Three of the Biggest Time-Wasters When Looking For a Job (And What to Do Instead)

Looking for a new job can feel like a full time job in itself. Like any job, you can only commit so much time to the grind before you start feeling burnt out. Job searches are full of time-wasting activities that can bring you down, so here are three of the biggest to avoid — and what you should do instead:

Spending Too Much Time on the Job Boards

Let’s start out with a caveat: some people do find great jobs through job-aggregate websites. It’s not that you won’t find jobs that you want to apply for, it’s that it’s easy to get sucked in and overwhelmed by the countless options you’ll find. You may end up finding a couple of jobs that are right for you, but only after you’ve spent hours sifting through a bunch of others that weren’t worth your time. Worse yet, you will be applying to the same jobs that hundreds of other job seekers apply to, and it’s hard to stand out when your application is among dozens of similar candidates.

What you should do instead…

Job boards are fine in moderation, but you want to make sure you are doing it as part of a balanced job search. Start with a list of target companies that you can contact directly to learn about job opportunities, and use your network to see if anyone can get you a referral. While it may seem uncomfortable at first, cold-calling is also an excellent way to learn about job opportunities, and, of course, staffing companies are a wonderful source for jobs that you aren’t going to find on the job boards.

Applying For Jobs You Aren’t Qualified For

It may feel like applying for as many jobs as possible is the best way to get an interview, and while there is nothing wrong with having a number of irons in the fire at one time, it’s important to apply for jobs you’re actually qualified for. Hiring Managers aren’t going to interview people who don’t have the required qualification, so spending your time filling out applications when you’re underqualified wastes your valuable time. Additionally, you may jeopardize your reputation with an organization. Applying to many jobs in the same organization will most likely be noticed. If you’ve applied to jobs in which you’re unqualified, that may be considered a red flag and disqualify you for a job you applied to in which you were qualified.

What you should do instead…

Spend time applying only to positions where you meet the necessary qualifications. It may feel more productive to apply to a dozen jobs, but a better use for your time would be to expand your professional network, research companies you’d like to work for, or personalize your cover letters and resumes.

Chasing a Dead End

Hiring Managers generally like candidates who pursue a job, so dedicating time to following up with companies after you send in an application is generally a good idea when you find a job you want. However, don’t waste time continuing to follow up on an opportunity that seems to be a dead end. If you are leaving messages, sending emails, and not getting a response, it’s time to disengage and spend your time elsewhere. Being overly persistent can be construed as distracting or an inability to work well with others. This may jeopardize your future applications within the organization.

What you should do instead…

Don’t be discouraged! A job search is a journey, one that provides many lessons along the way. The sheer act of interviewing will make you better at it, and meeting more people in your job field will expand your professional network. You may not get the first job you want, but turn your attention to the things that will make a difference for you in your search.

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