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 Sharpen Your Time Management Skills

By Joe Stein

A major challenge for any Job Seeker, particularly if you are currently employed, is how to manage your time. For most, balancing your workload with a personal life can be enough of a struggle, not to mention the further addition of a job search. This is, unfortunately, why so many Job Seekers delay searching for a new job, or give something less than a full effort. 
 
A Job Seeker also has to make sure that the time spent on a job search does not impact the current position to the point that your performance suffers. You do not want a drop in productivity to cause alarms to go off with your current employer. You want to be able to leave on your own terms rather than being performance managed, or having your Manager inquire whether you are seeking a new job.
 
The key for you is to sharpen your time management skills. The more efficiently you use your time, the more you will get done and the less stressed you will feel. Let’s take a look at some of the time management tips you can implement to make your search easier on your schedule.
 
·        Know What You Want – Chasing after every job you are remotely qualified for takes a lot of time. Time you probably do not have right now. Do your homework ahead of time and know what type of position you want, the industry you are seeking, and the proper compensation range. Focus on the positions that best match your desired profile. 
·        Stick to a Routine – When you have the discipline to keep a schedule you generally find you can get more done. Try to set aside time each week to devote to your search. Perhaps one night a week and some time on the weekend, such as a Saturday morning, could be spent on pursuing job leads and networking. This will still require you to be flexible around phone screens and interviews. If you are currently employed, think of your job search as a part-time job where you work 2-3 shifts a week.
·        Make a To Do List – To some this may seem very old fashioned, but writing out (our typing into your smartphone) a list can really help to structure and discipline you to get things done. Write out the websites you want to check out (with WNYJOBS.com, at the top, of course), the follow-ups to make, and the networking e-mails and phone calls to execute. Make sure your list is something that is realistically doable in the time you can devote. You want the list to serve as a goal that will push you, but not become demotivating because it can never be finished. One final suggestion for this topic is to try to complete the toughest and most important task first. The completion of this item will then serve to motivate you to completing the rest that require less effort.
·        Set Up Your Workspace – The idea is that you want to be efficient and productive during the time devoted to your job search. This is hard to do if you are working from the kitchen table while children are making noise and the TV is blaring. Try to give yourself space that is quiet and private. Organize your area so that you have folders devoted to the positions you have applied for, along with the office supplies you need at your fingertips. Set up some type of system, either via physical index cards or even an Excel Spreadsheet, that will allow you to quickly access any information that you may need.
·        Get Others to Help – An army can get more done than an individual. Now this area is not devoted to how you can passively sit by while a parent conducts your job search. Rather, this is about utilizing your network to give you job leads that may be hard work to find out about on your own. Get the word out that you are seeking a new position and that you are interested in finding out about job opportunities.
·        Prioritize What Is Important – Focus on what will help you obtain a new job. For example, if you have a good Cover Letter template and a solid Resume, avoid the temptation to constantly tinker with the documents. The reward will be small or non-existent, but the time spent “tinkering” will keep you from chasing after job leads. If you have a phone screen scheduled, then researching this company becomes a top priority.
·      Don’t Overdo It – Being fresh is a key to good time management. You want to work in a very productive mode in order to get as much done as possible during a limited timeframe. Do not overdo the total workload to the point where you are fatigued or stressed, as this will leave you unproductive in your job search. 
 
Conducting a Job Search can be hard work, but with good time management skills, you can do it even if you are gainfully employed. Time is a finite and precious resource that you will want to use wisely. One final tip…don’t job search while at work. I know many people do it, but the risk is great. Establish a job search schedule, through your good time management, so you won’t need to do it at work.
 
As always, best of luck in your job search!