Job search it’s a full time job it’s a mantra we’ve heard many times. If a full-time job is 40 hours or even 35 hours a week, does that mean that job seekers have to spend that much time searching? What is the return on investment spent so much time? Is the search done properly or is it poor time management?
All of these questions arise for people involved in career development, including job seekers. I am currently conducting survey which asks the question, “How many hours a week should be devoted to job hunting?” Most voters lean toward fewer hours.
Thirty-two (32) percent of participants voted for 0-10 hours per week, and 32% chose 10-20 hours per week. Other options: 20-30 hours per week (18%) and 30-40 plus hours per week (18%). I voiced 20-30 hours a week. I doubt that I will win this vote.
So that means job hunting existence‘t full-time, according to 64% of voters.
Some of my colleagues refuse to vote because there are too many variables, and I understand that. What is a job search, one of them asked? Does networking count? I answered with a resounding yes. What about research, one asked? Of course, research matters.
The reason I asked this question is to answer another question: How should a job seeker balance their search and life? It sounds like achieving work-life balance, and it is. Job hunting is… work.
Let’s divide the job search into two areas: job search and life. Both are obviously important.
Finding a job takes a long time
As people who work and are successful in what they do, searchers are more productive when their search is focused and planned. It’s helpful to break down activities related to your job search, pick a few to prioritize, and stick to them.
Let’s take a look at some common job search steps. I have listed them in order of my personal priorities:
- Personal interaction in your community and small groups.
- Networking at official events.
- Online networking via Zoom and other video formats.
- Writing suitable letters to companies of interest.
- Contacting recruiters or staffing agencies.
- A call to graduates.
- Using job boards.
Your list of priorities may differ from mine, and that’s okay. I consider job hunting more active. I advise job seekers to choose four or maybe five of these activities, as trying to achieve more will spread the word.
Other time-consuming but valuable activities include:
- Writing a resume template and then adapting it to each job.
- Getting LinkedIn, writing a profile, developing a network, engaging with their network.
- Research each position and company before writing your resume and preparing for the interview.
- Information meetings.
These are just some of the steps you need to take to successfully find a job. Many of them take longer than you might think. For example, when setting up networks, you should calculate travel time and an hour and a half for the event.
Resumes continue to be updated, as do cover letters. This can take up to two hours per document. Serious job seekers will spend at least two hours researching each position. Multiply that by five apps. We are already seeing the number of hours per week increase; therefore, my estimates are 20-30 hours per week.
my precious bond Laura Smith-Proulxworks with senior level job seekers and has a different take on the matter:
“I tend to fall into the 10-hour camp because the job seekers I serve are executives who are in the midst of a confidential search. They typically increase their use of LinkedIn, decide how open they can be with their teams or boards of directors, deal with mergers and acquisitions that prompt their departure, respond to a key executive search (internal or external), and/or work within an established network.
“These activities complement a demanding leadership role, family responsibilities, and other demands that don’t stop with the job search.
“However, an unemployed mid-level professional would likely spend more time sifting through job postings, making new connections with recruiters, building a list of ideal employers, and deciding how to identify and develop relationships with those companies’ recruiting agencies.“
Another valuable link, Tigan Bartasagree with me to a certain extent:
“This answer is completely up to the job seeker, but if you forced me to choose an answer for unemployed [they] would be in the 20-30 hour high ROI job seeker camp early on and then taper off when resumes, LinkedIn, scripts, etc.“
And what about life?
Employees who are lucky enough to have work-life balance aren’t tied to their desks or in the field. They have time to watch their children’s events, go to movies and dinner, hikes and walks, actually relax during the holidays, etc. Why should it be any different for job seekers?
If you’re looking for a job, you’re already exhausted. Money worries and feelings of failure can creep into your mind. You may fear what the future holds, especially if there is an obstacle to employment.
Your first instinct after losing your job may be to lick your wounds and take some time off. I pray for no more than a week. I also advise you to accept structured vacation. For example, you get up every morning at the same time as when you work. You take a morning walk or visit the gym. You will need some time to think. Soon you will be seriously looking for a job.
My concern with job seekers is the tendency to burn out. Six hours a day, seven days a week behind a computer is some job seekers’ idea of a productive job search.
I had a client who admitted to me that he was easily spending 60 hours a week looking for work. When I told him to take time off, he sullenly told me he needed to find a job. His marriage was ruined, as was his health.
To some, like my client, taking a break from the job search may seem frivolous. They feel it is counterproductive or that they don’t deserve it. But rest is productive; it is necessary to succeed in the marathon called job hunting.
The feeling of well-being cannot be overlooked. Perhaps unemployment calls for more focus on wellness and less focus on spending unproductive time in front of the computer looking for jobs on Indeed.com, Monster.com, and (my dear) LinkedIn.
If trying to enjoy life’s pleasures while looking for work is out of your reach, I suggest seeking therapy. Many people do. This is not unusual and my clients say it is completely normal. If things go wrong, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.
What about availability of time? Another valuable link, Shelly Piedmontmakes a solid point:
“For some, they can only do 5-10. Others can afford the luxury of more time and can do 20-30. I always advise people to do the best they can for their particular circumstances. But it’s important to remember that more time doesn’t always mean better. Use your time sparingly, whatever it is.”
The last word?
Alison Doyle writes careers advice for The Balance Careers. Back in June 2020, she suggested that the ideal number of hours to look for a job should be 25, taking into account other factors that may be involved. U articleshe wrote:
“It would be easy to say that job hunting should be a full-time job, but realistically speaking, 40 hours a week of job hunting is more than most people can handle.
“You don’t want to burn out and not accomplish anything productive.
“A CareerBuilder survey reports that, on average, job seekers spend 11 hours per week searching for a job. If you spend more time, you will be ahead of the competition.
“A reasonable schedule would be 25 hours per week for those not working a job or internship. For those who work, 15 hours a week will be a more realistic time.”
Alison Doyle has the last word. Or do the people who voted 10-20 hours a week have the final say? Am I the last word? (I really hope not.) As I said at the beginning of this post, it depends.