2.5 Prerequisite 4: Resources
- Understand what things you need and can put in place now to support your job search.
- Identify support systems for your job search.
Physical Resources and Supplies to Launch a Productive Job Search
In a way, the resources you need for your job search can be broken down into three categories:
Time includes not just the time for the six steps of the process (and to work on the fundamentals discussed in this chapter) but also the time away from your current activities. As you add the job search to your calendar, what will you take away?
Space includes the place where you will be doing the work of your job search—computer, phone, desk, a quiet area to focus. Your space must be outfitted with the right equipment but also include fast Internet access, paper, pens, postage and mailing supplies, and other office essentials.
Money is required to outfit your space and for your supplies. In the discussion on professional dress, there may be items listed that you need to purchase. Your job search will require travel to interviews. Networking might entail paying a membership fee to a group or an event fee for a professional mixer. Part of your research strategy might involve taking people to lunch in exchange for information. Many areas of the job search will require a financial investment.
Ideas and Support Systems to Help You Find and Manage Your Time
Finding and managing your time will require trade-offs. A proactive job search takes ten to fifteen hours per week. You will need to take this time from other activities. Before your job search starts, take an inventory of everything that is taking up your time. Create a comprehensive calendar that includes the following:
- Major trips or vacations when you will physically be away
- Critical projects, papers due, or exam weeks when you will be busier than usual
- Regular daily, weekly, or monthly appointments, such as classes, club meetings, or gym workouts
- Job search events that you know about in advance (for many students, include specific deadlines set by your school, such as when you should submit your résumé to the employers coming to campus)
Create a comprehensive activity list that includes necessary but non-time-specific activities:
- Laundry and housework
- Exercise and self-care
- Volunteer work
- Ten to fifteen hours of job search activity, some of which must be done during normal business hours
Look at the unscheduled times and your list of activities. Block out where things might go. Be realistic about when you do your best work. If you have more energy in the morning, reserve that time for your job search activity. If you know you can’t concentrate by end of day, use that time for nonthinking activities, such as housework or exercise.
Well before you start your job search, start moving activities around and make arrangements for your replacement if you need to drop activities. You want to have a schedule in place that supports your job search, not crowds it out.
Ideas and Support Systems to Help You Set Up Your Work Space
Your job search is a project, so you need a comprehensive work space. Stocking up supplies in advance of your search enables you to stay focused and not get derailed by a surprise trip to the store. You also want to prepare in advance for services you may need, such as printing, copying, mailing, and faxing. Know the hours of the closest post office and office supply and service store. Know where you can send and receive faxes and where you can do special copying, binding, or printing.
Here is a checklist of ideas for a comprehensive work space:
- Build a surplus of office essentials, such as paper, pens, mail supplies, staples, and so forth.
- Have a pen and paper by all phones if you share your workspace with others. This way, your cohabitants can easily take messages for you.
- Audit your computer, phone, and Internet access to ensure that your equipment and communication lines are in order. If you have a slow Internet connection, research public access places, such as libraries, and list their availability.
- Create a professional voice mail message for all phones, including your cell phone.
- List post office, office supply, and service store addresses and hours.
- Figure out how to back up computer files, change printer ink, unblock paper jams, and any other minor but critical support services for your equipment. You do not want to be late for a meeting because you were printing a résumé at the last minute and it got stuck in the printer.
- Check for privacy. If your work space is part of your bedroom and you will be making video calls, invest in a folding screen or figure out how to position the webcam to keep your environment looking professional.
- Check for quiet. Your job search will involve a lot of phone calls, including interviews. Plan now for a space where you can be heard, hear well, and concentrate.
- Make it a space that energizes and inspires you. Add pictures, fresh flowers, and so forth.
If you have a very organized friend, enlist his or her help in setting up and decorating your space.
Ideas and Support Systems to Help Manage Your Money
Know your budget for your job search essentials in advance. You can price out the work space items listed previously and the professional dress requirements listed earlier. For job search events you already know about, budget for registration fees and transportation costs. If you want to work with a career coach, factor that into your budget.
Another financial consideration is the opportunity cost of the time spent on your search, as opposed to working. If you have to drop a part-time job to launch your search, there is the cost of lost wages. If you are a student and your job search extends past graduation, there is the cost of supporting yourself while you look. How will you pay for your living expenses? How long can you sustain yourself without a job?
Your financial situation affects the execution and timing of your job search, so you need to decide on these issues prior to your search. If you are relying on family or friends to help with your living expenses, have a candid conversation about both of your expectations before you start your search.
- Your job search requires time, space, and money resources.
- You need to allocate these resources to your search and decide on the trade-offs necessary to spend your time, space, and money on your search, as opposed to other objectives.
- Line up your resources before your job search so that you create an environment that supports your job search.
- Do you have time, space, and money set aside for your job search? Review the sections with suggested activities and actually set up your schedule, audit your workspace, and create a budget.
- In what areas are you underresourced or lacking? Do you need to talk to family members about financial support? Do you need to find the closest office supply and services store? Do you have an unrealistic amount of activities in your current schedule and need to make cuts?
- What specific next steps will you take to line up your resources prior to your job search? Schedule a specific date and time for the conversation with family. Schedule a specific date and time to visit office supply stores. Pick activities to drop and make arrangements to delegate these or get out of any commitments.