The Creative Jobseeker–Don’t Be a Slave to Your Job Search

If you are thinking of a new job or have new career ideas, or if your company may force you to think of a new job or career, now is certainly the time to get ready, not after you’re already out of work. 

But once you’re out of work, how should you spend your time?  Many people say spend at least 40 hours a week on your job search–after all, it’s your new full time job.

If you can find 40 hours of productive work, and it’s not wearing you out to the point you’re headed for an illness or exhausted presentation at your next interview–then that’s fine.  IN the first weeks of unemployment you probably need to spend that much time on your job search.

But this is the real world folks, and in the real world, you may be a lot better off taking time off from your job search in planned ways than pushing yourself unproductively for 40 hours a week every week if you don’t find a job right away.

I’m just not convinced from what I see that most people can put in 40 useful hours, but some do this out of a desire to prove to themselves and others that they are doing all they can.  So they spend hours in social media trying to make new connections, or reply to job ads they know don’t fit what they want or what the company really wants–simply because it’s putting in the time.

What should you do?

Focus on the basics.  Assuming you will be staying in your same field/career/job area, focus on

1.  Networking–always the big daddy of job search and no different today except for the new ways to network. 

I like to think of this as building and tapping into your community of support where you find ways you can help others at least as much as you seek help.  Even during your time of need when out of work, helping others should remain important.  If you are not contacting most everyone you know and asking for new leads from them, you are not doing your job.     

2.  Customize and complete your profiles

Profiles include your

  • Resume (standard and portfolio style as on
  • Cover letter
  • Online presence in LinkedIn, FaceBook, Twitter, etc.  

Don’t skimp on these, especially your resume and cover letters.  Each resume and cover letter you send out to particular jobs should be customized with KEYWORDS from the job description so you can at least get past the computer/human screeners for the first round of screening.

3.  Research job openings and company profiles at companies you might want to work for even if they don’t have openings now.  Do what you can to get past the HR managers even if only to get an email, phone call or brief intro meeting with some decisionmakers in a company you like.

These are not the only things to do, but they have by far the biggest impact.

And Then Do…

If you are doing these 3 well, don’t spend hours at your computer searching for some new Twitter group or contact, some new job lead, some new way to tweak the resume again–just to put in your time.

Instead, make sure you spend the time in other activities, things that maybe you couldn’t when you were at work:

  1. Exercising
  2. Meditating or doing something to stay centered and focused
  3. Taking your time with healthy vs. fast food rushed meals
  4. Sleeping adequately, probably about 8 hrs a day
  5. Catching up in the key skill or knowledge areas in your field of expertise.
  6. Learning something new in another field.  Very often, creativity and innovation come about from applying an idea from one field to a new field.  Get creative–you’ll also be more employable.

When people are out of work and can’t afford some of the fun things they normally do, they often just shut down all fun or else beat themselves up for wasting time in front of the TV.  Reconnect with hobbies and with family and friends in ways that don’t cost money but share good, upbeat energy. 

These 7 non job search actions are necessary, not fluff.  They will improve your mental, physical, and spiritual health.  And there’s a bonus–they are also what will keep you energized, motivated, and positive and confident.  If you can display these qualities when networking and on job interviews, you are MUCH MORE LIKELY TO MAKE THAT ALL IMPORTANT CONNECTION that makes people say, this is someone who I would like to work with, that can get things done, who stands out.

In other words, sure–do the due diligence tasks of jobhunting.  These will take time.  Don’t avoid them.  But see the opportunities that are there to further your well being in other ways and to not waste time with busy work.  After all, when you get that new job, you will probably find it a lot harder to get all that exercise, sleep, meditation, learning, and family and fun time back into your life.

–Career changers, jobseekers–Be sure to sign up for free career and creativity ezine and bonus

© 2009 Leonard Lang.



The Creative Jobseeker–Don’t Be a Slave to Your Job Search — 6 Comments

  1. Great advice. I’ve been searching non-stop and I found that I’ve run out of new job postings. I especially like the following advice:

    “Learning something new in another field. Very often, creativity and innovation come about from applying an idea from one field to a new field. Get creative–you’ll also be more employable.”

    So true. The more you can diversify yourself, the more marketable you are.

  2. Yes, you’ve picked up on a key element in this post. Looking outside your field where everyone else is looking will not only freshen your thinking and show companies your flexibility and ability to offer solutions, it can also give you new ideas for you go about your own networking and job search (or career change if that’s what you’d like).

  3. Gary–I plan to update more often again starting this month. I’ll keep in mind this topic–how to use your time well and creatively in the job search. One key point–while you don’t want to put in busywork time, as I indicated in the article, you do want to keep up momentum. That sense is hard to regain. Maybe I should write more on that?

  4. Finding a job during these times has become very depressing indeed. As a HR employer and I contribute to a few job websites out there. From my expereince the people who end up getting the jobs are very confident in their minds. They won’t know the answer to every question however they sure know how to answer. Also if your applying for a niche role go and do some research about it first and see how you can adapt yourself to it. Using that knowledge the interview process becomes much easier. Just be confident and keep trying, eventually you will find a job.

    Just thought I’de give my 2 cents. Brilliant article mate.

    Expert Job Blogger