Job hunt resolutions: Get organized, maximize time

There is a reason why many New Year’s resolutions fall to pieces by Feb. 1. Most resolutions are announced in a moment of sheer optimism or hopefulness, tossed into the air like confetti. Unfortunately, these kinds of declarations have no stability. They lack the groundwork that is required for significant and lasting change.

One week into the New Year, it’s not too late to build a foundation to support those ungrounded resolutions. If you decided to take a new approach to your job search in 2010, you still have time to strike some action into your words. I’m not suggesting that you come up with a point-by-point strategy for your career search. The planning stage comes next. For now, I’d like to concentrate on the most bare-bones aspect of a successful job hunt: organizing your effort.

Here are two important tips to help you run an organized, efficient job search that energizes you for the coming year:

Maximize your time. Many people find it difficult to scrape together thirty minutes for a sit-down meal, never mind a couple of hours to launch a successful job hunt. But, despite your busy schedule, a job search requires a certain amount of time and energy. You don’t have to dedicate every waking hour to the project, but you must give it some attention.

Luckily, only a few job-seeking activities must be tackled during the business day. These actions may include attending job interviews and following up on leads. The remaining tasks, such as researching companies, revising your resume and online networking, may be accomplished after hours.

Look over your weekly calendar and claim short blocks of time for phone calls and meetings. Then, evaluate your routine at home to determine if you can make minor changes (perhaps waking up earlier or turning off the television for an hour at night) to get your job search underway.

Organize your space. To streamline the process, set aside a specific location in your home for all job-search responsibilities. If possible, create a small, private office space with a desk, comfortable chair, computer and phone. This type of environment will help you maintain a focused, professional mindset as you explore job opportunities and contact potential employers.

Of course, not everyone has the option of adopting an entire room (or single piece of furniture) for their job-search pursuits. You may need to constantly relocate throughout your home, or head to the library to take advantage of public computers. If you can’t spare the physical space, load up a briefcase or portable file box with the supplies you need for an on-the-go job hunt.

Establish simple, consistent systems for managing files, schedules and contact information. Use an appointment calendar. Prepare well-labeled, easily accessible file folders. Consider creating a separate file for each position to avoid misplacing essential paperwork, such as job postings, company research and targeted resume drafts.

Don’t just declare “high hopes” for the coming year. Build the foundation for effective, long-term change by organizing your job search from the ground up. Prioritize your time. Assemble a professional work space (or briefcase). Design some user-friendly systems to manage appointments, categorize resume drafts and track correspondence with potential employers. Happy 2010.

Eve can be reached at

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