Finding a job can be a painful experience. Here are three things that you can do to increase your chances of success.
1) Approach your job search as if it were a full-time job. If you had a job, you would show up at the same time each day, take 30-60 minutes for lunch, and (ideally) leave at the same time each day, 7-8 hours after you arrived. You would probably work five days a week. Moreover, you would work hard to meet goals and targets because your career depended upon it.
When searching for a job, you want to follow the same type of schedule because your future depends upon it.
If you approach your job search like a part-time hobby you pretty much guarantee that it will take longer. Instead, begin tomorrow by reporting to work and spending the day on tasks that lead to finding your next job.
2) Treat your job search like an important project. Set goals for yourself, make plans, and monitor your progress. Apply the same project management tools and skills that you use on the job to the project of finding a job.
Your job search is as important as any workplace project. The sooner you complete it, the sooner you gain a promotion into a job.
3) Be your own boss. Set clear expectations for what you want to accomplish, provide direction, and monitor your work. Be specific. The goal may be to find a job, but objectives include “apply for 3-5 new jobs each week” or “identify and sign up for one new job search service every week.”
Meet with yourself regularly to evaluate your performance. Formally report to yourself. Whether your reports are printed and bound or simple lists scribbled on a piece of scrap paper, take the time to write things down. Consider preparing two written reports: the first, a candid evaluation of what you accomplished the previous week; the second, a description of your plans for the following week, including goals, actions, and priorities.
The first time that you do this, also write an evaluation of everything you have done so far. Describe the results you have achieved and compare these results with where you hoped to be by now. Then map out a realistic plan for the next week based on achievable goals. You might want to set goals for the number of people you will call, the number of networking events you will attend, or for the research you will conduct.
Week after week, continue to compare your results with the goals that you set. If you fall short (say you planned to attend six networking meetings but only made it to two) you should a) figure out why this happened and b) plan actions to correct this. Analyzing why you missed your goal provide insights on what you need to do differently. Were your goals overly ambitious, or did unexpected events get in the way? What can you do to make it easier to achieve your goals?
Finding a job is a full-time job. Work through it with a solid plan and a supportive boss - yourself.