Archive for December, 2010

Schedule Your Days While in a Job Search

Many unemployed individuals struggle with handling their time without the structure of a job. This can leads to excessive wasting of time and easy distractions. Donnell Turner of the Loyola University of Chicago Career Center shared a great outline he provides to members of his alumni job club at the recent MACCA Conference. With thanks to Donnell, here is the suggested schedule with comments:

8:00 -10:00          Research-Industries and Companies*

10:00-12:00         Call/email Contacts**

12:00-1:00           Lunch

1:00-2:00              Review trade Journals/Blogs

2:00-4:00              Networking Activities**              

4:00-5:00              Apply for Jobs*

Start Out with Research. Many contacts are either commuting or settling in to their days at this time. Gather information on job & fields as well as companies you have interest in. Check for any job alerts received from any career boards you’re registered on. Set up a list of the calls and job applications to complete that day.

Call & emails. Make sure no matter how busy you get with any follow up calls and emails, you build in a set number of new or “cold” calls in to expand your contact lists. These are never fun or easy, but you’ll never get better at them without practice.

Lunch.  Add in some form of exercise, even if it’s a 30-minute walk. Take care of yourself. The stress of unemployment often leads to increases or decreases in eating and sleeping. This can take a toll on health and weight factors.

Review Trade Journals/Blogs. Rather than researching places to apply, use this period to keep up to date on your professional field information. Post comments on articles and blogs as well as asking and answering questions in LinkedIn groups. This allows more people in your field to see your expertise.

Networking Activities. Whether it’s a job club meeting or information interview, you need the interaction with other people. Work toward scheduling at least one per day. Most job seekers report that once you start requesting these meetings, they’re amazed at how easy they are to schedule.

Apply for Jobs. Slating this at the end of the day limits potential distractions from calls and follow up emails. Focus on completing each application, cover letter or résumé once you’ve started it. Only take calls or emails that require immediate attention. Without breaks, you can complete these activities more efficiently.

The *and** designate interchangeable time frames. If you feel more comfortable doing task-oriented activities first thing in the morning and research/ reading later, by all means schedule it that way. Similarly, if you prefer making networking contacts in the morning, you will probably get better results by having them when you feel more comfortable.  This can also vary from day-to-day as well. The important factor is that by scheduling and planning out your activities will result in more productive days. Then maybe you can relax a little more and do something for yourself in the evenings.

Tips on Conducting Information Interviews

Career coaches and advisors repeatedly encourage job seekers to schedule and conduct as many “Information Interviews” as possible. Unfortunately, sometimes we assume that job seekers instinctively know what constitutes an information interview and how to arrange them. As the name implies, an Information interview is when two individuals meet for the purpose of exchanging job or career- related information.  The focus usually involves a particular career field or a specific company. Typically, a job seeker or career explorer requests the meeting or interview with an individual knowledgeable about the field of interest or the company. Here are tips on requesting and getting the most benefit out of these meetings.

Often, All it Takes to Schedule a Meeting is Asking. Start with simple suggestions, like a coffee meeting, that don’t infringe much on one’s time. Offer a site close to their home or work and give them a couple of time and date options, rather than an open ended “Can we meet?” Once you start requesting such meetings, you will discover how much easier they are to schedule than you imagined.

Seek Advice and Exchanging Information. When requesting the meeting, let your contact know you want to discuss a particular field or company and seek their expertise and recommendations. Ask as many questions as possible during the meeting that treat your contact as a subject matter expert. This strategy will produce better results and information, since most people enjoy giving advice and being treated as an expert.

Provide Your Contact with Sufficient Information. When meeting to discuss a particular field, give a complete outline of your background, skills, education and areas of interest.  In meetings focused on a specific company, state your exact status regarding particular openings or departments and the status of you candidacy there. Since you have the luxury of more time than a networking event or contact offers, you can elaborate and provide more detail than you would in an introduction or “elevator” speech. The more your contact knows about your skill sets and the type work you’re seeking, he or she will be better able to provide appropriate guidance and referrals.

Allow Your Contact to Offer Information Regarding Referrals or Job Openings. An individual needs to process all your information so that he or she can best ascertain what course of action to take in trying to help you. Plus, you will also receive the strongest assistance effort by allowing one operate on his or her own schedule and comfort level.  Trust that the best way to get referrals and job leads is to make a positive impression when meeting an individual. Referring a quality individual to a colleague or co-worker offers someone potential benefits as well.

Share Your Knowledge and Expertise as Well. Networking relationships work best when both parties benefit. Throughout your meeting think of contacts or information you can offer your and don’t hesitate to provide these if you think of them after the meeting.

Show Appreciation and Stay in Touch. Thank your contacts both at the end of the meeting and with a follow up email. Invite to connect on LinkedIn if possible. Keep them updated on your progress, even when they haven’t offered any recent information. By staying on an individual’s radar screen, you increase the chances  of receiving a referral when he or she comes across such an opportunity.