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How to plan your job search without getting overwhelmed

plan your job search

Once you’ve made the decision to find a new job, it can be tempting to react in one of two ways.


  1. Quantity over Quality

You may be the type of person who wants to immediately start sending out CVs left right and centre in the hopes of bagging yourself an interview. You’ll apply for anything you could be vaguely qualified for in the hope of escaping your current employment situation. However, this ‘quantity over quality’ job search method can quickly leave you feeling defeated. “People with the highest number of applications are far less likely – 39% less likely – to receive a positive response from employers,” studies have shown. You’re far more likely to have success if you plan your job search and send out a few applications tailored to the role and company.


  1. Overambitious

Perhaps you’re the type of person who likes to be meticulously prepared and ends up trying to do too much. You make lists of all the things you want to achieve – networking, speculative job applications, customising your CV to every role, upskilling with short courses, reading industry blogs and meeting with recruiters. Unsurprisingly, this can also cause you to become overwhelmed as your to-do list (and the amount of pressure you put on yourself) grows.


Here are our suggestions for taking a more balanced and strategic approach to planning your job search.


Give your job search focus

Establish the following things before you send out a single CV:

  1. What kind of role are you looking for? Think about the skills you will need and use, the level of responsibility, the salary, etc.
  2. What kind of company do you want to work for? Think about the work culture, the company values, the location, potential for growth, etc.
  3. What do you want to personally gain from the role? Do you want to earn more, feel more fulfilled, or have a better work/life balance?


When you’re looking for jobs, you can refer to this list to make sure they are really the ones you want to be applying for.


Create a manageable job search schedule

It’s beneficial to have big goals that will benefit your job search, but the key to success is to break these down into smaller, achievable goals and organising them into an easy-to-follow schedule. Here’s an example:


Imagine these are your overall job search goals:

  • Apply for 2-3 jobs a week (and follow up on every application)
  • Update your CV and LinkedIn profile
  • Complete a professional short course to update your skills
  • Join a networking club and attend one event a month
  • Practice interview techniques


If you have 1-2 hours a day free, then your job search schedule could look something like this:


Week One
Monday Update CV
Tuesday Find 3 jobs to apply for
Wednesday Start first job application (research company, tailor CV)
Thursday Finish first job application (write cover letter, send application)
Friday Attend short professional course
Saturday Update LinkedIn profile and join a networking club
Sunday Apply for 1 job (research company, tailor CV, write cover letter using your previous one as a template, hit send)


Week Two
Monday Find 3 jobs to apply for
Tuesday Apply for 1 job
Wednesday Attend your first networking event
Thursday Apply for 1 job
Friday Attend short professional course
Saturday Apply for 1 job
Sunday Follow up on your job applications from Week 1


And so on… Suddenly your overwhelming to-do list has become a manageable schedule of smaller tasks that will be easy to tick off.


Use technology to your advantage

Be a smart job seeker and use the technology you have available to you to make things easier.


Websites and apps such as LinkedIn Jobs, Monster and Indeed allow you to set up searches based on criteria like job title, salary and location and will send you email notifications every time new jobs that fit your specifications get added to the database.


It’s also recommended to use social media to present a good impression of yourself online to potential employers. Read our guide on using social media to boost your career


Keep a record of your job search activities

Keep track of your applications to avoid potentially costly mistakes such as missing deadlines, forgetting to follow up, getting job titles muddled up in interviews or anything else important.


Create a table with the following information:

  • Job title and company name
  • Website where you found the job listing
  • Application deadline
  • Company information
  • Date of your follow-up
  • A progress update for any replies
  • Any important dates like interviews


Good luck!

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