Scheduling for the job hunt …

Once again, sorry for the gaps in posts here … I've had several projects that got into “must finish” states that pushed writing for The Job Stalker right off the calendar. Fortunately, Gordon has been more on-the-ball, and has a new piece here for you. Interestingly, it suggests to me that were I to keep to a “structured” schedule, I might be able to work up more posts in here. I do, however, have a bunch of links to bring you Friday, and there's an outside chance (I'm only about 1/3rd of the way through it at this point) that I'll have a hot new book for you on Monday.

Anyway, co-Job Stalker Gordon Dymowski is giving you the run-down on how he organizes his time. Frankly, he appears to get up about the time I'm going to bed, but I guess there do have to be “morning people” in this world, right?

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Today’s post consists primarily of my response to two often-repeated statements that I tend to hear numerous times.

The first is usually others' reaction when I state that I have an interview or a follow-up along the lines of  “Why can’t I have the same success?” The other statement made by a well-meaning career coach or peer around the idea that “looking for a job actually becomes your job when you’re unemployed.”

I won’t claim that I have had great success - I’ve been on a relative dry spell when it comes to interviews recently - but I actually try to formally structure my day. I won’t claim to spend a solid eight hours a day job seeking, but hopefully sharing my job seeking approach and strategies for job seeking allow me to gain suggestions for improvement, but more importantly, allow me to “pass it forward” to others.

(A brief note - much of my insights are based on my own self-awareness on rhythms, strengths, and weaknesses, based on previous work with career counselors. These are not meant to be a quick-and-dirty shortcut; job seeking still takes effort. My hope is that by providing this information, I can spur you, the reader, to think differently...and perhaps allow me to gain something to help me improve as a job seeker).

One of the first steps I take is to set regular, attainable goals for each week. My goals are going to look very simplistic; however, my tendency is to try to meet - and exceed - my stated goals. I know I’m moving at a good pace when in a week I am able to

  • E-Mail resumes in application to 5 - 7 job leads (either forwarded or posted online) per week - that breaks down to about one resume per day
  • Send follow up e-mail/notes on at least two to three potential employers to whom I have already sent resumes
  • Attend one to two networking events in the week (and by “event” this means either a one-on-one interview or a larger event); and
  • Maintain contact with any and all recruiters I am working with (sending revised materials, updating on my availability, etc).

Now with positive goals, I can create a more formal structure for my day. Procrastination is easy for me, and I have to avoid the temptation to spend inordinate amounts of time on Facebook and Twitter and claim that it’s “networking”. By giving a rough structure to my day, I provide myself flexibility in determining what I accomplish, focusing my activities around acquiring work, building contacts, and/or strengthening my professional presence.

So my “typical” day (which can be easily restructured around freelance work/networking appointments & events/job interviews) looks something like this:

5:30 am - Wake up, shower, take care of cat, brew coffee, watch news, and gear up for day.:

7:30 am - Begin e-mail triage (reviewing e-mail and following up); Researching job leads through various channels (including,, and listings forwarded by my contacts) and choosing those that I know I have a good “fit”.

9:30 am - Take a one hour break, spend time checking and engaging on Twitter, Facebook, etc. This allows me to shift gears and move towards more intense work.

10:30 am - Spend ninety minutes “deep diving” into potential employers/contacts, work on freelance/other projects (like my volunteer efforts, blogging, or other writing projects for Comic Related as well as this blog), possibly check e-mail again.

12:00 pm  - Eat lunch/spend time relaxing.

1:00 pm - Perform a variety of tasks, including

  • Researching companies/contacts on Linked In
  • Researching and sending out resumes in response to job postings
  • Sending follow up notes to positions I’ve previously applied for to acquire information on status;
  • Look for and schedule other networking events (though resources like Interactive Amy’s online calendar)
  • Content creation/distribution

3:30 pm - 4:00 pm - Set up my to-do list for the next day (Tasks to be completed, events scheduled, etc) and finish up my day.

Now, granted, this schedule varies daily - I’m not including networking events/phone calls (I’m a big fan of breakfast networking like Social Media Breakfast and the Chicago Geek Breakfast), nor am I including regular life issues (like doing laundry, personal appointments, etc). Arranging my day into “chunks” of time provides greater flexibility in scheduling  (using Google Calendar via Thunderbird’s Lightning Extension, and copying into my day planner) ,and allows me to adjust more easily when short-term crises arise (important for me since I’m taking care of a parent with health issues). Although this approach does not guarantee results, having  structure and goals allows me to feel some progress in my job search.

But now, it’s your turn - what has your experience been? Please feel free to provide your thoughts in the comments section below. I also invite you to send me an e-mail, connect with me via Linked In, or follow me where I have an online presence. Again, thanks for reading, and see you next week!

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