Time Management and the Job Search When Unemployed

Adding structure to your job search can be a key component to helping you succeed.


When you’re unemployed, it can be hard to stay motivated to do productive things. Most of your day should be taken up by your job search — the seemingly endless, often unfulfilling, job search.

Experts say that when you’re unemployed, looking for work is a full-time job in itself. “The upside to being out of work is that you have plenty of time to conduct a proper job search,” said Tammy Gooler Loeb, a career and executive coach in the Boston area. “The downside is that you have too much time.”

To fill that time, Loeb suggests a job search schedule that resembles a regular 9-5, Monday-Friday work routine. For example: wake up at 7 a.m., make coffee, shower, get dressed and hit the job boards right away. Then spend the whole morning researching companies online, e-mailing and calling people in your network. For lunch, you’re entitled to a quick break but make it shorter than a “regular” lunch break because as an unemployed worker, you no longer have that luxury. The rest of the day be should spent following up on applications you’ve sent out in the previous week, and crafting an effective communication strategy for the next round of possible job opportunities.

It takes a lot of self-discipline to do this because you’re basically doing it on your own, without the help of an employer to hold you accountable. And though the routine has the structure of a full-time job, it’s not something that counts toward your work history. That, Loeb says, can be a problem. “It’s important to — whenever possible — have something on your resume that’s current,” she said. “Employers don’t want to see that you’re doing nothing.”

In order to make sure the top of your resume isn’t a position you held up until 2010, Loeb said recommends that unemployed job seekers take on new responsibilities such as volunteer work for charity, consulting for a few small clients in your field or serving on a board of directors. “It’s always a good idea to show that you’re involved with something,” Loeb said.

The challenge then becomes making time for this new non-paying ‘job,’ but with the ultimate objective being jump-starting your career, it’ll be worth it to go that extra mile. Plus, these new ‘non-jobs’ could be great opportunities to make business connections that could help you get a real one — maybe even open the door to an opportunity that you wouldn’t have found in a traditional job search routine.