As Seth Godin says in his fine book The Dip, winners know when and what to quit. I met a client today who is taking some smart risks in managing his career and life. Fred (not his real name) left a job where he had worked for more than 10 years. His position was becoming impossible, and a new boss was promising to make it even worse. At the same time, Fred and his wife are selling their house as well his mother’s house. Fred and his wife, who is employed, have saved some money. So instead of staying at a bad job while looking for a new one and trying to fix up two houses, Fred decided to take one thing at a time. First, he quit his job. Next, he will prepare both homes for sale. Finally he will focus on his job search.
Not everyone has Fred’s resources or time, but his story has value for anyone who is trying to find a new job or change careers – It takes time and focus. I’ve seen many clients who put so much into the job they hate that they don’t have the energy or time to find a new one. In other cases, job seekers have responsibilities to their families that pull them away from looking for work. Fred’s story should be an example of how it is important to give yourself the time and energy to conduct a good job search. Even if you can’t quit the job you hate, or even if you have a serious family obligation, find a way to put the time in you need to find the new job. It’s not easy, but it’s better than staying in a job that is not helping you live better or be happy.
Yesterday I wrote about keeping your job search focused. One way to do this is manage time well and hold yourself accountable for results. Set a goal for landing a job. Normally, I would say give your self 3-6 months. However, since the economic decline of 2008, it is more difficult to find a job. Budget 6-12 months to find a job. That said, you should know that some people still find jobs in a month or less if they hustle – and have a little luck.
If you prepare your resume correctly and distribute to employers the right way (networking, responding to open positions), you should start being called to interviews in 30-60 days. If that isn’t happening, you need to step back and reexamine your resume and how you are getting it to potential employers. You also need to evaluate your level of activity. Are you working hard enough to find open positions?
Once you start getting interviews, you need to manage your time with more care. Prepare for the interview while you continue to send our more applications and resumes. Even if you are getting second and third interviews, keep sending out more applications. Don’t stop until you have a job offer.
Track your activities on a calendar. Some experts say, “Finding a job is a full time job.” While I agree with that sentiment, it’s hard to execute in the real world, especially if you are looking for a job while working. For most people, 15-25 hours of focused activity per week should be a good goal. Let me underscore the words focused activity.. If you meet a network contact for a two hour lunch and only spend 15 minutes talking about your career, don’t count that as two hours. Be fair and honest with yourself measuring the time you put into looking for work.
How you use time matters. The better you manage time, the more successful you will be in landing a new job.