Job Search Productivity Hacks for Busy Job Hunters

Whether you are a soon-to-graduate student trying to fit it in around a busy schedule of classes and exams or a seasoned professional with the demands of your family and current full-time job taking precedence, finding a new job can be daunting. Or, to be more precise, finding the TIME to find a new job can seem daunting.

No matter how you cut it, an effective job search will require your time and attention. As the old saying goes, you need to make finding a job your job. But, if it is time for you to move on to a new job, there is no way around it. You will have to make making time for job searching a priority. Still, the more efficient and productive you can be in your search, the faster you will land a new job and the less disruptive the process will be on the other priorities in your life.

Here then, are some job search productivity hacks.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

7 Job Search Productivity Hacks InfographicWhile you might resist investing in professional help with your resume and other job search materials, in almost all cases, this is an investment that will pay off many times over. Think it through. Imagine that you have identified ten job opportunities that are just perfect for you.

Scenario 1:

Eager to apply, you immediately prepare to submit your self-written resume for all the openings. You know it isn’t a great resume, but you tell yourself it is better than nothing. Before submitting your resume, you spend an hour struggling to write cover letters for each opening, but finally you give up. After all, you’ve heard cover letters are almost never read anyhow, so what’s the point? So you submit your resume alone. Then you wait, and wait, and wait. Maybe you get a phone screening call for one or two of the opportunities, but the recruiter on the other end of the phone doesn’t really understand how your experience lines up with what they are looking for. Then nothing. You don’t even get a confirmation for some of them. You don’t get it! Your qualifications were perfect for all of these. But now you have wasted a few weeks for nothing, and it is time to start over again.

Scenario 2:

You engage the services of a professional resume writing firm like Distinctive Career Services. You show the resume consultant the ten opportunities that you are interested in. The writer helps you craft a standout resume that is designed to call out all the ways in which you are perfectly qualified for jobs such as these. The resume isn’t just powerfully worded and visually attractive, the resume writer has also structured and designed your resume to be ATS compatible, so it will be entered properly into the applicant tracking systems. You also ask the resume writer to help you with a cover letter. When your documents are done, the resume writer shows you how to quickly and easily customize your resume and letter for each individual opportunity. As a result, you receive screen calls for eight of the ten opportunities, four of them turn into in-person interviews, and before you know it, you have two job offers to choose from, each for a position that you would love.

Results can never be guaranteed. There are way too many variables in a job search, But almost always, a standout, properly focused resume and customized cover letter for individual opportunities can increase your productivity and shorten your job search significantly.

Not All Job Search Techniques Are Equal

There is so much to do! And it can be overwhelming. Without some type of structure or plan, you may find yourself frantically jumping from task to task, using up every moment you have available yet not really accomplishing anything. Sure, you are busy, but busy doesn’t necessarily mean you are being productive and it certainly doesn’t equate to results—in this case a new job. The trick is to prioritize your activities and use your time to focus on those activities most likely to produce results.

It is worth investing a few hours into learning about job search techniques and which are likely to be the most effective in your job search. This way you can prioritize your time to focus on the techniques most likely to yield positive results. For example, responding to advertised openings is widely known to be the least effective job search technique (although there are simple things you can do to improve your effectiveness when applying for advertised openings) while networking is often considered the most effective job search technique. Knowing this you can plan and prioritize your job search time to maximize your productivity.

Work In Short Bursts

Called the Pomodoro technique, the concept of working in short bursts followed by a break then another short burst of work, is a job search productivity hack that can be especially helpful if you find yourself easily distracted.

You can use a timer on your phone, computer, or even a simple kitchen timer. The most common timing is to set it for 20-25 minutes. This is the length of time you focus on whatever job search task you are trying to accomplish. When the timer goes off, you stop working and take a break for 5 minutes. When the break is over, you restart the timer and begin working again. After four repetitions you take a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes. Keep repeating this cycle until you’ve reached the end of your work time for that day.

When you work in short bursts, you can plan what you intend to do with each of your bursts. Planning these short bursts makes it easier to decide what to do because you can only fit so much work into one burst. It naturally focuses you on the essentials.

Another advantage to this job search productivity hack is that some research shows that the human mind can only focus at its maximum for about 20 minutes at a time. This means that you are fighting your mind when you attempt to focus for longer periods. When you take frequent breaks from your job search work, your mind will get the rest it needs between tasks. Thus, every time you start a new burst of job search activity, you will be starting with a refreshed mind that can stay focused for the entire task.

Plan for Tomorrow Today

If you want to maximize your job search productivity and increase the amount you get in your limited time each day, organize for tomorrow, today. The moment you sit down to begin your job search tasks for the day, you will have clarity and be certain about what you have to do that day.

It’s much more effective than trying to plan your job search tasks on the fly!

To be most effective, choose one day per week (perhaps Sunday evening) when you will sit down to plan and organize for the upcoming week. Then, each evening, check in with yourself and evaluate your day while planning your most important job-search tasks for the next. Use what you learned to improve your planning process.

Make the most important decisions about your tomorrow the night before. The day is for executing, not deciding. Save your decision-making time for the evening when you can be more objective and thoughtful.

The best time to plan tomorrow is today!

Eat That Frog

Get it out of the way. “Eat that frog” as Mark Twain put it. A really effective job search productivity hack is to pick the most important and maybe even the most dreaded job search tasks first and knock them out before you tackle anything else that day, or even better, in your first Pomodoro work burst. It’s such a relief once you finish them, and then the rest of your day can be devoted to other, less onerous job search tasks without the dreaded one looming over you.

To achieve maximum productivity in your job search, time management is an art worth perfecting. The five job search productivity hacks in this article will help, but don’t forget to regularly check in with yourself (and the clock), and make sure you’re really optimizing the hours you get in the day.

Living life by the seat of your pants might be exciting, but it’s not the most productive way to live and it is certainly not the best way to find a new job. Make a good job search plan and then follow it to the best of your ability. Your productivity will soar and before you know it you will land the new job you want!

About the Author: Michelle Dumas

Michelle Dumas is the founder and CEO of Distinctive Career Services, one of the internet's longest-standing and most respected professional resume writing firms. Michelle is a 6X certified and 7X award-winning resume writer and career consultant. To learn more about the services offered by Distinctive Career Services visit

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