Time Management

Posted: August 29, 2015
By: Clay Cerny


Benjamin Franklin wrote:  "Take time for all things: great haste makes great waste."

Too often job seekers are in a hurry to make things happen.  They want to write their resume in one day.  They want to receive a job offer after one interview.  They accept the first job that is offered to them.  Listen to Wise Old Ben.  Take the time to get things right.  This doesn't mean taking forever, or using "getting it right" as an excuse for doing nothing.  Have a plan and a schedule.  In most cases, this means a few days, not weeks or months.  Review what you have done, and ask for opinions from people you trust.  It's good to have a sense of urgency, but career management is all about making strategic decisions that will affect the rest of your life.  Take some time to make those decisions.

Posted: August 17, 2015
By: Clay Cerny


I have a client who is very anxious to leave his current job. He works 60 hours a week and is grossly underpaid. He called me this week to discuss his job search. His problem is not uncommon: How can I find time to look for work?

In addition to his professional duties, my client and his wife have three young children. When he’s not working, he’s often driving a child to some sporting event or a sleep over. He also helps his wife with upkeep of the house, cleaning and cooking. He feels trapped and sees no way out.

I worked with him to set up a schedule for his job search. It’s not set in stone from day to day or week to week, but the target is to devote 10-15 hours each week to finding a new job. Some weeks he many only put 5 hours toward his goal. Other weeks, it might be 20 or even 25 hours. We also set a goal of 5-10 significant actions per week. This means applying for jobs, networking calls, or networking at industry events.

In most cases, the job won’t find you. It takes time, effort, and patience to make the transition, especially if you’re going to find the kind of job you really want. Hold yourself accountable. Track your time and what you are doing. If you are consistent and focused in your job search, your chances of landing the kind of job you want are very good. The first step is to manage your time and make it work for you.

Posted: October 10, 2014
By: Clay Cerny


I was on a tight deadline for three projects yesterday. A client called to cancel an hour long session. At first, I said this was great because it gave me more time to work. Then I looked out the window and saw a sunny beautiful day. I put on my coat and took a walk for about half an hour. Could I have spent that time working? Sure. But I also know that in a month it will be a lot colder. In two months, I will probably be shoveling snow.

What’s my point? Take some time to do what makes you happy. Even with my break, I met all of my deadlines and still got to spend some time enjoying the sun. Plan your time well, and find a way to do something that makes you happy. Life’s too short to let it be all work and worry.

Posted: January 5, 2014
By: Clay Cerny

I live in Chicago.  Over the last two days, we've had a winter storm that's dumped about a foot of snow on the city.  Now a deep freeze is coming that will keep temperatures below zero for the next two days.  In this kind of situation, many of us get stuck in doors.  We're depressed and kill time watching TV or playing video games.  Why not work on your career instead?

1.  If you're look for a job, try to get out at least five job applications.

2.  Update your LinkedIn profile.

3.  Update your resume.

4.  Research your profession or industry and learn more about where you can go in the future.

Bad weather sucks.  Use it as a motivation to push your career forward.

Posted: March 10, 2013
By: Clay Cerny

[On Sundays, this blog explores topics beyond the work world in “Sabbath.”]

Detroit and Democracy

I wanted to do more to prepare more to write this post, but I’ve had work responsibilities this week and weekend that would not let me dive into research and numbers.  Even so, I feel a need to express my less than informed opinion on a vital topic – the impending takeover of Detroit.

It’s not the big media story I thought it would be.  It’s taken as a given that Detroit is “bankrupt” and “something has to be done.”  I’ve even heard that claim in progressive media.  Is Detroit in trouble?  Of course, it is.  So are many other large American cities that have lost their industrial base.  No one seems to be asking if there are alternatives to taking power from the hands of elected officials and putting it in the hands of an unelected Emergency Manager.  Governor Rick Snyder presents this solution that he has introduced in other cities as the only way to save the state’s biggest city.

