Its time for a change.
You may feel there Poor management at your workplace, your salary isn’t keeping up with your expenses, or you’re just feeling overwhelmed. Or maybe you don’t feel any very negative feelings about your current position, but would like to do something new, find more opportunities for growth, or simply have more flexibility and better benefits.
So you’re telling yourself it’s time to look for a new job. but how? Between your current job, taking care of household responsibilities, decompression, and necessities like food and sleep, it just doesn’t feel like there’s enough time. You don’t want to be left behind at work, and your outside commitments fill up a lot of your free time in general.
As a time management coach, I help many people in this situation learn how to keep up with their current workload, while making time for what’s ahead. I help them plan in an intentional way to gain traction and balance all their responsibilities while still making progress.
Before you even begin your job search, take a step back and look at your calendar on a high level to decide when to commit yourself to the process. I recommend setting aside at least two to three hours a week to devote to searching for a new opportunity. If you’ve been in a relatively quiet time at work and out of the office, this might be the right moment to move on. But if you’re in your busiest period, about to go on an extended vacation, or you’re faced with a once-a-year month of playoffs, family parties, or other commitments, this probably isn’t the best season to take on the job search. Instead, find a time when your work should stabilize and your home life will be less variable. Then make a note in your calendar to start next.
Once you’ve decided when is the right time to start, follow these tips to fit the job search into your schedule into four key stages of the process.
The first stage of a job search is determining what you want in a new position. I often see that people feel like they want a new role, but don’t actually know what they’d like to do. If you find yourself in this situation, you will likely need to conduct a combination of online research and informational interviews to learn more about the opportunities.
In the online research phase, you have an incredible amount of autonomy over how much time you spend on it. You might choose a regular evening after work when you know you usually have at least one free hour when you can dedicate attention to scouting for trends, researching in-demand skills, and glancing at job openings. To make sure you’re consistent, put this commitment on your calendar as a recurring weekly event. And if you’re struggling to motivate yourself to do your research when you’re at home, consider popping into a bookstore or coffee shop to give yourself a little extra push (caffeine is optional).
For informational interviews, you’ll need to accommodate other people’s schedules, but you can still think about how you fit in the time. If you are serious about finding a new job right now and would like to network more, make sure to set aside time each week to think about who you want to connect with and connect with. This could be a weekday evening or morning, or you could take time out on the weekends. Put this on your calendar as a recurring event, too.
Once you get responses from people, time your contact strategically. If the meetings are face-to-face, consider making it an early coffee meet-up before work hours or over a happy hour at the end of the day. If the meetings are virtual, you can schedule them for almost any time and consider the call as your lunch break. One word of caution, though: If you’re looking to watch your schedule, be sure to hook up over lunch. Once you factor in driving to a personal space, you’ll likely be spending more than the usual hour away from your desk. This can be fine if you have the flexibility to make up time later, but if you eat long lunches more than once a week, you can easily get left behind.
Once you’ve decided on your overall direction, you’ll need to prepare to apply. For most individuals, this includes updating their resume or resume and sprucing up their LinkedIn profile.
I’ve seen that the preparation phase is often where people get stuck in either procrastination or perfectionism – or both. If you find yourself procrastinating, set a specific day and time to start your updates, such as “This Saturday morning after breakfast.” Then devote yourself to this task for an hour or two at the allotted time. Once you reach the end of the time block, decide when you will start again. It’s usually impossible to make all the changes you want in one session, but if you keep moving forward, you’ll end up making progress.
If you need a little extra encouragement, positive peer pressure may help. This could be a friend you pledge to send your LinkedIn profile to for review, a colleague you’ll pick up your resume to proofread, or a hired coach to help you navigate the process. There is often a lot of vulnerability around showing yourself, so having supportive people around you who can give you nudges, feedback, and encouragement can help.
If you’ve revised your resume and LinkedIn profile but find yourself going back to it again and again to edit and edit, you may have fallen into the perfectionist trap. At a certain point, work is better than perfect. If you have two people looking at what you’ve put together and they think it’s okay, it’s usually best to head to the next stage of your job search: applications.
The application process will likely look similar to what you experienced in the scouting phase, where there will be a combination of online research and informational interview time. Make sure you look within your organization and at previous companies you’ve worked for, as well as new ones, because Internal recruitment and turnover employees in trend.
You probably want to do a quick daily check for new posts, rather than a longer search session once or twice a week like you did in the phrase explore. This ensures that you don’t miss any interesting posts and that you have enough time to complete orders before they are due. Put a daily recurring reminder in your phone or calendar each morning or evening so that you remember to look at any major task bulletin boards or at least check your alerts.
If you’re in the middle of an application, you may need to set aside an extended amount of time for several days in a row to complete it. In those cases, you’ll need to do a little weekly planning to plan out how this will work with your schedule. Perhaps you can start the application questions this evening, but then set a time in the following days in the morning, at lunch, or in the evening to finish it. See what you can transfer or where you can get help, if needed, to save time completing the application. For example, maybe you could reschedule a lunch date with a colleague or ask your partner to do the school drop-off and pick up the kids for a few days. And you can try to get fewer fixed commitments into your schedule overall when you know you’ll need to spend a lot of time on apps. Consider holding back any major travel plans or volunteer commitments during the time of your serious job search so you have the flexibility to act when an opportunity presents itself.
Depending on the length, timing, and location of your interviews, this can be the hardest part of the process to schedule when you’re looking for a new job.
If you work remotely or hybrid and the interviews are virtual, plan for a day when you work remotely. If it’s short, you can simply consider the interview your lunch break. If it’s a long period, you’ll need to take time off or work early, late, or on weekends to make up time. Ideally, I would ask if it would be possible to conduct interviews at the beginning of the day, at the end of your day, or around lunch to minimize disruption to your current job. If you need to interview multiple people for the same job, you may want to request that those interviews be held back-to-back rather than having to schedule them over different days or weeks as well. If you’re suggesting this option, just be sure that you’ll be able to keep your energy up over hours of interviews.
If you work in the office full time or the interviews are in-person, you will likely need time off to cover the time. (Consider saving a PTO now!) If possible, request that interviews start right at the beginning of the day or right after lunch so you can take a half day off instead of a full day. Also, be careful about booking too many formal meetings for your current job on the days you’re interviewing. If the interview is going on for a long time, you don’t want to get nervous because you’re about to miss an important meeting with your boss and be caught speeding into the interview. You don’t necessarily need to reveal to your manager why you get half a day off, but you do Do Need to come to a 2pm meeting if you say you’ll be working that afternoon.
Finding a new job can feel like a job in itself. But when you persistently and consistently put time into the process, you can make progress and secure a new position.