Hop on Google to look for job search advice, and you’ll find plenty of articles, podcasts, and LinkedIn posts with tips that require hours each day to implement.
Some suggest creating an in-depth “value validation” project for each role. Others tell you to reach out to 100 people a week until you get an offer.
For most people, that type of time-intensive job search is out of the question.
Many people don’t have the luxury of taking time off to hunt for a job. In fact, even landing an interview can be a stressful situation if it requires taking a sick day or finding someone to pick up the kids from school.
So despite popular belief, the job search is not like going to the gym every evening after work. It’s not hard but rewarding; it’s just hard. You’re either getting responses and scheduling interviews, or you’re not. You might work your butt off for months without feeling like you’re making progress.
Doing anything that time-consuming for months and months is bound to burn you out.
But as the cofounder and CEO of Edvo—a job search platform making it easy for candidates to identify careers on the upswing—I know the job search doesn’t have to feel like a bad full-time position, overloaded with unpaid projects and unsustainable hours. You don’t have to work 80-hour weeks to find the right role. You just have to be analytical and thoughtful.
Here are three tips to prevent your job search from feeling like a full-time job:
1. Start optimizing your time by prioritizing what gets the most results
When job searching, you want to focus on finding the most efficient method and applying yourself consistently.
For starters, if you look at recruiting data, you’ll find that companies hire the most people through internal referrals. In fact, the vast majority of companies prioritize referred candidates before the ones who apply through job boards. On top of that, those companies often offer incentives—anywhere from $500 to $5,000—for employees who refer eventual hires.
Instead of spending hours canvassing job boards, start focusing on securing internal referrals.
Receiving an internal referral is a more time-consuming process because it requires building a relationship with someone before asking for a favor. But if a company has a referral incentive in place, a current employee is more likely to jump at the chance to meet you. And if they believe you could be a good fit, it’s highly possible they’ll refer you to a hiring manager.
That’s why prioritizing networking and acknowledging the power of referral programs is an excellent use of your time during the job search.
2. Spend most of your search doing what matters most—networking
Let’s say you’re searching for a job and sending out 100 applications every evening. You’re feeling good, and with that volume, it seems like only a matter of time before you start seeing responses in your inbox.
In reality, you’re not optimizing your search for the highest return.
That’s because job boards—sites that provide a wide reach with minimal time investment—are impersonal and inefficient. You simply upload a résumé and start clicking “apply.” You have no connection to the hiring manager on the other end.
If you want to decrease the overall amount of time you spend looking for a position, you have to cut down on the time you spend on job boards and use it to network instead.
Networking naturally takes longer because of the necessary research and communication, but the ROI is way higher than for a job board.
Think of it this way: If you contact 10 people and one person responds, that’s a 10% conversion rate. If you send out 100 applications and one company responds, that’s a 1% conversion rate. Now, remember that internal referrals have an astronomically better chance of actually being hired. Not only is the time you spend on networking increasing your odds of getting a response, but it’s also increasing the odds that response will lead to a job.
When you begin approaching your job search analytically, you’re more efficient and effective—which can help you land a job that much faster.
3. Push back against any process that wastes your time
Getting an interview, especially a second or third interview, is an amazing feeling when you’re on the job hunt.
The problem is that very few companies optimize their interview process to take the candidate’s time into account. Companies will often hold all-day interviews, having candidates meet with multiple interviewers or teams to make sure it’s the right fit. While that can be a great way for a candidate to get to know a company, it’s also extremely time-consuming.
As a candidate, you have to decide whether it’s worth it—or even possible—to take a day off of work for a marathon interview.
You have to candidly ask yourself if this is the right opportunity for you.
If you aren’t convinced the company will make a decision after this interview, it’s completely okay to request a 15-minute call with the recruiter. Simply tell them you work full-time and will need to take an entire day off. And then ask a little more about the interview process and make sure you understand who you’ll be talking to, what the next steps are, and what the company’s intention is for this interview.
If you feel good about the call, then you might need to sacrifice a sick day or PTO. If you don’t feel good about it, then you just saved yourself an entire day with a 15-minute phone call.
That’s the power of looking at the job hunt through an intentional, thoughtful lens. And the moment you begin to treat it analytically is the moment you take back your time—and take control of your job search.