An Active, Effective Job Search Looks Different Than You Might Think

“Send out 14,562 resumes a week! Make a bazillion new LinkedIn contacts a day! Tweak EVERY cover letter and resume you send out to tailor it to EACH job!”

WHEW!  Job searching is TOUGH, and there’s SO much to do! And there’s AMPLE pressure to DO it all, too, isn’t there? How DO you job search effectively, anyway?

While (I hope obviously) the first two suggestions here are a *wee* bit exaggerated (though the last one I DO strongly recommend!), it sure can feel like these ridiculous and impossible standards are what most people (including some career coaches that preach “Hustle! Go! DO!”) expect of job seekers.

Recently, a job search client was telling me about all the professional networking groups he attends, about an interviewing workshop he was going to, and was quite interested when I mentioned he might like to join Toastmasters.

WOW. All that AND 47,000 custom tailored resumes sent to his newly connected quadrillion LinkedIn contacts??

NO. Too much.

So I commended him for his diligent activities, but, I also immediately encouraged him, as is my tendency, to make sure he relaxed, enjoyed some of his free time while he had it, and basically not to overdo things.

I do this to balance out the messages I believe we usually get from our culture, our own ideas of ‘what people will think’, and guilt coming from ‘not working hard enough’ to find a job.

To my very thoughtful and obviously previously unconsidered suggestion –  even *encouragement* that he, well, SLOW the F* down, he replied:

Yeah, but I need to stay active or I get too down and unmotivated to do anything.”



Well… so, OK, so I’m not wrong, BUT…. in thinking more in depth about his strategy, I could then definitely see wisdom in his approach, too. I was thinking job seekers are under so much pressure, they need SOMEONE to give the ‘permission’ to just relax a little…

But then, I realized that even for myself, having a schedule of regular activities each week helps me organize my own flexible working style, and having some of my time committed to different pursuits does provide more structure and efficiency to the work I do during the rest of my unstructured time.

There are other obvious benefits to keeping busy as well:

  • You meet new people and have more opportunities to network and make business contacts and friends;
  • You might learn new skills that could be added to your resume, or simply add to your quality of life;
  • An activity such as weekly volunteer work or consulting jobs you do independently could also be added to your resume to fill the job gap created during your work search.

So while you are relaxing on the beach, in your hammock out back, or casually watching sitcom reruns on Netflix, find something to get involved in, too:

  • Flip through a community college continuing education catalog for interesting classes;
  • Look through your local Facebook and groups for information on local groups and events in your industry, or even a hobby or area of personal interest such as the Sierra Club or the PTA. Doing things you enjoy  (and maybe don’t do enough of when you’re working a lot!) can really revive your energy and spirits. And, job leads can come from ANYWHERE, not just people or activities directly related to your field.
  • Find somewhere to volunteer in your community a few hours a week, whether or not the work is related to your professional field.  If you can use your professional skills to benefit a local non-profit as a volunteer, that’s what I’d consider a win-win!
  • Consider joining Toastmasters to improve not only your public speaking skills but your overall conversational acumen and confidence.  Presentation skills are always helpful, whether you’re addressing the School Board to advocate for your child, training future co-workers on a new system, or giving a ‘roast’ for your father’s 60th birthday party.

So yes, being active and effective in your job search DOES involve a lot of resume reworking, resume sending, interview practice, and networking. For sure. (maybe not in the quadrillions, but, a LOT indeed…)

But it isn’t JUST about those more obvious tasks. Stay active and engaged in your life and community and the energy you put out there will fuel you for your more formal job search activities – which you now need to find time to fit into your newly busy schedule! Just please make sure at least one of those new activities is *relaxing*!