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Saturday, August 7, 2010

5 Ways to Stay Productive While You Search for a Job

It can be easy to be discouraged when searching for a job, even if you have one. It’s very similar to dating: you have to present your best self and then hope they like you enough to give you a call back. This means you might have to endure a lot of discouraging rejection, and once you start feeling discouraged, you might get the urge to quit your search. The only problem is that with a job search you can’t just quit.
There are a lot of ways to stay productive and keep moving when you’researching for a job, even if it seems like you’re not getting a lot of traction. The most important thing to do is not give up. Here are five tips that will help you stay productive in your search.


It’s not likely you will get a job with the first resume and cover letter you send out. (Congratulations if you do … maybe you also should buy a lottery ticket!) So, don’t expect a home run on your first try.
Start with small steps. For example, make a goal to send out five cover letters and resumes one week. Try to set up a few informational interviews the next week.
Break your big goals down into achievable chunks, and you’ll see positive results that you can feel good about more quickly.


It helps to feel more confident about your search if you’re making progress. A great way to do this is by keeping a list of goals you create and steps you need to take to get there. Then feel good about yourself by putting big check marks on the list when you’ve accomplished each step.
Remember the goals listed above? Maybe you secured three informational interviews with professionals in your industry. Make note of that.
Go back and read your list again whenever you feel like your search has stalled. You may need to repeat some steps.


Even though you might not have a job right now, you will soon. Think of skills that would come in handy once you start a job in your industry, and take the time to learn them now. Do you want to be a journalist at a magazine? Study AP and Chicago styles inside and out. Do you want to work in marketing? Start learning about ways to optimize Twitter channels and Facebook pages.
Then, volunteer these services to others on a nonprofit basis. You’re never a burden on anyone if you work for free. Plus, this means you’re building experience for your resume, and that never hurts.
But make sure that you’re not simply being exploited for free labor that profits someone else much more than it benefits your own training, and that the time volunteered does not interfere with your job search.


Even though your industry mentors might not have any jobs available for you when you’re looking, if you stay on their radar you have a better chance of becoming the candidate that pops into their minds when there is a job that opens. We’re not saying you should be annoying, but touch base every month or so.
The key to doing this without becoming the most annoying person in the world is by actually making it meaningful to them. See an interesting article that is relevant to their industry? Forward it. Come across a new research study with interesting stats? Email it to them. Then tell them what you’ve been up to, what work you’ve done for free, any projects you’re working on, etc.
This will not only raise your value in their eyes, but it will keep you on their mind in case something comes along. And if it does? You already have a great relationship and chances are the job would be a really good fit for you. Plus they might be a very good reference for you when an employer is giving you serious consideration for an opening.


Do you have a Twitter page? Great! But think about it. What do you use it for? Is it to tell your friends when you’re at a concert or having a frustrating day? How can that help you with your job search?
Consider creating a new Twitter channel that focuses on the industry you want to get into. If you want to work as a wedding planner, begin tweeting tips on how to make the big day go off without a hitch, and begin following other planners.
Continue to try to think of other ways to be innovative. The more creative you are in your job search, the better chance you have of standing out among the clutter. And the added bonus? Whenever you’re working on something, you will feel productive. And when you feel productive, you create opportunities for yourself. You never know who could be reading your Twitter tweets…

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