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We often think of the job search as a set of discrete, concrete steps: writing our marketing documents, preparing for interviews, networking, using LinkedIn, etc. However, there are also some less tangible factors job seekers must consider – the first of which is the need to be selfish.

Maybe this isn’t the optimal word, but the fact is you must demand the time you need if you are to conduct a successful job search.

1. Be Selfish

This is one of the messages I impart to my “Introduction to the Job Search” workshop attendees. My spiel goes something like this:

“You can’t let anyone get in your way of looking for a job. You can’t let anyone tell you to watch the kids or grandchildren. You can’t let anyone tell you to do errands that will take up your whole day. No home projects, unless the pipes have burst. Do you get what I mean?”

Almost every attendee nods in agreement; some lower their heads and look at their desks.

I then tell my attendees that there are things aside from resumes and interviewing skills to consider when conducting a job search. Things like:

2. Display a Positive Attitude

Throughout your job search, it’s important to display a positive attitude. The operative word is “display.”

I’m not going to preach the importance of feeling positive all the time. I’ve been unemployed. I know how much it sucks. How you feel is a personal matter.

I am, however, advising you to appear positive. This begins with the way you dress for the day. It is entirely possible that you may run into someone who may have the authority to hire you – or at least give you a strong referral. It’s important that you are always dressed well. You don’t have to be dressed to the nines, but you certainly shouldn’t walk around in sweatpants and a t-shirt.

Other ways to display a positive attitude have more to do with your behavior, such as suppressing anger, wearing a friendlier countenance, making an attempt to be more outgoing, and (this is tough) not showing your desperation.

seaOne of my customers comes across as angry. He always mentions how long he’s been out of work when asked to talk about himself. That is a no-no when you’re trying to explain the value you can present to employers. (This also applies to your presence on LinkedIn.)

3. Be Dedicated to Your Job Search – But Don’t Burn Out

If you’re going to demand the time it takes to conduct your job search, you have to show your loved ones that you are serious about your job search. Don’t sleep in late, lounge around in you pajamas watching Ellen, go out with the buds all night, etc.

How can you rightfully deny those around you who need your assistance when they don’t see any effort from you? You can’t. They don’t see any dedication to the job search, so naturally they’ll want you to pull your weight in other ways.

I ask my clients how many hours they worked every week when employed. Most of them report more than 40 hours. I then ask them if they need to dedicate this much time to their job search – to which they often say yes.

To their surprise, I disagree with them. Twenty-five to 30 hours a week is plenty. Any more than this may lead to burn out. Search smarter, not harder.

But searching smarter requires a well-thought-out plan.

4. Have a Plan

The best way to reach your goal of landing a new job is to create a career action plan (CAP) and follow it as closely as you can. Sure, there will be times when you slip and miss a date or change your plan around. This should not discourage you or cause you to abandon your plan altogether.

Your plan may look similar to this:

- Early morning: Take a walk or go to the gym, then eat breakfast.
- Mid-morning: Attend a networking group, or go to workshops at your local career center.
- Noon: Gather with some networking buddies for lunch.
- Mid-afternoon: Volunteer at an organization where you can utilize your existing skills and learn new ones.
- Evening: Eat dinner with family or friends.
- Late evening: Use LinkedIn to connect with more people.

Note: Your activities will vary from day to day, and you may want to include other activities in your plan, such as meeting with recruiters, using job boards, or going door-to-door to drop off resumes (yes, this works). Just maintain a similar daily structure.

When you show those around you your CAP, they’ll realize you’re serious about your job search. They will most likely encourage you to follow through on your objectives. Keep people updated on your progress during the week. Most importantly, your CAP will help you feel better about your job search, especially if you’re meeting the majority of your objectives.

Being selfish – by which I mean demanding time for your job search – is difficult for some folks, especially those who feel the need to help others before helping themselves. However, being selfish is necessary for a successful job search.

Of course, I stress to my workshop attendees the importance of supporting those around them – but only when they have time to spare.

A version of this article originally appeared on Things Career Related.

Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer who leads more than 15 job search workshops at an urban career center.



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