Are you slacking in your job search?

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It’s often advised that looking for work should be treated like a full-time job — that job-seekers should literally devote eight hours a day, five days a week to their job searches. While that may seem like a lot of time, some experts believe that — in today’s economy — it’s the only way to get hired. Selena Dehne, a career writer for JIST Publishing and regular CareerBuilder contributor, spoke to one such expert.

By Selena Dehne

According to Michael Farr, author of “The Quick Résumé & Cover Letter Book,” the average job seeker spends fewer than 15 hours a week looking for work. Although 15 hours may seem like a great deal of time, it’s quite minimal in comparison to the 25 hours or more that Farr recommends job seekers devote to their search for employment each week.

“The average length of unemployment varies from three or more months, with some being out of work far longer,” explains Farr. “There is a clear connection between how long it takes to find a job and the number of hours spent looking on a daily and weekly basis. The more time you spend on your job search each week, the less time you are likely to remain unemployed. Of course, using more effective job search methods also helps. Those who set aside a solid amount of time for their job search activities and use this time wisely generally secure jobs in half the average time; and they often get better jobs, too.”

Farr suggests that job seekers create a specific daily schedule that keeps them on task and accountable for how their job search progresses. Here is a sample schedule provided in his book.

7–8 a.m.

Get up, shower, dress and eat breakfast.

8–8:15 a.m.

Organize workspace, review schedule for interviews or follow-ups and update schedule.

8:15–9 a.m.

Review old leads for follow-up and develop new leads (want ads, Internet, networking lists and so on).

9–10 a.m.

Make networking or direct employer phone calls, establish Internet contacts and set up meetings and interviews.

10–10:15 a.m.

Take a break.

10:15–11 a.m.
Make more new calls and Internet contacts.

11–12 p.m.
Make follow-up calls and send e-mails as needed.

12–1 p.m.

Lunch break.

1–5 p.m.
Go on interviews and networking meetings, make cold contacts in the field and conduct research for upcoming interviews.

5–8 p.m.
Attend networking events.

How long do you spend on your job search each day? Let us know in the comments section, below.

For more on job searching, see:

Graduating college this year? Start your job search off right

Job searching? Take a cue from ‘The Price is Right’

7 secrets for a smarter job search

31 Comments
    • “This is ridiculous.”

      Really? Sounds reasonable to me. Espcially if you’ve been milking your unemployment for the past year and haven’t “looked” for a job since the 1980′s. The times have changed, either change with them or get out of the way of others who have.

      • Exactly Amanda. These freeloaders claim they do all of these things, and they complain that its never their fault its someone elses fault. Obviously they’re not doing something right, are you?

  1. Sorry, Amanda. I agree with #1. This is absurd.

    I can research every available job within 50 miles of my home in less than a half hour. There might be one or two new jobs each day that even come close to matching my skills and experience. I can send a customized resume and cover letter to each one within a half hour. I can spend the next fifteen minutes following up on the resumes I sent out yesterday.

    I love this: 5–8 p.m.
    Attend networking events.

    There might be one “networking event” a week in my area. If that. Certainly not one every day.

    And have you actually tried cold-calling for a job in the current market? HR people are not receptive to this technique at all. They will quickly redirect you to their website which lists all of the current job openings and has instructions for submitting an application.

    I have been actively seeking employment for almost 500 days now. I have 35 years of work experience, twenty of those in management. I have a degree in business from a decent university. I have professional certifications.

    In my post-collegiate life, there has only been one time that I interviewed for a job and did not receive a job offer. But in this current job market, I cannot even get an interview.

    • Instead of looking at the sample schedule for tools that may be of help to you, you dismiss the entire idea. Apparently your methodology is more successful.

      As a hiring manager, I can smell entitlement and arrogance a mile away. The mellifluous odor can cling to a resume or seep through a receiver.

      You may just be the un-hirable 4%.

      • If you are a hiring manager, you must not be very good at your job. I have no sense of “entitlement” or arrogance. I was simply providing background for my commentary. If I am “un-hirable”, as you so kindly put it, then why have I never had a problem finding a jobe before? Why have I always risen to a mangement position within one to two years of being hired? Why have I always had Performance reviews that earned me the top level of salary increases?

