Been there, done that. Some of these might seem like great things to do as a job seeker, but I can tell you, you can waste a considerable amount of time doing each of these things. Not really in any particular order:
- Facebook. Duh.
- LinkedIn. Not so duh… but if you are poking around, reading articles, reading influencers, sifting through Group Discussions, with no purpose, just to veg or take a break, you are probably wasting time. Looking people up? Then what do you do with them? If you are just making lists that you aren’t going to reach out to, then STOP.
- Sudoko. I know, you deserve it. It’s just one game. It’s just 15 minutes. It’s to clear your mind. Two hours later….
- Breakfasts and lunches with friends. Unless you are purposeful and strategic, and watch your time, you are just chilling, chewing the fat, and resting. A friend of mine once had 5 lunch meetings… in one day. Each one was purposeful and strategic.
- Twitter. Unless you are using tactics to quickly find your next contact, or info about that contact so you can have a meaningful conversation, it’s probably better to stay away.
- Huffington Post, Blaze, your local news site, etc. Yeah, sure you are just getting caught up on today’s news that might impact what you will talk about, or you are just taking a few minutes to rest from the job search. This will rarely result in anything important or helpful, and will more often lead you to waste a few more minutes, which will add up.
- TMZ, People, etc. Stop taking a break to see what the privileged people get to wear, do, eat, drive, etc.
- Tweaking your resume. Yes, make necessary changes. But if you are spending hours each day/week/month making changes, you are probably hiding behind the comfort of your screen rather than send that email or make that phone call.
- Tweaking your job search spreadsheet. Same as tweaking your resume. What’s more important, having a good conversation or adding a new column to track some random thing? Stop hiding! And yeah, this is one reason we made JibberJobber.
- Driving. Sure you have to go here and there, and there and here. But if you spend too much time behind the windshield, just to make these face-t0-face connections that don’t go anywhere, don’t you think you might spend your time better from your home-base?
- Phone calls, when unprepared. Do you know what you are calling for? What constitutes a successful call (or voicemail)? If you don’t know, then pause, figure out your objectives, and then figure out what successful calls look like. THEN DO THAT.
- Information Interviews, almost all the time. Unless you know what you are doing, you are probably going in with a resume, as a needy job seeker, and putting yourself in an awkward and unfortunate situation. It’s a waste of time for you and them, and you won’t get what you need. You can watch my course on Informational Interviews once you login to JibberJobber, then click the Pluralsight link in the white box. Free.
- Pouting. I know, it sucks. You were wronged. I was wronged. I worked too hard in my career, and in school, to be unemployed. But guess what? This is your story! You get to create and live your own hero story. That means things are hard, but in the end you win. Don’t spend too much time feeling sorry for yourself… it’s time to get to work.
- Cleaning your “office.” Whatever your office is… mine was a wobbly card table and La-Z-Boy, with a laptop, in a corner of my bedroom. I could spend a few minutes here and a few minutes there cleaning, tidying, dejunking… and realize that an hour later I was indeed avoiding my job search because throwing away papers is a lot easier than calling someone who might reject me.
- Knocking one more thing off the Honey Do List. Yes, things still need to get done. But there is a time to do it, just like when you had a job. It’s not time to repaint your bedroom, or put in a garden. Do this after hours, like you would have done if you had a job.
- Job boards. Stop the madness. I spent way too much time on job boards, looking, hoping… I should have been working my network, and finding jobs that weren’t advertised yet. The “hidden job market,” they call it.
- Reading books relevant to your job search or job/career. Maybe 10 or 15 minutes a day during prime time, if you need a break, otherwise save this self-study for later. Right now you need to send that email, or pick up the phone.
- Ready, fire, aim! In other words, doing without knowing what you are doing. When I started my job search I assumed that I knew how to do a job search, I just needed to muscle my way through it. I spent the next 8 weeks living on job boards, sure that the next job posted would be right for me. I wish I would have paused, listened to the experts, and re-calibrated my strategy.
- Multi-tasking. Turn off netflix, the TV, or any other distractions that are causing you to not be 100% mentally present. A couple of weeks ago I was sick and needed to sleep, so I put on a nature show to fall asleep to. The problem was it was so interesting that I couldn’t let myself fall asleep… I had to turn it off and put on something I had seen a few times… something boring.
- Doing it alone. Get an accountability partner who will help you be accountable for what you should do and where you spend your time. I didn’t have an accountability partner to help me get my MBA, why would I need one for the job search? Because for many of us, this is uncharted territory and we’ll make mistakes in tactics, and we’ll waste time on things from this list. Just knowing that someone is looking over our shoulder, or will ask you questions once a week, should help you stay on track and do the right things.
- Avoiding weekly job search clubs. I was chicken. I still get nervous when I go to these things. I get that. But this is where I learned that (a) I was okay, and normal, and I didn’t need to internalize the blame for being unemployed, and (b) I was doing all the wrong things in the job search, and how to do the right things, and (c) I was not alone, and there were many others in my boat who would help me (or who needed my help). I swear by job clubs… just realize, sometimes you go to GET, and sometimes you go to GIVE. Don’t just go to get.
A few thoughts:
There is time to do any of all of this stuff… but it’s not during the prime time of your job search.
Being busy does not equal being effective. Re-evaluate where you spend your time, and face your fears (which is usually the phone).
You can learn about a principle-based job search, and specific strategies and tactics, from my premium job search and career videos on Pluralsight – no cost to you. Here’s the step-by-step of how you do it (and get 7 days of JibberJobber premium for each course you watch!).