The Job Search System That Never Fails

  • Article by: KEVIN DONLIN , Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • Updated: May 18, 2009 - 12:02 PM

It's been said that the best new ideas are the best old ideas.

In other words, there's no need to reinvent the wheel in your job search if others before you have found ways to succeed.

What if I told you there was a success “system,” invented by Benjamin Franklin in the 1730s that helped create millionaires in the 1930s when unemployment stood at 25%?

Do you think it might help you find a job faster today with unemployment at less than 9%?

If you're interested, I’ll describe this system, which can make sure you stay on track and do more of the right things each day, getting you hired faster for the job you want.

You'll need two items: a small notebook and a pencil. An Excel spreadsheet is a very helpful third component, but don't let the lack of one stop you from getting started.

What are you going to do?

Track, analyze, and improve how you spend your time every working day.

Because your time is your life. Do the right things with your time, and you'll get the right results in your life. In your case, the result you seek is a new job.

Here are the 5 simple steps to this ingenious system ...

1) Carry a small pocket notebook around from the time you wake up until you stop your job-search efforts in the evening.

2) Record how you spend your time in increments of 5 minutes. Examples:

6:00-6:25           Wake, exercise
6:25-6:45           Breakfast
6:45-7:00           Shower
7:00-7:30           Watch TV news
7:30-8:10           Answer emails
8:10-9:30           Search online for job listings

3) Each evening, add up the minutes you spent on each activity and organize them into three categories: Productive, Personal, and Wasted.

Productive time is anything that produces job leads. Examples: calling friends to network, meeting other job seekers to help each other, interviewing employees of your target employer to learn about the corporate culture, etc.

Personal time is anything spent on yourself and not your job search. Examples: eating, running errands, exercise breaks, etc.

Wasted time is anything that served no useful purpose. Examples: checking sports scores, idle chatter, checking email every 15 minutes, etc.

Add up your time in these three areas on a sheet of paper or use an Excel spreadsheet.

4) At the end of the week, analyze your efforts. Here’s where you’ll get insights that can change your life.

Example: When I first tracked my time, I found I had spent 360 minutes in one week reading and answering email. That works out to 24 hours -- one full day of life -- every month pecking away at email. Unacceptable.

So I resolved to check email only twice a day. And I easily cut that time down to 240 minutes, saving two hours a week and 8 hours per month. Better.

But I never would have known where I was wasting time had I not tracked each day in detail.

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