On a day-to-day basis, it's easy to let tasks of daily living take precedence over careful time management in productive job-hunt activities. Here are a few resolutions to help refocus and recalibrate your job search in the new year:
1. Schedule your time. Carve out set hours every day that solely belong to your job of getting a job. Make a daily, weekly and monthly schedule for yourself with Outlook, Google Calendar or some other consistent method to keep you organized. Build into your schedule time for personal meetings and networking, social media, keeping abreast of your job market, email and calls.
2. Track your activity and your contacts. Over the course of your job search you will doubtless interact with many types of people, including fellow job hunters, members of your network, recruiters, human resources staffers, hiring authorities, etc. You can keep track of all these relationships with a robust free program available at JibberJobber.com, or you can create your own system on Excel. Make certain that you have all your research at the tip of your fingers whenever you need it, and don't forget to follow-up after meetings. Consult your calendar regularly to make certain that you don't forget to send out thank-you notes and other communications to keep a relationship growing ever stronger.
3. Make time each day to do something job-search related. A day without an interview is not a day off from your job hunt. Use downtime to research new companies, interact with people on LinkedIn or other social media or read an article that relates to your skills and experience to keep you at the top of your game. Search out networking meetings to attend, and line up calls and one-on-one informational meetings to expand your knowledge and contact sphere.
4. Attend at least two or three networking meetings a month. Be on the lookout through your local newspaper, Business Journal, alumni and civic associations, Meetup.com and professional organizations for events to attend.
Aim to walk away from each event with at least one or two new contacts who will agree to meet you at a later time for a more in-depth get-to-know-you session, and make those meetings happen.
5. Expand your social networking skills and activities. LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook remain the dominant social networking sites. At the same time, however, they are each continually changing their features.
Resolve to spend at least a few minutes each day nurturing your online network. Be attentive to key changes in the lives of your contacts, and reach out as appropriate to comment, congratulate or empathize.
Continually look for ways to scour your networks for information about new positions available, companies and key decision makers who are hiring, etc.
6. Keep your network motivated and empowered. Generally speaking, people in your network want to help you. That doesn't mean, however, that it is their job to figure out how best to do so. Moreover, if your requests are too broad or if you perpetually sound desperate, you will turn people off and they will flee as soon as they see you coming. Continually bear in mind that you are just one of many people in every other person's network.
Resolve to make yourself important to others by determining their needs and going out of your way to provide information or solutions. Remember that networking is more about giving that getting.
When you do get around to making a request, don't ask, "Can you help me get a job?" Instead, ask, "I'm looking to work my way into ABC company. Do you know anyone there with whom I could network?"
If you've done your homework, you can improve that even further by saying, "I know that you are connected to Sally Smith at ABC company. I'm trying to learn more about the company and meet people who work there. Could you provide an introduction for me?"
When you systematically go about doing all the tasks related to hunting for a new job, you will become ever more efficient and proficient.
What other resolutions can help you achieve your goal?
Arnie Fertig is the head coach of JOBHUNTERCOACH.COM, where he utilizes his extensive background in HR Staffing and as owner of a recruiting company to help mid-career job-hunters land their next job. Arnie provides one-to-one coaching services to individuals throughout the U.S. in all aspects of the job hunt, including: resume writing, personal branding, utilizing social media, enhancing networking skills, preparing for interviews, and negotiating compensation.