“How much time should I spend looking for a job?”

Good question! Most job hunters are not spending nearly enough time doing the many tasks required to land the jobs they desire.

If you are currently unemployed, looking for a job is your new full-time job.  The time you spend doing a job search is an investment in yourself and your career, so you need to think of your job search as a structured, real job.

That means devoting 5-8 hours per day — during business hours, five days a week — with an hour off for lunch each day. Finding a job is hard work, and you want to do everything in your power to make that new position happen.

The good news is if you can stick to this plan and apply for 5-10 job opportunities per day, you are more likely to find a job much sooner.  

If you are employed but looking for a better job, obviously you have less time to devote to your search, so you must use your limited time more wisely. You will still need to do the same tasks as your unemployed counterparts, just more efficiently.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to clarify your career goals, skills, values, strengths; research and identify openings and opportunities; develop your cover letters and resume; apply online and network to find hidden opportunities; prepare for interviews and follow up with hiring managers — and to do all of this with persistence in an enthusiastic, professional and organized manner. 

Devoting 10-15 hours per week to your job search may be the commitment you need to make to succeed in finding a better position.

Regardless of your current situation, make sure to incorporate these 6 strategies into the time you spend on your job search:

  • Plan Your Day: Make a schedule and stick to it. Keep a calendar with appointments and deadlines. Perhaps keep a tally of all your job search activities and accomplishments each week.  If you are not attaining the results you desire, change your strategy the next week.
  • Get Up: Sure, it is tempting to go to bed late, then sleep in and stay in your pajamas all day.  Even if your work space is in your home, it’s a good idea to dress for work each day, to maintain a routine. Just dressing the part puts you in a better frame of mind where you think of yourself as a professional engaged in the work world. You will also be prepared in case you get called on short notice to interview with an employer.
  • Get Out: Don’t spend all your time at home where you may be distracted or tempted to do other activities unrelated to your job search. Working online is necessary, but getting out of the house, even if it is just a trip to the library or other public spaces, may clear your head, expand your perspective and lead to unexpected opportunities.
  • Keep Growing: Take a workshop to refresh your interview or computer skills, participate in webinars related to your field of interest, or consider enrolling in classes to gain new knowledge and skills that will make you more marketable.  
  • Make Connections: Set aside time daily or weekly to network – online and in-person – with your existing contacts and to build new ones. Join a job club, go to meet-ups or attend an event held by a professional association. Use LinkedIn to expand your online network and to market yourself. It can also be helpful to have an accountability partner who can motivate and support you through your job search.
  • Take Care of Yourself: Try to spend time each day doing physical activity. Whether you enjoy going to the gym, taking a walk or swimming, exercise helps you feel energized. Stay on a healthy sleep cycle and eat right. Show yourself some kindness by rewarding the efforts you make along the way.

You have to find your own rhythm. The more important question to consider may not be how much time are you spending on your job search, but are you using your time wisely? 

If you get discouraged and feel like you have hit a brick wall in your job search, it may be time to take stock. Has your self-discipline waned making it hard to stick to a daily or weekly plan? Are you frustrated because you’ve submitted countless applications and resumes but don’t get called for interviews?

Or have you been on countless interviews but never receive an offer? It may be time to consider consulting a professional such as a career coach who can help by analyzing your cover letters or your resume, doing some role-playing or mock interviewing, giving you constructive feedback, and support you in staying on track. A bit of professional advice and guidance might be the boost you need.

When it comes to a job search, investing the right amount of time and using that time wisely may be the key to landing your dream job.

The JCS Career Center offers comprehensive employment services to help job seekers of all abilities and skill levels find and maintain employment or change their career. Services include career coaching, career assessments, resumes, interview preparation, and connections to employers who are hiring. For information, call 410-466-9200 or visit jcsbalt.org.