Sunday, December 6, 2009

Organizing the Job Search

Periodically, I take a few days off from my job to put some extra time into the part-time degree I'm working on. Sometimes though, those days aren't very productive - it usually depends on whether or not I have a plan of exactly what I want to accomplish, and how I'm going to do it. Otherwise, I just stare at the pages of equations blankly for a while before finding something else to do. It reminds me of the last couple of times I was unemployed or underemployed for a significant amount of time.

The first time, I didn't really have a job-finding plan, nor did I have any other concrete plans for the other things I wanted to accomplish in life (this was around my first year of college). I ended up getting very little done for a few months, besides burning through my savings.

The second time, I did a bit better. I scheduled a bit of time each day to study, and put together a good list of job opportunities and sought them actively. I actually found two jobs, both of which were really flexible around my school schedule, and I haven't been unemployed since. I realize now that a big part of why I've done well since is that I effectively used those couple of months where I was underemployed to make myself more employable.

A concrete schedule can definitely make time looking for a job more effective. There's a recent article about this in the New York Times: How to Turn Downtime Into Job Offers. The article focuses on smart planning of and scheduling of the various job search activities. Based on my experience, I think it's also important to schedule a couple of hours a day for concrete skills improvement, but overall it's definitely a useful article.

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