As with many things in life, the key to saving time while on the job hunt is to work smarter, not harder.
Sending resumes, reading profiles, filling out applications, and interviewing can be daunting. But don't fear: you can streamline the process by using these 7 not-so-obvious hacks to save you time — and energy — during your job search.
1. Work with a staffing agency.
Instead of spending hours sifting through thousands of job listings, expedite the process by letting an expert with the inside scoop do the sifting for you. Staffing agencies evaluate your previous work experience, and can even help get you application materials into top shape. They handle much of the legwork, and connect you to hiring managers you might not have access to otherwise.
2. Be selective.
Resist the temptation to apply to absolutely every job you see while in a wave of panic. Yes, doing so will increase your odds of receiving an interview invite. But those invitations can start to pile up and become a major time suck. By focusing on the quality of jobs over the quantity, you can direct your time and energy toward companies that are a good fit.
One way to narrow your search is to rank the jobs you see by level of interest, group them into tiers, and apply to one tier of jobs, wait to see which you hear back from, then apply to a second tier.
3. Translate tasks into skills.
After working in a certain position for a while, completing certain tasks can become second nature, and we forget that there was ever a time before we knew how to do them. Make a list of tasks you are responsible for, and write what hard and soft skills are required to complete them. Having a good understanding of your abilities allows you to more easily craft your applications, tailor your cover letters or letters of intent, and call specifics examples of how you have applied your skills to mind during interviews.
4. Track those call times and follow-up emails.
Being in the throes of the job search can feel chaotic, but having all of your information in one place will make the process go much more smoothly and will keep the momentum going. Keep a spreadsheet that tracks when you’ve submitted applications, interview dates, call times, and responses. Then, enter these dates into your calendar or planner so you don’t miss anything.
5. Make the most of the virtual world.
How many times have you heard the phrase ‘your network is your net worth’ in your life? As is the case with many cliches, the reason for its ubiquity is that there is truth in the sentiment. Even if you don’t have time in your schedule to meet up with former colleagues for coffee or attend official networking events, you can take advantage of the power of your network without stepping foot outside. One benefit of living in the digital age is that you can boost your presence through online profiles. Keep your LinkedIn and any websites that provide examples of your work (if applicable) up to date, and don’t be shy about promoting yourself on social media. You never know who will come across your work or share with their own network.
6. Turn on search and text alerts.
Continue to take advantage of technology by staying in the loop about when a job in the field you’re interested in is posted. You can set up alerts on Google, Fairygodboss, or most online job boards that you have a membership with. Getting notifications in real time eliminates the need to continuously search and refresh to see what’s new.
7. Have a master resume ready at all times.
Even if you’re not on the market for a new job at the moment, having a master resume of every position you’ve held on hand can be a major time-saver when you find yourself searching. As previously mentioned, it’s easy to overlook the skills you acquire while you’re in the thick of things, so write down skills you gain, committees you serve on, conferences you attend, and accolades you earn in real time. This way, you can select which of your accomplishments you want to feature on specific resumes. If you’re not doing this now, there’s no time like the present to begin. Your future self will definitely thank you.
Kayla Heisler is an essayist and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. She is a contributing writer for Color My Bubble. Her work appears in New York's Best Emerging Poets anthology.