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Six tips for spending the perfect amount of time on your job search

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The job search can be stressful. It's important to gauge whether you can do more or if you're pushing yourself too hard.

How much time should you spend searching for a job? Well, that depends. As simple a process as this sounds, there are variables depending on which financial sector you work in, your level of seniority and whether you’re on the market or gainfully employed. Here’s how to tell how you’re spending too much, or too little, time on searching for a new role.

1. You are on the verge of burning out

Just like working insane hours in the office or on the road can lead to burnout, it is possible to push yourself too hard looking for a new position – even if you’re out of a job. You don’t want to come off as desperate or exhausted, whether you’re communicating with recruiters or hiring managers via email, phone or in person.

“If you are out of a job, then it is more about balancing self-care with finding a job as soon as possible,” said Kim Ann Curtin, executive coach and the author of Transforming Wall Street. “The trouble is, you’re in a panic emotionally, but you don’t want to go into an interview with that energy, thinking ‘Oh my God, I have to find something, anything!’”

2. You can’t switch off 

Curtin once conducted a mock interview with a client who had recently been fired from a Wall Street bank.

“He spoke to things that had nothing to do with what employers are looking for, because he didn’t finish grieving or processing all of the emotions he should have,” Curtin said. “It’s important to use some time for yourself for personal development to process all of the emotions you’ve gone through so you can be fresh and clear-headed.

“The job search is a full time job, but try to intersperse job-search activities with things that are pleasant, like going to a movie with friends,” she said. “The energy drain of going on job interviews is exhausting, so take time to recharge your batteries.”

3. You’re missing out on the action 

There are a few common signs that you need to increase your sense of urgency and spend more time on your job search, especially if there are M&A rumors involving your employer, if the firm is currently in the process of restructuring or if you’re currently unemployed.

“You’re spending too little time if you don’t have a complete social media profile, you’re not getting out there and proactively meeting people for drinks or coffee, you’re not attending events or you’re not coming up with a list of target companies you’d like to work for and people to network with,” said Alyssa Gelbard, the founder and president of Resume Strategists.

4. Your current job is suffering 

If you’re employed, then you can’t let your job search affect your professional performance negatively, at least until you have an offer on the table. It’s always better to go out on your terms whenever possible rather than having putting 100% of your efforts into your job search, potentially causing you to get fired.

“If your work is suffering and you’re tired all the time, or you can’t track all of the resumes you’ve sent out because there have been so many, then you might be [pushing yourself too hard],” Gelbard said. “If you go overboard on meeting people for drinks or coffee or attending events, maybe you’re not being selective enough.

5. You’re sprinting, and expecting too much

If you are currently employed, then you have a limited amount of time and energy, so use those resources wisely.

“If you have a job, then it is appropriate to think of the job search as a long-tail process – a marathon as opposed to a sprint,” Curtin said. “I recommend that you put some kind of boundaries around how and when you look for a new job.

“Financial services professionals do it intensely, then realize they can’t keep up that pace, and they don’t go the distance, because they get bored or tired,” she said. “When you don’t have a deadline for a big project, work on your job search, even if it’s just setting aside 15-minute windows for networking.”

6. You’re not meeting people 

It’s important to find consistency and integrate the job search into your daily routine. And don’t overlook the impact that face-to-face networking can have.

“If you do that a certain amount of time daily every single week, it will pay off,” Curtin said. “I’m a big believer in maintaining relationships with people – networking is transactional, but take out people you haven’t seen in a long time out for lunch or meet them for coffee, which qualifies as putting yourself out there for other professional opportunities.”


Photo credit: Adie Bush/GettyImages

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