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A day in the life of a job seeker

Justin Thompson, CareerBuilder Writer

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"Looking for a job is a full-time job." It's a phrase we've all heard, and, for the most part, it's true. Searching for a job that you like, going on interviews, waiting for the call back. It's some of the most emotionally draining and time-consuming work you'll have to do.

One of the most important things one can do while hunting for a new job is to set a schedule and stick with it. For those who are employed in a job that they hate, it can be frustrating to go home and then spend more time trying to find a new job. All you do is go to work and then go home to do more work. But those without a job can find it even more frustrating, because of the endless time spent waiting -- and the diminishing bank balance.

So we asked job seekers for their tips on how they've dealt with the job search and what they've done to provide structure to their day. Here's what they had to say:

  • The early bird gets the worm: Don't waste your days sleeping. Get up early and set "office hours." By acting as if you're going to work, you're actually getting into a mindset that will put you on task.

  • Set the scene: Be sure to remove yourself from all distractions when doing your job search. It's one thing to go to a coffee shop to do your research, but when you start to write your cover letters and résumés, you need to concentrate on the task at hand. Don't be afraid to write in the morning and then revise in the afternoon -- give yourself some time to edit and craft the messages you're sending to potential employers.

  • Get specific: The "scattershot" method of applying for anything and everything usually leaves no one feeling good. Be specific about what kind of job you are looking for, what areas you want to focus on, what skills you have and what skills you want to develop in a new job. Learn about companies in your area that have these jobs, see what opportunities they may have, and connect with recruiters or experts in the field through resources such as LinkedIn.

  • Follow up: For many job seekers, the concern is the résumé black hole. Because employers receive so many applications for each job opening, it helps to set follow-up calendar reminders so you know when to reach out to a company you've applied to if you haven't heard back. That way, you'll know where they are in the process or if the position was filled.

  • Set output goals: How many résumés do you want to send out per week? Make a number and stick to it, but be realistic. Don't say 250, because you will only make yourself miserable. Focus on a manageable goal.

  • Practice your introduction/elevator pitch: It's always important to sell your skills and your desired career opportunity in under a minute. Instead of focusing on day-to-day abilities, think big picture and sell your value.

  • Research: If you spend more time doing homework on companies you want to work for, you'll spend less time applying for jobs in which you may not have a real interest. Remember that a job description only tells you so much. Your job could be perfect, but the company's values could be in direct opposition to your personal values. Get to know the company via social media and through its corporate website.

  • Don't sabotage yourself: If you're employed and want out of your current situation, don't look for jobs while at your job. That's asking for trouble, and a pink slip is likely to follow. You'll have to make time outside of your job to dedicate to your job search. If you're unemployed, don't sell yourself short in a cover letter by telling your entire story, because employers don't care. Again, sell your value upfront, and the details can be filled in during the interview process if needed. Also, if you're unemployed and searching for a job, make sure that your family respects your time to do so.

  • Use every tool: Use all the assets at your disposal -- job boards, social media, recruiters, aggregators, etc. Diversifying your search method will help produce diverse results. Think beyond your traditional job-search methods and challenge yourself to find new ways to connect with employers or other job seekers.

  • Keep your humor: Looking for a job is tiresome and can be truly depressing, but don't let it get the best of you. Remember that you are defined by more than your job or career, and while you want to be a productive member of society, your job isn't the only way to do so. Get out and see family and friends, try to stay active by exercising and eating healthfully, and keep your frustration and negativity to a minimum -- especially in social media. By having a positive attitude, you're more easily able to broach the sensitive topic with others who are employed and could help you in your job search.

Justin Thompson is a writer and blogger for and its job blog, The Work Buzz. He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.

Last Updated: 31/01/2012 - 5:38 PM

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