I’m going to make an assumption: In our dream world, we would all quit jobs that no longer serve us and take a long break to recharge and intentionally look for our next role. If you have the financial runway to afford this – and the emotional capacity to handle what could become a bit of a work hiatus – this is a terrific option. Our culture could benefit from embracing intentional unemployment. Aren’t we all better after unplugging and recharging? Quitting a job on a Friday and starting a new one on a Monday is no way to unwind and decompress.
For those of you who don’t have the means to take a mini sabbatical or aren’t ready for that level of uncertainty, this blog is for you. How can we best make strides while still employed? How do we fit in the job search while still effectively managing our home life? Here are five tips to help chip away at this audacious goal.
- Get the Family Involved: Have a family meeting and discuss how important it is that Mom/Dad carve this time out for themselves to focus on their job search. Your kids will learn that when you’re unhappy at work, it’s time to take action. Too often we put the kids’ activities on the planners but never make time for our own needs. Commit to two hours on the weekend, probably most productively spent at a coffee shop or at least not in the home. If you’re co-parenting, maybe that time is spent on the job search every other weekend. If you’re in a dual-adult household, then give your partner a break to go to the gym or find their own way to recharge.
- Activate Your Network Using Small Goals: Aim to send out 3 to 5 networking emails per week to people who truly understand your skillset: former coworkers, trusted vendors, industry friends. Set the goal low enough that it’s easy to achieve and then reward yourself if you accomplish more. Much of the job search is about planting seeds. And if you’re anything like me, I only feel accomplished when I can check things off my list, so this plan gives you permission to feel you have “finished” a task when, in reality, you won’t be finished until you get a new job.
- Get Out of the Office: Schedule one coffee / lunch / happy hour a week if you can fit it in that frequently or shoot for at least every other week. We accomplish so much more when we can make face-to-face connections. If a live meetup isn’t possible, try video or at least catch up via phone.
- Network During Your Personal Time: Here are a few easy ways to network: Running into a neighbor at the grocery story, chatting with the other parents on the soccer field or in the stands, having a discussion at a dinner party, talking to people at the gym. Seriously. I once got a job after chatting with the stranger on the treadmill next to mine.
- Give 90 Percent at Work: This is a tough one to hear but we all give way too much of ourselves at work. We typically put in more than 100% and sometimes that only leads to us getting laid off. What could you do to reclaim even just 30 minutes of your work week to focus on your job search? If you’re committed to leaving, start scaling back on the small stuff and see if your employer notices.
So much of job searching is about networking and having conversations. Anything you can do to shift your attention from mindlessly scrolling Facebook to reconnecting with old co-workers will help. For the majority of us, our next role will come from someone we’ve previously worked with. Do your favorite contacts know you’re looking? Do they know the right kinds of opportunities for you? Do they have trusted recruiters whose names they can share?
Looking for a job can feel like a full-time job, so break it down into smaller chunks, get the commitment from your family to support the time needed to update your resume, meet with your network, and plant those seeds. With spring on the way, hopefully some of those seeds will sprout into great leads.