How Much Time Should Your Job Search Take?

Sometimes prospective clients ask me how long their job search should take? That is, how long do I think it will be before they get calls, interviews, and job offers? If I knew the answer to that, I’d be independently wealthy and gainfully unemployed!

Seriously, as the saying goes, “There’s no easy answer.” What you really need to do is figure out what your employment goal is, identify the essential steps to reach it (if all goes well), and then dive in.

Note: This might be one of my all-time-short blog posts, because I’m not going to “gild the lily”–even if you’re a senior executive or candidate for that level, certain basic elements remain the same.

Free Yourself from Time-Limited Job Search Thinking!

Unless you have a can’t-change deadline for concluding a successful job search, start by stopping. In other words, stop thinking in terms of “how long” and instead “how little” time you can spend on the search productively.

A week’s worth of time that focuses on essentials beats a month or more of time wasted on actions that don’t produce desirable results–because they couldn’t from the outset.

Minimize Your Job Search Time with Careful Planning & Execution

  1. I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating: Know where you want to go before you begin–and make sure you have your ducks all in a row (resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and so on).
  2. Check out the job possibilities you’re interested in and do your homework on the ones that look most promising, desirable, etc. This is not a random process. Use carefully selected criteria to decide which positions are appealing enough to be worth spending extra time on if needed.
  3. Determine what your most productive times might be to work intensively on the job search and block out chunks of that time as much as possible before you launch your job search.
  4. Head off potential distractions as much as you can–anticipate and manage those you can and try to postpone those you can’t prepare for. Don’t let yourself get stuck.
  5. Weigh each action you’re considering by asking yourself, “Is this critical for my job search or is it something I can put off?”
  6. Evaluate your progress periodically to see if you’re drifting off course without realizing it and make course corrections as promptly as possible if you find you are.

Whether your job search ends up “short” or “long” might be impossible to know at the start, but if you approach it wisely, it will almost certainly be more productive–with the kind of results you need–and isn’t that what really matters?

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