10 Ways to Save Time on Your Job Search
In the blink of an eye, several months have passed since COVID-19 made its attention-grabbing, dramatic entrance on the global stage, and it feels like no time has passed at all. What day is it? What month is it, for that matter?
Forget the to-do list, or the ideals of personal improvement, or, for most people, the “wouldn’t it be fun to consider” aspirational job search. Hanging on to current (or getting back to February’s) circumstances feels as aspirational as it comes, for many people.
We’re balancing added personal and family responsibilities, and we’re spending lots of emotional energy just to keep an even keel. We’re taking the time to come to terms with all that has changed career-wise, and for most, we’re living in this odd mashup of slo-mo (“when will things get back to normal, already?”) and fast-forward (“I’m sorry I haven’t gotten back to you, yet, it’s been a blur!”). We’re coming up short, resource-wise, and when you’re short on time and energy, it can be really hard to summon what you need to engage in an effective job search.
And yet, finding a new job requires precious time. Whether you’re unemployed due to COVID-19, employed but doing the work of three people after a round of layoffs, or needing to jump into a job search quickly for financial or career reasons, you’ll need to use your limited time wisely.
To help speed your search, we’ve compiled a list of 10 simple job search hacks that will help you save precious time but still maximize results to get you into a new job as quickly and efficiently as possible. Here they are:
- Batch your work
When you’re constantly switching from one task to another, you waste a lot of time and energy switching focus and context from one task to the next. If you make a point to batch related activities together, you’ll be able to maintain the same frame of mind and get a lot more done at once, rather than by switching from task to task without any cohesion. Job search to-do’s like setting up job alerts, editing cover letters, and engaging on LinkedIn will require the same type of mental preparedness, so set aside a chunk of time to work on a group of them at once.
- Use Templates
Whether you’re making your own or using made-for-you templates, having a set of them that you use for different job search-related activities will save you loads of time over starting from scratch each time you need something. Consider all the areas where a template might come in handy (the tasks that you find yourself regularly completing) — email, LinkedIn invite templates, cover letters, thank you notes, etc. and batch some time to create all the templates you’ll need throughout your search. Then, use those templates on the fly (make sure you customize the important details!) to free up time during your day.
- Use Automation
Every distinct part of the job search process can be time consuming, from actually searching for job postings, to prepping for an interview, doing company research, and sending out appropriate follow-ups after an interview. There are loads of automation tools available out there for free, so take advantage. Setting up job search alerts, Google news alerts, and calendar reminders to follow up are all ways you can start to automate your process.
- Organize like a chef. There’s a mindset and system used in cooking to help busy chefs keep up with fast-paced demands: “mise-en-place.” If you haven’t heard it, it’s a French phrase that translates to “everything in its place.” Loosely, it means that you gather up all of the ingredients and tools you’ll be using in one location, in the right quantities, ready to go when you need it. For the job search, that means having everything ready in one easily accessible, from any device, filing system (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.) so when opportunity arises you can quickly grab what you need.
- Eliminate time wasters
We’ve all been guilty of applying for a job we weren’t really invested in just for the satisfaction of getting another application out there, or sending out a generic resume to many jobs instead of a curated few. These practices, while common, eat up a lot of valuable time and are definitely not the most effective way to tackle your search. Examine where you’re spending the bulk of your time, assess what activities actually help your search move forward, and then eliminate the ones that don’t.
- Search with fresh eyes
Most people prioritize just about everything else in their life before their job search. Often, it’s relegated to the end of the day when you’re exhausted, which doesn’t leave much gas in the tank to be efficient or effective. So instead of making your search the lowest priority, make it the highest. At least one day a week, put your job search ahead of everything else. The efficiency you’ll create if you bring the right energy to the search means you’ll need less time overall to complete it.
- Make a plan
As Benjamin Franklin once wisely said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” This applies to so many things in life, and your job search is certainly one of them. At the beginning of each week, set aside 15 minutes for planning out what you’ll get done in your job search for the coming week. You can even slate the tasks into particular slots of time on your calendar so they are non-negotiable. This could include things like outreach notes, following people on LinkedIn, researching target companies, learning more about an industry, or applying to 2-3 priority roles you find online.
- Use “in between” time productively
During a packed day, there’s often a bit of transition time between calls or Zoom meetings, which you can easily fill with one-off job search tasks, like engaging with an industry influencer’s post on LinkedIn, scanning your saved job alerts, or doing some Google news research about your favorite companies. You can even turn it into a game! For each time you’re on a Zoom call waiting for “the host to let you in shortly,” maybe you add one new LinkedIn connection, or some other small but meaningful task. Little inputs throughout the day will add up to a lot at the end of the week.
- Have multiple bundled versions ready to go
You’ve likely heard that you need multiple versions of your resume ready to go, so based on what role you’re applying for, you’ve got a suitable resume at the ready. If you can get a bundled version of your resume and a cover letter about 85% of the way to being ready for a particular type of job, then you’ll only need to spend a few minutes tweaking it for any new application.
- Get outside help
Sometimes it helps to take a step back and get some perspective from someone with an objective view of your process. Ask someone else to walk through your job search for you to look for places where you may be stuck or unwittingly losing efficiency or sabotaging yourself. This could be a mentor, a “board of advisors” that you’ve enlisted to help you, a friend who’s had good luck in their own search, a job search support group or a career coach. Often there are things you may not see clearly that, if changed, could make a significant difference to the efficiency and results of your search.
Make Your Job Search Time Count
The job search process is generally time consuming if you really want to land the right job, but there are ways to create efficiencies and save yourself some valuable time. Although some of these ideas will take an initial time investment to get set-up, the payoff can be huge – not just by saving you time each week in your job search, but by speeding up the time it takes for you to find a new job.
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