Structuring Your Summer Job Search

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The old saying that looking for a job is a full-time gig may sound cliché, but it’s truewhich means you’ve got to have a plan and you can't afford to take the summer off.

“A structured job search plan will keep you focused, motivated and activity-centric in helping you achieve your targeted goal of finding a new job while you are either employed or unemployed,” Jayne Mattson, a senior vice president at Keystone Associates, a career management company, tells eFinancialCareers.

“You need to define a plan and hold yourself accountable to following the plan to ensure your success,” says Lynne Sarikas, director of the MBA career center at Northeastern University College of Business. “Resist the temptation to put it off for another day. Do something every day to support your search. Working full time on your search does not mean sitting behind your computer all day searching job boards and submitting online applications.”

Here are some strategies for effectively structuring your job search workday.

Stay Organized

“Make sure when you search the job boards each day that you are saving exactly what positions you have applied to,” Stephanie Bruha, operations manager at Kavaliro, a national staffing firm, tells eFinancialCareers. “Set reminders for yourself to follow up on those applications, noting job titles or job numbers if they are available. If you have a calendar program on your computer or smartphone, you can easily set an appointment for yourself in one week to send an e-mail or make a phone call to that hiring manager, or get back to basics and dedicate a calendar to your search and write your reminders in one week to follow up.”

Identify and Research a Target List

“Identify companies that are likely to offer the types of positions you are interested in,” says Sarikas. “Brainstorm based on your industry preferences and geographic limitations to identify all possible companies. Then do some research on the companies. Who has been hiring in the field that interests you? Which company has been having success versus major problems? Which companies employ people you know or alums of your school? Once you have done more research, prioritize your list based on where you are likely to be most successful.”

Play the Odds

Dave Denaro, a vice president at Keystone Associates, points out that these days the most common way to get that next job is through networking. “Working with search firms and staffing agencies comes in second but with a much lower probability of about 10 percent or so, and replying to job boards seems to have about the probability of a state lottery, but really about 2 percent to 3 percent from what I read,” he tells eFinancialCareers. “So align your search week with those probabilities. Spend about three and a half days a week networking and meeting people at companies you think you would like to work for. Spend a half-day a week connecting with search firms, and spend an hour a week checking job boards. Treat your time as money and invest it in the places that give the best return.”

Network Like Crazy

Sarikas suggests developing contacts at each of your target companies. Consider making these contacts through sources like family, friends and alumni. “Request informational interviews to learn more about the company, the functional areas of interest and their general hiring practices,” she says. “You are not asking for a job. Keep your network updated on your progress. Always ask each contact for additional connections you can talk to. Set weekly goals for the number of networking meetings. Always research the company and the person in advance so you can make the most of your time together and ask insightful questions.”

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