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Home > Blog: Job Seeker Tips > The Liberation of a Structured Job Search Strategy

The Liberation of a Structured Job Search Strategy

JesseeThis post is written by Jessee (pictured), a guest blogger. She's a working professional and the author of the blog BusterPeach. Her career has endured four cross-country moves, two layoffs, a major merger, and the launch of three startups – all with just two employers. While her expertise lies in contact center operations management, she has focused heavily on employee training and development and is especially passionate about coaching soft skills and sales performance.

The "apply online only" world we live in makes it convenient to search and apply for jobs from the comfort of your home. But it's a huge adjustment to spend your days job searching in coffee-stained pajamas and call that meaningful.

After a recent layoff, my struggle with being housebound became most evident when my Mom asked each day, "Find any good leads?" I daydreamed of dropping a hot iron skillet on her pinky toe.

I missed the hum of work, feeling productive, and the comforts of a schedule. Family life became increasingly difficult. I began to define myself by my output of clean laundry, and I couldn't help but feel exploited every time people had the nerve to put on clean skivvies.

After months of hovering over job boards the way I imagine a bookie monitors SportsCenter 24/7, I was determined to change something up. I decided to rock this job search old school.  Offline and face-to-face! Oh, the village elders would be proud!

Rejected and Dejected

In my best suit, with my best foot forward, I walked in to my target companies. I was committed to give a firm handshake, make a connection, and hand off my stunning resume. I even put on makeup.

I was not prepared for what I experienced. Every receptionist was armed with a threadbare script—"Ma'am, I'm sorry, you must apply online"—and generic business cards. In minutes, I was back in my car still holding my stunning resume. These people know their mission is to deflect and redirect. While it felt good to be out of the house, I was spinning my wheels, and wasting my good pantyhose doing it!

Defeated, I went back home to stalk job openings and calm my jangled nerves with household chores. When my attic reached a state of organized utopia, I was at my lowest point.

In a half-insane moment of total clarity, I designed a job search system resembling a schedule I'd use if I were working. The schedule looked something like this:

ACTIVITY: Search and Apply for Jobs
SCHEDULE: Mondays and Thursdays, 9:00 - 11:00 A.M.

  • Mondays and Thursdays are the most strategic days, because newspaper job ads run Sundays and Wednesdays.
  • Set up email alerts for job boards to notify you of new, relevant jobs. Give yourself permission to stop watching job boards every minute of every day. Trust that you're more effective when you're not burned out.

SCHEDULE: Wednesdays, 12:00 - 1:00 P.M. and 7:00 - 8:00 P.M.

  • Shamelessly interrogate your network for leads.  It can be as simple as meeting a former co-worker for coffee, going to the library, or attending a job fair.
  • Spend this time outside the house, dressed for business.

SCHEDULE: Tuesdays and Fridays, 9:00 - 11:00 A.M.

  • Follow up by phone or email on each job you've applied to. Use a loose script of savvy questions to get on the employers' radar and stay there.

ACTIVITY: Organize and Track

  • Set up a paper or electronic file for each job you apply for [Hint: Pongo Resume's Tracker and Task Manager do a lot of this for you automatically]. Include notes on: Job description, source of the posting, specific resume and cover letter you sent, relevant company research.
  • Journal your interactions (on paper or online), maintain all contact names, telephone numbers and email/postal addresses. Your first entry on the journal should be something like "Applied Online 03/29/09." Subsequent entries should detail names, dates of contact, and any specifics that were discussed.

Once I had a schedule with smart goals on it for each day, I could devote the allotted time to advance my job search, feel the pleasure of accomplishment, and then set it aside. As a bonus, I was able to give myself permission to catch up on those DVR recordings and enjoy my family without the constant sense that I was neglecting my job search duties. Pinky toes everywhere are thanking me!

What methods do you use to organize your job search?


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