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Job Seekers: How to Use Your Time Wisely

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Did you know that 64.7% of facts on the Internet are entirely made up? Did you (correctly) guess that I just made up that statistic?

Relevant to today’s topic, if you search the Internet to seek advice regarding your job-seeking activities, you’ll find lots of results suggesting that the majority of openings (percentages vary) are never publicly posted and that networking is the best way to find your next job. However, the evidence to support any statistic you see on this topic is, at best, thin.

The implication is harmful, from a practical standpoint. This so-called “advice” suggests that searching job boards and submitting formal applications is a waste of time.

It is not.

If you’re looking for a new job, please do search for postings, and do submit your resume and cover letter for roles that align with your skills and career goals. It is the best way to “throw your hat into the ring” for any given opportunity. Always follow the instructions for applying. Otherwise, it is possible the hiring team will not be able to consider your application along with those who did follow instructions.

It’s time for some reframing, however. The question is not, “Should I be searching job boards OR networking?” The underlying question is, “How should I allocate my time when job-seeking?”

This post focuses on that phase of life when you’re 100% between jobs. If you’re currently employed but interested in making a change, you’ll find some of these tips helpful, but you will be more selective in how you use your time.

Re-Prioritizing Your Time

A common scenario: Your position has been eliminated. You now have abundant spare time and some severance to get you through the next few months. You have good reasons not to treat this time as a vacation; you want to stay focused and land a job before your income runs out.

The lack of structure can be very disorienting. The best thing you can do is create structure in your workweek to promote your well-being while simultaneously making progress on your career next steps.

Start by getting more sleep than you usually do. Transitions are hard! Your brain-and-body need extra rest to process the changes in your life. But keep a schedule: go to bed at a specified time every night and set an alarm to wake up at the same time each morning.

Let’s say you’re getting 8 hours of sleep. So, what do you do with your 16 waking hours? That’s a lot of time. The next set of priorities includes eating right, exercising, spending time with your loved ones. This is your chance to invest in activities you need to feel healthy and balanced. Create a schedule with these activities at the center; flip the script on a work-centered schedule that too often pushes these other life-giving activities to the margins.

That still leaves you with a LOT of time for your job search. But truly, you don’t need to spend 8-10 hours a day on job-seeking activities, unless recruiters are beating down your door or you have lots of interviews scheduled. (If that’s the case, prepare to be employed soon!) Make sure you have time to “do nothing”, a luxury we often don’t feel we have when employed full time.

Job-Seeking in 6 Hours a Day

Let’s examine at the activities involved in job-seeking, and how to spend your time on each one.

Resume and Cover Letter

This activity will be your focus at the beginning of the job search. Put some time into making sure your standard resume is current and aligns well with the roles you’re interested in. Seek out a resume coach to jump-start this step. Draft a few versions of a cover letter. Then, use your boilerplate resume to update your LinkedIn profile.

Once you make that upfront investment, each application will require a few hours of work, as you tailor your resume and cover letter to align directly with the role you’re applying for. For a job you really want that “checks all the boxes” spend at most 5 hours total; spend no more than an hour for a job that is interesting but a significant stretch. Allocate additional time if you want to send your application materials to a trusted colleague or family member for feedback. Then submit it – bless and release.

Job Boards

Seeking great job postings requires a similar upfront investment. Set alerts for search terms or careers pages that are of particular interest so updates are “pushed” to you. When you first start looking at postings, there will be a large number of interesting roles available, so you’ll want to take time to sift through them to assess what really resonates.

After that initial review, though, job boards don’t refresh often enough to keep you busy. Allocate perhaps 30 minutes a day or 2-3 hours a week to review the alerts you’ve received, and re-visit key websites to ensure your “push” notifications haven’t missed anything.


This should be listed first. In a best-case scenario, you’ll be spending all your time interviewing. Realistically, if you have 3-4 interviews per week, that takes up a big chunk of your week, especially when you factor in time beforehand to prepare for the interview. Add 30 minutes after each interview to send thank you emails (if you like doing that).


Finally, networking. Spend 30-60 minutes at the beginning of each week reaching out to people in your network, asking to chat. People who know you well will welcome the opportunity to catch up and provide encouragement.

Depending on your level of extroversion, consider 1-3 calls/meetings per day for 30-60 minutes each. That said, you don’t want to fill up your calendar so much that you’re unavailable for interviews. It’s worth emphasizing that if you have a networking meeting and need to reschedule because you have an interview, your contact will be delighted for you and not at all upset that you had to cancel.

Brand Building

You can devote any time remaining in your “work” schedule to building your professional brand. This activity loops back to the first item above, reflecting on how to present yourself in your resume and cover letter. Once you are clear about that, you can spend your extra time doing in-person and online activities that align with your professional brand. Be very targeted about what you post and comment on. Show up to meetings or webinars you don’t have time for when you have a busy job. Do a bit of professional development that fills in knowledge or skills that will be additive to your career path. Be sure to add those achievements, certifications, and activities to your online profiles, and selectively to your resume.


Results may vary! Every industry is different. My hope is this post gives you some new ideas for finding balance during a full time job search.