Want an easy job search? Take a cue from project managers.

career advice careers job hunting job search jobs Jan 27, 2022

“Looking for a job is a full-time job.” Have you heard this? I have, and it makes me sad, because it’s a myth. And thank goodness! Because most people who are looking for new full-time jobs already are working full-time jobs, and most of us have families or other life commitments outside of those jobs. The trick to a search that doesn’t drain you of all your time and energy is not to treat it like a full-time job — it’s to treat it like a project.

What’s wrong with the typical job search?

First let’s cover what a job search often looks like. Many job seekers begin by opening Indeed, or another job board, and responding to what’s advertised whenever they see it. This is what I call reactive searching. It’s a poor strategy to rely on exclusively because many of these jobs (I’ve never found hard numbers, but some people say up to 50%) are:

1. Well into the interview process with multiple candidates.

2. Already promised to an internal candidate, and the job is only posted for Equal Employment Opportunity compliance reasons.

This strategy is also missing the key elements of what makes any initiative manageable: goals and milestones. So not only are you spending time submitting your resume in what is essentially a gamble, but you’re also burning up time and energy with no sense of how to measure your progress. It’s draining.

The secret to proactive searching

Instead of starting with ads, start with a list of the companies you’d like to work for. Your list should include 25 to 40 companies. You might ask: How do I know these companies are hiring? The answer is that you don’t. Not yet. But a company that is not hiring today might be hiring tomorrow! LinkedIn is a great place to build this list. Search for one company, look at its page, and LinkedIn will suggest similar companies. The search filters on LinkedIn are fantastic — you can search by company size, industry, location and even combine criteria to get quite specific.

Once you have your list, look these companies up on LinkedIn again. Do you know people who work there? Reach out to them. Ask for 10 minutes of their time — not to ask for a job, but to find out about the culture at the company and what problems they’re facing. People (usually) like to help others, and you may get great suggestions of other companies you should talk to or roles that you’d be perfect for that you may not have heard of. If you don’t know anyone who works there, is there a contact you can go through for an introduction? LinkedIn’s search filters can help you find mutual contacts.

How to tie it all together

Here’s where project management comes in. A healthy job search will include a balance between applying online and networking. When you’re beginning your search, set targets for:

1. How much time you will spend searching per week, and how this time will be broken up. Is it daily? Three days per week? How much time are you spending per sitting? When is this time happening? If you’re too tired at night, don’t schedule your job search then — you won’t be as productive. If you can’t find time in your regular day, can you wake up a half hour earlier and do it then? Be realistic about your life and your energy levels.

2. How many online applications and how many networking contacts you will make per week. Ultimately, this will be decided based on your availability that you outlined in step one, but here are some recommendations: For online applications, know that many of the jobs posted are not “real” (remember the point about EEO compliance, etc.). So, if you want to apply for five jobs online per week, send seven to 10 applications out to account for those that turn out to be duds. An ideal amount of networking contacts to make per week is five, but if you’re very busy or otherwise committed, do a smaller amount that’s manageable for you. Consistency is key.

3. Time you’ll spend balancing out the stress that this entire endeavor will bring you. Job searching is heavy on both logistics and emotion. It’s uniquely taxing. Schedule in something at least once a week that recharges you.

4. The tracking system you will use. You’ll quickly have a lot of balls in the air and will need to keep track of your networking contacts and the applications you send out to know when to follow up with people. Even something as simple as an Excel sheet can be helpful.

5. Reviewing your progress weekly. If you see that you couldn’t stick to the plan you made, shift the plan! If you made great progress and landed some interviews, celebrate!

Above all, enjoy your life. If it becomes too much, take a break. Know that spending more time on your search will not necessarily be more effective. One hour with the right strategy is much better than a full-time-job’s worth of hours on activities that aren’t effective.

Need more support? Visit me at https://www.protagonist.solutions/

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Cras sed sapien quam. Sed dapibus est id enim facilisis, at posuere turpis adipiscing. Quisque sit amet dui dui.

Call To Action

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.