Guest Author - Lisa McGrimmon
The importance of time management can not be underestimated when you're out of work and job searching. One of the key time management methods or considerations that will help you to job search effectively is to ensure you are focusing on results, and not merely on activity.
There are a lot of job search tasks and strategies you can pursue. Some are easier than others, and some are more effective than others. Unfortunately, the easiest job search tasks (the ones people tend to want to focus on) are typically not the most effective tasks.
It can be so tempting to allow yourself to settle into certain job search tasks, like mass mailing unsolicited resumes to random employers, or searching for advertised jobs in newspapers all day, simply because they are relatively easy and risk free tasks. Those kinds of tasks don't require you to really take any risks in the way that proven, but more intimidating networking strategies (like arranging informational interviews or speaking with your business contacts) do.
Unfortunately, many of the low risk job search strategies people use are not particularly effective. Mass mailing unsolicited resumes has a very low success rate compared with the amount of time and effort it takes to prepare and mail out those resumes to random employers, and advertised jobs only account for 20% of jobs available. So, although absorbing yourself in that type of low risk task may make you feel like you've been productive, when you only focus on those low risk, low reward tasks, you may be active, but you are not necessarily being productive. That is, your activities are far less likely to lead you to your desired goal (getting a great job) than they would if you required yourself to focus on job search strategies that get results.
Just because you are busy, does not mean you are actually moving toward your goal. The 80 20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, sums up this concept quite well. This principle says that 80% of unfocussed effort typically creates only 20% of results. That means, if you are not actively managing your time and choosing your activities based on the results they generate, only about 20% of your time will be truly productive and help to move you toward your goals.
I'm not suggesting that you should never look in your local newspaper for job leads; you may find something there that's a great fit for you. What I am suggesting is that you should avoid making that, or any other low risk, low reward job search strategy, your primary job search activity. Do not avoid job search strategies (like networking) that are highly productive simply because they are challenging.
Using good time management methods will help you to reach your job search goals. Challenge yourself to choose your job search strategies based on the results they will get, and not based on the difficulty of the task, and you will be in a better position to make strides toward your career goals.
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