One reason why job hunting is difficult is that job hunters don't
know how to manage their time. When you're employed, the employer
structures your time: They often tell you what to do and when
and how to do it. But when you're unemployed, you're on your
own. You have to decide for yourself what to do and when and
how to do it. And there's the rub. It can be frightening and
paralyzing to try to make decisions.
I use the term The Empty Calendar Syndrome
to describe what happens to job hunters on Monday morning when they
get up and look at a calendar that's empty. They freeze. Sometimes
they get frightened and paralyzed, so they don't accomplish anything
The cure for The Empty Calendar Syndrome is to fill
the calendar, to do something, anything, as long as it's productive.
Here are 81 productive ways to spend your time while job hunting.
None alone will result in a job; but if you do many of them together,
you will have fun, you will get yourself moving, and you will
get a job, too.
Evaluate Where You Are.
- Write down 10 nice things about yourself.
- Identify your skills. Do the "Quick Job-Hunting Map" to be found in Dick Bolles' book, "What Color Is Your Parachute?"
- Visit a local community college and take standardized career
tests (normally free or for a small charge.)
- Write down, visualize, picture all the components of the job
you want. The people. The environment. Your duties. Your rewards. Everything.
- Write down a tentative goal or life mission for yourself.
These aren't handed down "from above," you'll have to
choose one. It can be changed later. (Example: "To help
autistic children learn to speak.")
- If you're stuck evaluating where you are, get individual career-counseling help.
- Take a career-related class.
- Find someone who has a job exactly like the one you want and
talk to that person. Ask, "How did you get here?"
- Read the business section of the newspaper and any other sections
that relate to your interests.
- Subscribe to your local business journal, and browse through
it to see what interests you. Success, and Inc. magazines are
full of good ideas.
- Go to a well-stocked bookstore and look at the job-search books.
- Call local colleges and attend their career fairs.
- Flip through the Yellow Pages (the consumer and business sections)
and see what interesting headings there are.
- Subscribe to Business Week, or a magazine in your particular
- Read Money-Love by Jerry Gillies, Warner Books.
- Go to the Chamber of Commerce and pick up all the free pamphlets
you can carry.
- Go to the library and look at the job-search books. Using the Internet,
look at The Riley Guide.
- Return to the library: flip through business magazines, newspapers
and trade journals.
- Return to the library: look at "Contacts Influential"
or other local business directories.
- Call public relations departments and human resources departments
of major companies and request information about what the companies
do (brochures, annual reports, etc.).
- Call interesting companies and ask if you can take a tour
or attend an orientation or an open house. Ask if they have a
bulletin board for posting jobs.
- Stand in lines, talk to strangers.
- Compliment people, anyone and everyone you meet. Be a lifter,
not a leaner.
- Go to parties. Go to a church or synagogue. Rub shoulders
with people. If you're a joiner, join.
- Associate only with positive people, not negative people.
- Use "The Encyclopedia of Associations" to find an
association in your area of interest. Then join it.
- Attend an association meeting or industry trade show.
- Visit your minister, priest or rabbi. Let him know what you're
doing. See if you can help him. Join a church committee.
- Give a speech related to what you do.
- Create a small support group for other job hunters (four is
an ideal number). Meet weekly. Don't gripe. Brainstorm and
give each other ideas.
- Visit a local college. Talk to a professor who teaches in
the area of your interest.
- Visit the placement office of your college, attend campus
recruiting sessions, talk to recruiters.
- Join a job network such as ExecuNet [www.execunet.com].
- Attend a job-finding club. If there isn't one in your city, start one.
- Take a class in your area of interest or expertise.
- Attend a convention or trade show; talk to exhibitors.
- Install voicemail on your telephone so you don't miss
important calls. Make the message exciting, enthusiastic and positive.
- Keep good records of who you contact, what they said, what
the next step will be.
- Make a budget; list all your expenses and assets, so you can
determine your staying power and make necessary adjustments.
- Brainstorm ways to save money and ways to earn money.
- Read "Earning Money Without a Job," Jay Levinson, Holt Rinehart Winston.
- Have a garage sale.
- Take a class for fun.
- Take a sales seminar (job hunting involves sales).
- Teach a seminar; conduct a class in your area of expertise.
- Take someone of interest to lunch, and have fun with this
person. Don't tell them your troubles.
- Be visible! Write a "letter to the editor" stating a strong opinion about
your situation, the world of work or unemployment in general.
- Give something away. Volunteer to work part-time doing exactly
what you want to do, where you want to do it.
- Take a temporary job. Study the company from the inside,
be alert to problems, offer solutions.
- Start an exercise program; revamp your diet.
- Help someone solve a problem.
- See an inspirational movie.
- Join Toastmasters International and learn to speak before an audience.
- Find out if Internet webwsites or local newspapers would be interested in an article, or publish something in your field.
- Pamper yourself once in awhile. Have a massage, go soak in
a hot tub, then go to sleep.
- Get references, that is, endorsements or testimonial statements from friends, co-workers, past customers and employers.
- Take short excerpts from these references. Make a one-page handout that shows
how great you are! Underline key words and phrases.
- Make a list of companies you might like to work for.
Find the executive's name and title, the company name, address,
zip code, telephone number, e-mail address.
- Make a list of everyone you know. Your friends, friends of
friends, your doctor, dentist, insurance agent, realtor, attorney,
cousins, aunts, uncles, the person who does your laundry, fixes
your car, cuts your hair, etc. You should push yourself until
you have about 250 names, no small task.
CardScan to the rescue. CardScan is the easiest way I've ever found to input and track my contacts. Give it a try.
- Write an essay called "Twenty-seven Ways I'm Going to Help My Next Employer."
- Write a great sales letter. It should say 1) who you are, 2) what you do, and
3) what 10 things the company is going to gain by having you around. We have several hundred sample letters on this website.
- Mail or e-mail the sales letter to friends, help-wanted ads, newspaper articles, agencies, and recruiters.
- Wait a week. Call places where you sent your sales letter and ask if they received
it. Ask what they thought about it. Tell them you would like to see them.
- Send a "newsletter" about your progress to your friends, your contacts, your
network. Put some humor in it.
- Update your resume, but don't get stuck on it. Allow only
a week for this, no more.
- Send your resume to executive search firms.
- Send your resume to a national referral network.
- Find three placement agencies that specialize in what you do.
Send them your resume.
- Call companies you like. Tell them what you do, find out
who would be in charge of that department function. Ask to speak
to that person, tell them what you do, and ask if they need help.
- Place a situation want ad in several small newspapers, on your Internet blog, or on employment websites.
- Update your wardrobe. Shine your shoes.
See the latest Styles from Tumi.
- Write down five interview questions that scare you most.
Then write an answer for each of them.
- Write down your answers to other frequently asked interview questions.
- Role play interviewing with a friend. Verbalize your strengths. Rehearse.
- Make a list of 10 questions you want to ask your future employer.
(Be sure to ask them.)
- Go on practice interviews with companies where you don't especially care to get hired.
Does practice make perfect? No. ("Only perfect practice makes perfect"Vince Lombardi.)
- Write thank-you notes to anyone who has helped you.
- Prioritize this list of things to do.
Organize yourself with FranklinCovey!
- Add new items to this list.
- Read and answer want ads and online job postings.
Last of All
Don't let "The Empty Calendar Syndrome" get you down. On Sunday afternoon, sit
down and plan the upcoming week. Don't allow too much empty space because empty space
can scare you. Once you've decided what you want to do, go for it! The world needs you.
Don't stop, don't ever quit. And you will get exactly what you want.
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