With summer coming fast, it’s very tempting to blow off the job or internship search and spend your day lounging in the sun. Unfortunately, unless you’re planning on landing a swimsuit model job or applying for a lifeguard position, this isn’t an approach with a high rate of success.
To help you create a sense of urgency and to avoid an unintended summer break, you need a job search plan with set goals and milestones.
To help you do just that, here are some by-the-numbers suggestions on how to chart your course, add some structure to your day, and give yourself quantifiable goals. By tracking each of these areas proven to lead to job search success, you’ll give you a sense of accomplishment and confidence as your job search moves into the summer months:
1 ) Number of Job Search ‘Buddies’
These buddies will be those you report to on a weekly basis, and perhaps they you.
Fact: it is a huge motivation for you to get off the sofa when you know you need to call this person on Friday and report back on your weekly activities. Your job search buddies will hold you accountable and be your ‘cheerleader’ at the same time.
NOTE: Make sure that your buddies are someone who is a friend, mentor or colleague. Don’t rely on someone in your household… this could be a potential sticky wicket with family relationships if you somehow fall off the job search momentum train.
2 ) Number of Articles Read Each Week
When you are unemployed or out of work, it is easy to feel that you are getting left behind on industry trends and issues. It makes sense to keep yourself informed and abreast of current events – not just so you can interject a useful bit of information in an interview, but also to have something to talk about when networking.
It’s amazing when you have a clear command of what’s going on in the world how easy it is to find opportunities to talk about what you’ve read or learned. And by sharing those posts and articles on social media, an added bonus is that people will see you as a great resource!
3 ) Number of Networking Events Each Week
Shy? Get over it. The ocean is full of sharks right now, and you need to be one of them. That means getting out of the house, and getting out to networking events. But the key isn’t to think of one of these opportunities as a horrible exercise in doing something you hate. Take a completely different approach…
My friend Cleon Cox, founder of the Portland Job Finders Support Group has this mantra:
“Meet people, learn something, and have fun. If you go into a networking or business meeting with that attitude, the pressure is off and you are just there to find out about the world.”
Think of yourself as an explorer… you never know what you might uncover!
4 ) Number of Educational Events Each Month
When you are not working, there is the fear that you are getting ‘off the merry-go-round’ and losing ground to career competitors. But smart job searchers realize that there is a huge opportunity to be gained during this time: go take classes, sign up for a MOOC or learn something new on Coursera or Khan Academy.
Self-learning is great way to help catapult you into a new career, enhance your professional credentials, or hone your skills. No matter how you look at it, employers will be impressed that you didn’t let the moss grow! And, if there ever was a time while working you wish you had a certain educational training for your career, this could be a great time to make it a reality.
5 ) Number of Volunteer Hours Per Month
Volunteering provides exceptional opportunities to network, learn new skills, become a known quantity within an organization and even find out about industry or company job openings before they are even posted.
Plus, you’ll feel good while doing it!
6 ) Number of Member Organizations To Join
If you have a target industry, chances are there is a related trade association or membership organization you can join. Joining and actively participating in these organizations adds to your professional credentials and look good on your resume.
Take this a bit further and volunteer for a committee, hold an officer position, attend educational sessions, gain industry certifications, and network to meet other people. You never know where this might take you!
7 ) Number of Informational Interviews Each Week
Part of the ‘getting out of the house’ aspect of this job search plan is to meet people… and one-on-one in informational interviews are a great way to do just that.
Tap into your network, and see if your friends and colleagues can connect you to people they know. Accept the intro and ask that person to coffee, or a Skype call. Ask open-ended questions, like, “What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in the past five years in this position?” “What were some of the steps you’ve taken in your career?”
The best part about informational interviews? When you treat the person right who took the time to meet with you, they can become a great internal advocate for you. They might pick up the phone if a position comes open and they think you would be a good fit. Or, conversely, if you develop rapport with them, and a position does come open, they could be a good person to talk to about that position.
8 ) Number of Friends to Talk With Each Week
Who do friends know? People. Employed people.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your entire network, including the people in the farthest reaches; maybe that close friend that dropped off a few years ago. The key is to tap into your social circle and ‘refresh’ your connections. You never know what might happen.
9 ) Number of Follow Ups On Sent Applications
One of the biggest failures of job seekers: they are constantly looking forward for the next job opening to apply for… yet they don’t go back and follow up on the positions for which they’ve already applied.
Start a separate job search diary, where you create a spreadsheet to track the positions you applied for, when the closing date was, the company name, any contact information and when you sent in your application. Wait about one week after the closing date, or one day after the next promised communication, then call the employer to politely follow up.
Sometimes, the position opening didn’t turn out to be the right fit for your skills. But if you treat the hiring manager or the human resource representative right, you could impress them in a very good way. That could put you on the “A” list for other jobs that come open.
This seems like a whole lot of work. And it is.
But the goal is to provide structure, stability and goals to you in a time where there is a lot of chaos, unclear objectives and confusion. By structuring yourself and your time while unemployed, this “by the numbers” approach to your summer job search will give you the sense of purpose you need – and provide a boost to you as you feel more productive and accountable!
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Pathfinder Writing and Career Services!
About the Author: Dawn Rasmussen, CMP, is the president of Pathfinder Writing and Career Services, where she provides results-oriented résumé, cover letter, and job search coaching services. She is the official “Get the Job” columnist for One+ Magazine distributed to over 26,000 meeting professionals worldwide, and Talentzoo.com, a job resource site for creative and marketing professionals. Dawn is also a recognized career expert on Careerealism.com – a top 10 world-ranked career advice blog – and a regular contributor to TalentCulture.com’s weekly meeting #tchat on Twitter. Follow Dawn on Twitter!