Let’s take a minute and ask some questions:

1.  Is the situation as bad as the governor claims?  Why is Michigan the only state in the nation where such action is taking place on such a scale?  Is the governor really concerned about helping cities, or is he working off an ALEC playbook strategy to transfer public wealth into private hands?  Is there any evidence that Emergency Managers in other cities have made a long term improvement in local conditions – long term, not a simple give away to the connected class?

2.  Where is the wealth?  Throughout America, central cities are surrounded by suburbs that conduct business in and take their identity from the urban hub.  Could some system be devised where those who benefit from the hub pay their share for its upkeep?  Why not tax suburbs that have a surplus?  Why not introduce county wide or regional taxes that would help revive great American cities?

Here in Chicago we’ve had similar claims of impending ruin.  One of Mayor Daley’s chief aides used the term “Doomsday” in talking about the state of the city’s school system and public transit system.  Both systems were cut in the face of such claims.  Mayor Daley also transferred public assets of parking meters and a public toll road to private interests.  The city’s finances are not better.  In fact, by the end of the contract, the city will lose money on the parking meter contract.  Now Mayor Emanuel want to close over 100 schools because of a pending billion dollar deficit.  Is this a real problem or a way to move students from public to “charter” schools?

Whenever a politician claims a situation is an emergency, we need to ask for better evidence and transparency, not solutions that make the original problem worse and benefit only those who are the most wealthy.  We need to ask harder questions about our leaders and their solutions, especially those that deal with privatization.  The fate of Detroit and other cities in Michigan need to seen as a sign of things to come.  Will the U.S. live up to its promise of being a democracy that offers opportunity to all of its people, including the poor?  Or will the country further devolve into an oligarchy of the wealthy, by the wealthy, and for the wealthy?

Postscript: On this weekend’s Smiley and West radio program, Cornel West said: “You can’t love money and love poor people.” He was criticizing political leaders, both Republicans and Democrats.  I can only respond with one word: Amen.

More:  Laura Clawson of Daily Kos weighs in on the consequences of a Detroit take over and what has happened in other Michigan cities that have lost their democratic rule.

Posted: March 1, 2012
By: Clay Cerny

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.

Posted: February 14, 2012
By: Clay Cerny

In his latest post, Seth Godin explores a distinction between meeting and making a train.  He compares it to how we treat deadlines – and people.  In the job search we need to have the discipline to make deadlines and be on time for interviews.  Employers don’t have time for rude behavior, the kind of behavior that says, “I will be a bad employee.”  Make the train.

Posted: March 28, 2010
By: Clay Cerny

[On Sundays, Career Calling explores the world of work and life that is bigger than our careers.]

Deadlines and the Common Cold

I almost didn’t write this post.  Over the past three days, I’ve had a hacking cough, a head that feels like it’s stuffed with cotton, and a nose that won’t stop running.  People who own stock in Kleenex should be sending me thank you cards.

O.K., so why am I writing?  Because I have deadlines – commitments.  Tomorrow I have to deliver three projects.  At the same time, I’m helping a client with a business plan which has been very time consuming.  Add it all up, it’s 8 a.m. on Sunday, and I’m at the office in front of my monitor.

If it sounds like I’m complaining, I am – a little bit.  Overall, I’m lucky to have too much work.  That’s a good thing.  However bad I might feel, I also know that they are many people facing worse things than the sniffles and congestion.

Deadlines are good things.  They make us focus our energy and get things done.  Think about all the things you meant to do tomorrow, next week, next year.  A hard deadline means you get it done, or there is some kind of consequence.  A real deadline motivates us to get going, to move beyond the plan. 

Since I’m facing some real deadlines, this week’s “Sabbath” will be a little shorter than usual.  I wish all of you health and success in meeting your deadlines.

Posted: December 12, 2009
By: Clay Cerny

The great Seth Godin, author of The Dip, recommends a “to do list” website called Teuxdeux.  It’s free and offers several options for list keeping.  This website would be a great resource for job seekers who need to track what they are doing and need to do.  Check it out, and when you’re done there, check out Seth’s Blog.  It’s a great source for information and inspiration