I can tell you from my own experience that the entire job search process is a job in and of itself. It can take a lot of time, effort, focus, organization and even courage and endurance, especially in this economy.
I remember how daunting the overall task seemed to me and my friends in college and even in my MBA program, as well as how easy it was NOT to devote the appropriate time and resources to it. There was always something else you could be doing that would return a better ROI than job searching.
However, with job searching, you can’t give little and expect to get a lot in return. When you think about it, there really is a great deal that you have to prepare and perfect to succeed in your career search, from personal branding to gaining relevant experience and education, from tailoring resumes/cover letters to creating LinkedIn profiles, from attending career fairs to sifting through job search engines, from acing interviews to sending thank you letters, and the list goes on.
And even after all of that time and energy you invest, you are still going to encounter the automated and man-made rejections, the lack of responses to your job inquiries and the trials and errors of resumes and interviews, none of which help reinforce your motivation.
But if you think about and treat your job search as if it were your job, it won’t seem like such a daunting, last-minute and unrewarding task forced upon you, and you will end up seeing positive results much more quickly. How can you start to do this?
- Stay Focused: First, determine what you are looking for and set goals, priorities and objectives. You may have a number of career paths, and it is okay to keep your options open; however, make sure you focus on a few top career paths to start so that you can devote the right time to them and so that you won’t get overwhelmed and burn out.
- Give Yourself Time: Every job has required hours. Think about your job search like that and set aside 30 minutes or an hour each day. Log your hours, note what you did during those hours and keep track of what is returning results, as this may help you identify a strategy or effort that is proving more fruitful.
- Keep Yourself Organized: Keep a to-do and to-done list as this will help you keep tabs on your efforts and your progress. Also, when you are searching for and applying to jobs online, separate that task into two parts. I can’t tell you how much easier and quicker it is to do all of the searching first, copying the URL for each job listing into a list in an MS Word or Excel document, and then work on applying to the list in a separate sitting. By the time you finish applying to your list of jobs, you can restart the process and identify a new list of opportunities that have been posted since you last visited the search engines.
- Learn From Your Failures: In every job, you are going to make mistakes and have to learn from your failures. You don’t face failure in a real job and then just give up. Over the course of my own MBA internship search, I applied to over 135 marketing internships. Initially, I received a number of rejections and in some cases, no response at all; however, I didn’t let this get me down. I continuously looked for ways to improve my resume and my interview skills and experimented with new search tactics. I started hearing back from more companies and ended up with 2 offers well before the end of the search season. Getting rejected and failing is part of the job in job searching. Stay motivated to keep improving yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or feedback.
If job searching is your first job, think of the real job you are pursuing as a promotion. If you want to get that promotion, you will have to work hard, devote time, be creative and often take a few punches, but all of that will pay off with an offer or two (maybe more).