How to find time to job hunt when you are in a full-time job

Estimated reading time: 7 mins

You’ve no time to find your next job, because your time is absorbed by your current one…

If you’re reading this post, then I am guessing you are suffering from frustration about this, right? I get loads of emails about this problem. It’s a common problem because we are all busy and our time is paid for by our current employers. Our email and web traffic are monitored so we can’t easily do job searches in break times or over lunch. Big Brother is watching!

How badly do you want another job?

Just how unsustainable is your current job for you? How much do you hate it? I have to ask because it is an important question about motivation. You see there are two types of people who want another job:

  1. People who really, REALLY want another job because their current job impacts their lives too negatively. They hate the commute; they dislike their coworkers; they don’t get paid enough; they can’t be authentic. These people are unfulfilled and not living their values. Their income is unsustainable.
  2. People who are venting – not suggesting you are one of these but I do hear some people say they want another job when they really mean I have issues today or I am pissed off today so I am going to blame it all on my job.

Nobody can create more than 24 hours in a day. We all are limited to that. What each of us chooses to spend that time on is down to us. So ask yourself, “Am I serious enough about finding another job that I will sacrifice other things in my life to achieve it?

If you answer to that question is NO – then you are in the second type of person from above, so I suggest you start screaming and shouting at something to get it our of your system.

If you answered YES – then read on.

So now is the time to look at what you choose to spend your time on and figure out how to use time more effectively in your job search. You have to give up something(s), or change something(s). I have some suggestions for you below – but what’s important is that you claw back some time and put it to good use, and have a means of managing your job search so that even small slices of time yield great results.

Let’s steal some time back from your schedule…

You need to find more time – but you don’t need to find whole days, or even whole hours. Just enough time slots to make progress. 15-30 minutes, even once a day, is a great place to start.

Perhaps the obvious one is less sleep time? Go to bed later, or wake up earlier. If you need a steady sleep pattern, then this might not be a good option for you because the last thing you need is to turn up to an interview bleary-eyed an incomprehensible due to tiredness! No way! I wouldn’t start here.

Then think about how you spend your leisure time.

Do you watch a lot of TV? How much? Even one hour each night is seven hours across a week! This might be the place to start. Even taking a half-hour from your TV watching schedule will free up enough time for your job search. If you use a Tivo or similar, then this isn’t a problem.

Are you a frequent visitor to a bar for ‘beverages’? Then there is another candidate to free up time. Have one less beverage, or two. You’ll soon grab enough time back and your head might be in better shape in the morning too 😉

Need more time? Than think about the time you spend on the bus, or other public transport. You might have 2 x 30min slots every day, without realizing it!

OK – one more suggestion – and don’t blush. You’re probably seated in a restroom, at least once a day. Your ablutions are dead time, unless you use it differently. I am not mandating that you take a laptop into the bathroom, or anything that could get moisture damaged. But are you telling me that you don’t check out your emails, Facebook or Tinder in there… eh?

Location, Location, Location

It’s also important to think about where you will spend your time. As I said, Big Brother is watching at your workplace, so you might not want to use company time, property or bandwidth to find your next job. You’ll need access to the internet! Mobile phones are handy devices for phone calls, apps and browsing but not great for looking at loads of information, so you will probably need a tablet or access to a computer/laptop.

You have the time!!!

Even freeing up some time, here and there, isn’t going to help unless you get organized around your job search. You’re going to need a way of tracking what you’ve done, and what needs to be done, so that those odd 15 minute slots of time are useful. Otherwise, you’ll repeat stuff and avoid starting stuff because you haven’t enough time to finish it (or at least that’s the excuse you will give yourself!)

Probably the easiest way of getting organized is to start with a blank spreadsheet (i.e. Excel). You’ll use this to track what you’ve done. Now I expect that you’ve probably already thought about this, but it’s helpful to look at your job search as a process. In other words:

  1. You find a job ad or company you wish to work for
  2. You research the role and company
  3. You decide if it is for you, and how much you want it
  4. You request an application form if required
  5. You read the application form submission requirements
  6. You complete the form, in 2 or 3 goes
  7. You proof-read your submission
  8. You ask a friend or family-member to review your submission (optional)
  9. You submit your application
  10. You follow up

You might even want to track your activity right through the interview – that’s up to you.

But do you get the picture? There are several steps, broken into bite-size chunks, most of which you can do in 15-30 minutes time-slots. In your spreadsheet, I advise that you put these activities horizontally (i.e. at the top row). Then, put the individual vacancies or companies as new rows, starting with the company or vacancy on the left. In each cell for that row, you can record if you have started, or completed an activity.

It should look something like this:

Company / Vacancy Research Priority App form Read app Complete app Proof-read Review Submit Follow-Up
Google Done Ultra Done Done Done Done Started
Chase Bank Done Med Started
BoNY Done High Done Done Not started
Walmart Done Rejected

Now you can begin to use the time you’ve acquired from your schedule!

You might have a different process…

… and of course that is OK. Keep the breakdown of the activities you will perform so that you can get each done in 15-30 minute slots, and this method will still work!

Different process, or not, the thing is to try it. You might find that some activities take longer than the smaller time-slots you’ve found, so push these back to when you have the time. If, however, these bigger tasks are causing a log-jam then you may want to look at breaking them down further into smaller tasks.

Prioritise the best opportunities first

Like any project or scheme of work, not all objectives are of the same priority. In the above example, I have prioritized the Google gig above the others because of (higher pay/short commute/better prospects). So I would pick that one up first as the highest priority, when it comes to picking an activity in my next time-slot.

Some tasks are dependent on other people completing them – in this example the Google application is stalled because I have asked my Dad to review the application. So I would pick up the BoNY (Bank of New York) application first as it’s the next priority.

Give it a go, and tell me how it works for you

I’d love to hear back how this works for you. Please leave a comment when you can.

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