9 Tips to boost your job search productivity

9 Tips to Boost your Job Search Productivity

Finding a new job can be long and demanding process. It is hard to stay focused on your job search. There are many distractions, on your computer, on your phone or in your home environment that can cause you to waste your precious time. Having to deal with being rejected for a job application be also be very demotivating. Fortunately there are some great hacks to keep you going and boost your job search productivity.

1. Create a job search strategy plan

There are several stages you go through when you are job hunting. You have to search for opportunities, you have to apply, you have to do a job interview, you have to negotiate and you get hired. Unfortunately most people don’t succeed at the first attempt. In one of the stages they fail or get rejected. We all want to be successful in our first attempt. But after getting rejected a couple of times, it is smart to bring some direction and structure into your job search.

If you want to optimize your job search you should create a plan that elaborates each stage of the job search process. There are several topics you can include in your job search strategy. You can include what kind of job that you are looking for, which companies you would love to work for, in which area / region do you search, where to look for job opportunities, which ways of applying for a job are available (email, LinkedIn, unsolicited application, using your network) and how to prepare for job interviews.

Analyzing and planning your job search strategy will give you a well-structured framework that will guide you even in times when you feel demotivated by a rejection. A job search strategy and plan can point you to new opportunities and new ways of applying for a job. It will also create more awareness about your own strengths and weaknesses. A good job search plan should be a dynamic document, it should be adapted whenever new information is available. 

2. Organize your job search

In order to have a good overview of your job search efforts it is important to keep track of all your job applications and your progress. Creating a spreadsheet in which you keep track of your planning, your to do’s and all your job applications can provide such an overview. It may sound a bit over top, we all wish to get hired at the first attempt. But after a couple of unsuccessful job applications it can be easy to lose oversight of your job search efforts and you might want to consider organizing your job search. Writing it all down in a spreadsheet will give you a clear overview of what you have done, what you still need to do and what you have to follow up on. You can integrate your job search strategy and job search plan in this spreadsheet. Schedule a couple of minutes of your time every date to update your progress in your spreadsheet. Keeping track of your efforts not only gives you a clear overview of what you have done and what you still need to do, it can also motivate you to keep going. Keeping track of your efforts can even help you to build new habits.

3. Build new habits

After some time of job searching without any positive results, it is easy to get demotivated. You have put in all this effort without any satisfying result. When you are demotivated it is difficult to get yourself to do the necessary work. You cannot rely on your motivation to continue your job search. To keep going you have make a habit out of job searching. Creating a spread sheet (see tip number 2) can help you to organize all the job search to do’s. Creating new habits is not easy, especially when you don’t see any direct results of your efforts. The best way to build new habits is to make small changes, when you completely change your life from one day to another it is difficult persist. Making small step-by-step changes will help you create solid new habits. Just like building good habits it is important to get rid of bad habits. Are you wasting your time on irrelevant websites, looking at memes or watching cat videos? Start breaking these bad habits into little pieces and get rid of them one by one. If you want to know more about building habit, we recommend to read the book Atomic Habits by James Clear.

4. Block distractions

A large part of job searching has to be done on a computer and specifically on the internet. The internet also happens to be one of the biggest distractions. It is tempting to check your social media for “just a minute”, or to quickly check out this “one” YouTube video. These distractions are all around, not just on your computer. Everybody has a mobile phone or a tablet nearby on which we can disappear in the rabbit hole of browsing social media, memes and videos. Before you know it you are wasting valuable time. Even just a short distraction can make you lose your focus. Study has shown that on average it takes more than 23 minutes to get focused again at your task, even after just a short distraction. Like already mentioned in the previous tip, it is important to get rid of these unproductive bad habits. The best way to start this is to block these distractions. There are apps you can install on your computer or phone that can help you to block these distraction for a certain time of the day.

Freedom (for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Chrome)

Cold Turkey (for Windows and Mac)

Leech Block (for Firefox, Opera, Chrome, Edge)

But not all distractions come from your computer or phone. It can also come from family, friends or from the environment you are working in. Try to make agreements with your partner or friends to schedule undistracted time for your job search. Create a place where you can work undistracted. Turn off your phone and block distracting websites from your computer.