        In my last position, I started an entire new department for my employer. I single-handedly selected over a quarter million dollars of equipment, hired the opening crew and trained the department manger for a department that generates over a million dollars a year, with a 30% net profit (six years in a row). I also took a company that had virtually no computer infrastructure, and built a network of eight servers, and 100 personal computers without any assistance from outside vendors.

        I have very valuable business skills, and a proven record of performance at a high level. You are very unwise to make comments like “un-hirable” about someone that you know nothing about. I can’t believe that someone pays you to make hiring decisions.

  2. I agree that setting a job search schedule is a good idea. However, focus and time management get complicated if one has several part-time, sometimes overlapping, assignments or contract work (don’t always pay well) and, in my case, care-giving responsibilities. Networking events need to be chosen with care and with an eye to earlybird registration; many worthwhile ones are not free but are $60, $75, or more.

  3. Yes, I am taking much needed time off, and don’t feel a bit guilty about it.

    I am interested in learning not jumping back into a cubical with minimum wages and benefits.

    Deal with it.

  4. S-T-U-P-I-D! I am a HR Director for small business and now a Fortune 500. Walk into our offices and try to “Network” or cold call you will immediately be told to refer to our website for career opportunities.
    Write a great resume, introduce yourself and skills in a great cover letter. Stand out, don’t exhaust yourself, follow up calls are fine, calls and walk ins are nothing more than a waste of your time and ours. All position with the exception of SOME not all hourly jobs are internet applied for jobs. Fax is fine. Walk ins not recommended and please people I know this person who wrote this book is a supposed expert, but your skills are what get you recognized not a full schedule of “busy” work. Relax a little, put in full hearted effort, YES. But don’t make a full time job out of searching. There will never ever be matches for what you are looking for everyday and you can only contact a potential employer so much before you become annoying.

    • I think our friend who wrote how to get a job is Right on people.
      My husband and I help out for a career seeking
      at out church. This group is huge.
      Lake Forest Calif.
      When my husband got on board with all of the above he got The job.His additude changed
      and what happend was he broke through his depression by helping others and they helped him in return.Doing everything in a schedule like that helps from getting into Vacation mode for days months and possibly years.Those habbits are hard to break.I lived with it for three years.

      • The group is a free group at Saddleback church
        Lake Forest Calif.
        HR people help others learn to write a great resume and cover letter in classes. How to net work and how to interview.The recommend net working groups face to face metting several times a week . Once a month we have a mixer were where 20 to 25 companies attend and give out jos and interviews.There is career council avaliable… During this time every week at several tables we exchange our New cards we have designed and tell each other about people we have run across during networking and interviewing or on line that would fit each other. We had the CEO of a major cosmetic company come and talk. He has been in different lines of work for years and met all kinds of industry individuals.
        He plays golf with other company owners. He recommended my husband to a friend who owns a good size financial investment firm. Through the group and several interviews latter he got the job.Find people who will meet with you and help out.Don’t give up but most of all don’t isolate your self.

  5. The real problem is that modern HR people are too lazy or scared to meet people face to face these days. They rely entirely computer data and pshyco-babble quiz’s instead of meeting real people. Its not unlike modern animation. There’s real people behind those voices that you might have to actually face instead of hiding behind a computer screen sucking your thumb.

  6. I have to agree with the people who vote this schedule as being ridiculous.

    If you take a close look at the “sample schedule”, the job seeker has just put in 10.5 hours on looking for work … in 1 day. This would mean that they could work 1 more day like that and get almost all the recommended hours per week that the “expert” recommends. It’s not credible to think you can get 20-25 hours per week and have a schedule like that on any given day.

    Conversely, if every day (in a 5 day work week) was like this, then they would have put in 52.5 hours per week. Again – not credible, and not just because it went over the “recommended” number of hours.

    Furthermore, the schedule assumes that all the people receiving the cold calls/requests for networking/etc. happen to be sitting around waiting to be contacted at exactly the right time, per some pre-conceived schedule. Life does not work that way!

    Also, this schedule does not factor in temp work/volunteering/etc. Temp work and volunteering is also recommended, but you obviously can’t do some of these tasks and temp work/volunteering at the same time.

    BOTTOM LINE: 20-25 hours is a nice goal to shoot for, but I won’t get upset if I go under or over that number. There are simply too many other factors out there that the “expert” cannot possibly foresee.

