Finding a job is a job in and of itself! Facing even greater challenges, active duty service members must balance their day-to-day military obligations while searching for a new career. Here are a few tips to help you get organized and make the most out of your time:
Make a Schedule: Juggling work, family and the job search is no easy task. In fact, this balancing act may make you favor action (job search activities) over planning, but taking time to write out a schedule may actually help save you time in the end. Additionally, there are clear benefits to developing a job search plan, such as helping you to prioritize your activities, stay focused, and maintain momentum. I find the following steps useful when developing my schedule:
- Set monthly goals/milestones; then break down those into weekly goals
- Check your work schedule and other commitments (events, family, friends, etc)
- Identify weekly actions to meet the goals, being sure to plan around your existing obligations
- Spread this week’s list of actions throughout the week. If you keep a calendar, schedule the time!
- Each night (or every other night) review the tasks for the next day and make adjustments if necessary
- Always prioritize
Be Flexible: This may seem contradictory to creating a schedule, but it’s important to embrace the fact that things come up. You may have to cancel an informational interview because you have to stay home with your sick child. Maybe you have to work late one night, which keeps you from finalizing your resume. In the military, we are used to working within a structured environment while maintaining our flexibility (semper gumby). Planning for your job search is no different! As your commitments change, revisit your schedule to weave in job search activities when possible.
Be Realistic: Be realistic about the time things take – it’s easy to convince yourself an activity will take less time than it actually does. In fact, you may get easily discouraged if you overload your plate. Maintain a pulse on how quickly you can complete job search activities and refine your schedule to better incorporate realistic expectations. As your job search progresses, you will get a better sense of how to allocate the time. Better yet – allocate max times for activities. For example, 30 minutes max to research companies, 1 hour max to refine my resume, etc. This will help you manage expectations (personal and family) in a more positive way.
Carve Out Time: We all have different demands on our time and life battle rhythms. Find a way to carve time, even 15 minutes, out of your day. Perhaps you can start your morning a half hour earlier or go to bed a half hour later. Instead of watching your favorite 1 hr TV show live, watch the DVR recording without the commercials. Take a lunch break to research jobs instead of eating with colleagues. 15 minutes may not seem like a lot but 15 min X 30 days = a lot of progress.
Multi-Task: Some research indicates that multi-tasking actually makes you less efficient. For example, you are not as productive when working on your resume while watching TV. In some instances, multi-tasking is appropriate and may help you knock out some job search activities. For example, print out articles and read at the gym (in between weight sets, stationary bike or elliptical). Brainstorm your elevator pitch or think through potential career paths during a run. You could also bring job search materials to read on the bus/metro or while waiting for a medical appointment.
© 2012 SwitchStarter, LLC