If your job hunting experience is synonymous with "sleeping till noon" and "eating Chipotle burrito bowls," then you're doing it wrong. While applying to a handful of listings during an afternoon might feel productive while job hunting, there's actually a plethora of things that you could be doing to ensure that not only you get a new job quickly, but you get one that's a total dream. Think about it: Would you rather hop over to a new office that only offers marginally more benefits and opportunities than your last one, or do you want to land that dream job that you've been hoping for ever since you graduated school.
Granted, it takes a lot of applying yourself to hustle to find that holy grail of a job, but if you're stuck at home skimming Craigslist ads and reaching out to contacts with hook ups, you might as well add a little more effort in and land yourself a job that could really help your career.
A job search isn't just about randomly sending out your resume to as many listings as you can get your hands on. You can take this break from a nine to five to really beef up your portfolio, get better acquainted with your industry, and make powerful new connections. below are seven productive things to do while job hunting!
1. Buff Those Skills On The Resume
You have nowhere to be this whole afternoon, this whole, day, this whole week — so take advantage of it! Go down your resume and see what skills you can buff with new courses, books, or seminars, and get to updating. Or even better yet, take this time to fill the holes you didn't have time to work on while you were doing the nine to five grind.
Lifestyle writer Kat Boogaard from lifestyle site The Everygirl pointed out, "...if you’ve always wanted to improve your coding skills, sign up for a course at your a technical college. Or, attend a seminar or lecture that covers a topic you’ve been meaning to learn more about. Not only do these events present an opportunity to refine your skills, but they’re also an effective way to meet new people who could potentially help you in your job search!"
Not only will it make your resume 10 times more impressive, but you might actually find the link to your next job if you get out of the house!
2. Start Networking Like It's Your Job
Speaking of getting out of the house, you need to start networking like your life depended on it. Yes, it might be awkward to crash an event where people stand around in pencil skirts and eat finger foods while they talk shop, but the more connections you make the easier it will be to find your next dream job. Think about it: It's a lot easier to get an interview when somebody personally recommends you than it is sending a resume via an email.
Boogaard encouraged, "Many community organizations host networking events for local professionals, so check out when a few of those are happening in your area. Reach out to some of your past mentors and contacts to set up a coffee date. Or, contact a company that you really admire to set up an informational interview." Fill your planner up with all sorts of meetings and events!
3. Come Up With Ideas On How Your Next Company Will Slay
Want to impress your interviewers when you come striding into their office? Take your down time while job hunting to think up of new ideas how you can contribute to the next company you'll work for. And go all out: Don't just come up with vague plans, but draft and organize them as if you'd have to present them to the boss tomorrow morning.
Leadership writer Jacquelyn Smith at Forbes offered, "Whether it’s an idea for a marketing campaign, new revenue stream, cost savings, etc., the candidates who show up at an interview with ideas demonstrate that they are passionate, knowledgeable, and excited about the opportunity." Take out the thinking pad!
4. Beef Up Your Portfolio
If you feel like it's been weeks since you got a decent call-back, it might be time to do some free work in order to beef up your portfolio and gain relevant experience.
Business writer Jayson Demers at the entrepenuer site Inc recommended, "Taking on short-term unpaid (or low-paying) gigs can give you additional experience in your chosen specialty, and can increase your chances of being the perfect candidate for your dream job." Volunteer at events, offer to write articles, take on small freelance gigs — do what ever is relevant and available for your industry.
5. Start A Blog
If you take your down time as a chance to become a known expert in your field, you can only imagine how excited employers would be to meet you at the interview. Create a blog and start gathering a community where you report on and discuss what's happening in the industry, asserting yourself as a key player.
Smith explained, "Eleven percent of the surveyed employers said a professional blog can be a good way to market yourself to employers. Why? You get people to see you as an expert in your field." Even if no one reads the blog, at the very least it'll be a great motivator to keep learning about your industry and keeping your finger on the pulse on what's happening.
6. Let Your Network Know What You're Looking For
Do you have a Twitter following that has a lot of key players from your industry, do you have important connections on LinkedIn, or helpful comrades on your email lists? If so, announce to them that you're searching for a job and run over exactly what you're looking for. You never know who will pitch a lead or offer to introduce you to your next boss.
Demers explained, "Employers are looking for people they know and trust, and are increasingly relying on personal recommendations from colleagues and employees." Don't hide the fact that you're looking — the more help the better!
7. Get Organized
Job searches are messy beasts, so you need to make sure you're keeping track of everyone you've reached out to and giving yourself tasks and reminders to touch back with them in order to make any real progress. Don't leave it all up to chance — what are the odds you'll get a call back to your dream job without a little bit of elbow grease?
Lifestyle writer Brie Reynolds from Lifehack suggested, "This should include a sheet for the jobs you’ve applied to (with which companies, on what date, to whom, and with which resume/letter, and dates of follow-up). You should have a separate sheet of the networking contacts you’ve followed up with (who, when, what transpired, leads to follow up with). Make part of your daily routine updating this sheet to stay on track."
If you use your time off in this way while job searching, the hunt will be a whole lot less painful. Good luck!