  7. As the schedule is laid out in the article, it is quite unrealistic. However, I believe it is meant to be used as a sample. For example, more than likely there is no place where you can go to 5 networking meetings in any one week.

    Most people should have a plan and can use the example as a starting point.

    Amanda, ask your boss to send you for some sensitivity training – you can use it.

  8. Yes this is absolutely ridiculous. I’ve been on both ends. The unemployed AND the hiring manager. As the hiring manager, unless I provided my phone number or Email in the ad, then don’t contact me to follow up. If you are a candidate then you’re going to get called for an interview, plain and simple. Yes, a lot of HR reps have gotten a little lazy relying on their computers to scan resumes, but even the proactive personable ones are dealing with a LOT of resumes. They can only realisticly contact those who are being considered. You are smart, employable people, so if you don’t hear back then you know you weren’t considered.
    On the other hand, as someone currently unemployed and actively looking, the only thing I can agree with in this sample schedule is getting up every morning like you are going to go to work. Not only does it get you out of bed, but what if, just WHAT IF, someone calls you for an interview TODAY!?
    Get up, check your Emails, check to see if there are new jobs posted, follow up if there are jobs to follow up on, and then go do something else productive for a few hours (continue your education in your field? research and learn new skills?), then at the end of the day, check your Email again and then just call it a day! If you are truly looking and giving it your all, then that’s really all you can do.

  9. I agree with Tom. The sample schedule is just that – a sample. Per the article “Farr suggests that job seekers create a specific daily schedule that keeps them on task and accountable for how their job search progresses.”

    The details of the listed schedule are only suggestions to help a person create their own plan. A person can choose/add activities that work for him/her and subtract those that don’t. They can make a plan to work within their own time constraints including volunteering, care giving, etc.

    Just like any job there are no two days that will be exactly alike. Use your schedule as guidance rather than an absolute requirement of time and activities.

  10. I just graduated with my masters degree, with not as much work experience but more research experience throughout school. What do hiring managers expect from new grads? What should they highlight? Clearly my university was useless. And what are some ways for us to get our feet into our fields? This article is a little much. I try to spend a good amount of time everyday looking for jobs and applying, but its definitely not easy.

  11. Some people can’t collect unemployment insurance when they are victims of an employer layoff. Because employers are turning around and claiming that their employees quit, to claim a voluntary guit and prevent unemployment claimants from collecting unemployment insurance.

    True story because I have been living without any income for 5 months now, and every interview has failed to provide me with a source of income.

    It is getting to the point where it is NOT worth my time to drive around to all these places making employer contacts, and be spending gas money that I don’t have.

    There is a real problem with Unemployment compensation lately, as both employers and State officials are denying unemployment claims.

    No employee should have to go to work and find that their employer has failed to schedule them for two whole week, and NOT be able to claim that as a layoff.

    Because when you are unemployed through no fault of your own, and the state isn’t paying you unemployment compensation, there is no reason to have a costly and extensive work search.

  12. Ridiculous.

    Consider the profile of the applicant who has the following attributes which are considered undesirable:
    1) age; over56
    2) past 20 years job title: c-level jobs; 15 as CEO
    3) historical compensation 6 figures, plus
    4) two years of entrapenuarial efforts
    5) heart and medical problems for 4 months

    All of these have led to overqualified decisions. Reality is they consider someone like me as a flight risk.
    I have worked in a small and largely private industry for 35 years.
    Even after 3-4 interviews, the decision is to pass. I have managed HR departments for at least 20 years and know etiquette and presentation as a potential employee.
    I have even been told that I could do the owners or Presidents job. I have been informed that there would be no growth opportunities.
    Basically, the employers think that taking a middle manager position will only be temporary for me and I will leave at the first chance for a higher level job.
    In most cases, I am confident that I am the most qualified person for the job, yet, the opportunity is never offered. I have never not found a job after a few months in 35 years and this new economy has limited opportunities in all of the management positions inside or outside my industry and network.

    I have heard several bloggers say the employees blame employers for their plight. It’s true that employers discriminate against older employees with very successful backgrounds.

    Fortunately, I am tenacious and will penetrate these barriers and land a job that the employer will benefit greatly with my performance. I will remain positive and optimistic. If you want something bad enough, you can find a way!

  13. All of this sounds great, but the best advice I ever had was.. If you don’t have a job, you need to make “looking for a job” your full time job until you find a job. Works every time!

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