When you are searching for a job, your days will become busy, especially if you have family responsibilities and financial commitments. But by establishing a routine and sticking to it, you can make the most of every day to land that job sooner. Here are some tips on how you can go about your day:
Make lists and schedule your calendars
Some studies have shown that list-making can help you organise your day more efficiently and be more productive, which in turn will improve your mood. Create a list of all the things you need to do — chores, personal engagements and tasks related to job search — like taking your kids to school, buying the week’s groceries, paying your bills, sending out job applications, following up on leads and going to networking events.
List all your daily tasks and start checking them off one by one. There are a number of free task management apps available online, such as Trello and Wunderlist, that help you make and track these lists on your mobile phone, but a handwritten list on a paper will also do. Make sure to allocate time in the day to networking, as well reading general and industry news. Don’t forget to build in time for leisure activities and family outings. Here’s an example of what an ideal day could look like:
6am: Wake up and go for a walk
7am: Freshen up and eat a healthy breakfast with the family
8am: Catch up on the latest industry news and trends
9am: Research companies, tailor your resume and cover letters, and apply for jobs through emails or job portals
12pm: Take a break for lunch, run errands, buy groceries and do household chores
1pm: Follow up on previous job applications
4pm: Go out for networking events and/or any evening classes to upskill yourself
9pm: Write a journal entry. This is useful to reflect on the small achievements of the day for positive affirmation and motivation
10pm: Ensure you get a good night’s sleep to be ready for the next day
Log your expenses
Before you land a new job, you will need to pay attention to your finances. As you start to budget in earnest, categorise and keep track of your expenses, such as the mortgage and school bills, and the unnecessary extras that can be reduced or even cut out completely.
Use a monthly budget-planning template or create a simple spreadsheet of your own and start listing your expected expenses for the month. Include all the little hidden expenses as well, like your EZ-link card top-up amounts and taxi fares for your trips to interviews and networking events, which can amount to a lot in a month if not tracked. For example, here’s one way to simplify your expenses to help figure out which ones to cut down:
Daily expenses: food, transport
Monthly expenses: mortgage, clothing, utilities, phone and internet bills, insurance premiums and entertainment
Long-term expenses: children’s school fees, income tax and unexpected medical expenses
From these, set aside the expenses you cannot compromise on, like your children’s school fees, mortgage and bills. Then set a limit for your daily expenses and work towards staying under this limit every day. The more you find cheaper alternatives, the sooner your daily deficit will accumulate over time to help you stretch your budget for a few more months until you get your next job.
Stay updated on your job search progress
When you are in the job search phase, you could be applying for multiple jobs. Each one of these is likely to involve various stages — offline events like a career fair, online application, interview upon shortlisting, tests and then maybe even a second interview. You also need to remind yourself when it’s time to follow up with each of them. And you most certainly don’t want to send multiple applications to the same company.
Keeping track of all these tasks will keep your hands full so it’s best not to keep this information just in your head. Luckily, there are handy apps like JobHero to organise your job search and even remind you when it’s time to follow up, while the LinkedIn Job Search app keeps you notified when new openings that match your keywords are advertised.
This article is part 2 of Unit 3 of the Career Guide on “Get Ahead of the Crowd”.
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