5. Evaluate and adapt

Being productive is not just working to thick off your to do list. Every now and then you have to schedule time to evaluate your progress and make changes to your strategy or your planning when necessary. Taking time to evaluate can help you to improve your process. Evaluate each stage of your job search. What aspects of your job search are going well and which need improvements? Is your Resume still up-to-date, do you need to emphasize on other experience or skills on your Resume or Cover Letter? Do you need to improve you job interview skills or your negotiating skills?  You might thing that evaluating and adapting is not directly helping you to get a job, but it can actually help you to prevent you from wasting your time on ineffective methods.

6. Leverage your network

Improving your productivity is mainly something you have to do on your own. However, using the help of others can leverage your efforts. Your private and professional network can boost your productivity in every stage of your job search. You can use your network to help you find job openings or you can use your network to introduce you to recruiters or hiring manager. Most recruiters and hiring managers admit that they prefer to hire a candidate that was recommended by someone they trust. Your network can help you to get information about job opportunities even before the job advertisements get published. You can activate your network by using network sites like LinkedIn, or even better, you can contact people inside your network personally. Before you start calling people it is important to map your network first. Your network can even get you into contact with your dream company. The idea of Six degrees of Separation is that all people on average are just six (or fewer) connections away from any other person in the world. This idea just shows how powerful it can be to use your network for your job search.

7. Block time to find new sources

Just like you have to block time in your job search schedule to evaluate and to adapt your strategy and your job search process. You have to block time to look for new opportunities for your job search. With new opportunities we do not mean new job opportunities. Schedule time to check out new job search websites or apps that can help you with your job search. Take some time to watch online videos about job search best practices. Once you get started with the execution of your job search plan you focus on the channels you have chosen to find job openings. It is easy to lose sight of new opportunities and new ideas. Scheduling time for this search also avoids the opposite; spending too much time browsing the internet for relevant websites or watching too many videos about job application best practices.  

8. Adapt your Resume for every job application

Job hunting is not a matter of mass production, each job application has to be tailor made. You cannot just send out the same Resume with the same cover letter to all your job applications. Sending out ten job applications a day might seem like a productive way of doing your job applications, but the problem is that most of those job applications will miss the focus that is needed to be successful. Every company is different, every job description is different and therefore every job application has to be adapted. You can have a basic version of your Resume and Cover letter, but always look out for keywords that you can use on your Resume or in your Cover Letter to fine tune your job application. Within your job application you should show, not only that are suitable to do the job, but also that you have a genuine interest to work for the company. Read the job description and look for the keywords they use to describe the job opening and how they describe their ideal candidate. Check their website to find their tone of voice. These are all aspects that can be used in your Resume and Cover Letter. Using these aspects will spark recognition with the recruiters and hiring managers and will get your job application noticed.

9. Build you Resume and your network

If you have been job hunting for a long time without any good results, it can feel like you have tried everything and there is no way to optimize anymore. If you think that you have optimized every aspect of your job application, you can always start to work on strengthening your resume or your network. There are plenty of websites that offer online courses which you can use to strengthen your Resume. Determine what you would need to strengthen your resume. To do this you can check the job descriptions in your work field, look for skills that are often required that you feel you could improve. Following courses will show recruiters that you are continuously trying to improve yourself and your skills. You can do the same with your network. As discussed in tip number 6, you can use your network to leverage the range of your job search. Enlarging your networking would immediately enlarge this leverage. You can work on growing your network by visiting network event in your industry and/or participating in (online) discussions in your area of expertise.

Bonus tip: Differentiate yourself from other candidates

In some industries competition can be fierce. Companies and recruiters often receive dozens of job applications for each job opening. When you are competing against many other candidates with similar resumes, it job hunting can start to feel like participating in a lottery. This can be very demotivating and it can prevent you from investing more time to optimize job applications. In a highly competitive job market it is crucial to differentiate yourself from other candidates. There are several ways to do this. You can try to personalize your job application by calling the contact person in advance to get more information. You can also make sure your Resume or Cover Letters stands out from the other candidates. You can create an outstanding but professional looking resume or cover letter. Doing this will not only give your Resume and Cover Letter an appearance that will help you differentiate yourself, it will also show that you take your job application serious and that you are willing to optimize every aspect of your job application to succeed.