The 24×7 Job Search

I have a friend who has a regular, traditional job. It’s enjoyable and rewarding… but his day is quite different than mine.  As an employee, he goes to work at 7 or 8, and is done by 4:30 or 5:30.  He said he leaves work and doesn’t really think about it until the next day.

As an entrepreneur I get to work in the morning, leave in the evening, and think about it ALL THE TIME.

Just like a job seeker.

There is no holiday celebration without thinking about what you have to do next.

There is no evening hours where you get to just be home, doing hobbies, chilling, etc., without wondering if that recruiter will email you back tomorrow.

The stress level can be through the roof, for sure.

Having done this for almost eleven years, let me share some things I’ve learned:

Create time boundaries.  Start and end your “work” (aka, job search) at certain, predefined times each day.  You need to respect your sanity, and your family time.  And your family needs to respect your work time. Define it, carve it out, and work to the schedule.

Make sure you have specific tasks to do. Fill up your calendar with things to do. I hear from a lot of people that the hardest thing to do is completely be your own boss, which means you can define how you spend your hours.  For lots of people, that is asking too much. Sit down, plan out your day(s), and then stick to it.

Exercise. I know that taking time away from the job search feels like you are cheating on the job search, but you HAVE TO take care of yourself physically.  I didn’t do this during my job search and I spent years catching up to being healthy (still working on that).  Look, you have enough problems. Don’t create another one by letting your body get to a point where you can’t function normally.

Eat right. If anyone needs comforting, it’s a job seeker. I get that.  But don’t get it from comfort foods. I challenge you to take this time, during your job search, to eat healthier than you ever have.  You need to be at the top of your game, just like a top-performing athlete. So why not eat like an athlete would?

Do the right things, avoid the wrong things. Don’t do busy work just to feel productive. Think about what you are doing, and make sure you are doing things that are getting you closer to one more interview, to one more networking contact, to one more meeting.  Avoid things that really don’t have to be done (with the exception of neglecting things that can erupt and become a big problem later).

Respect family relationships, especially with your spouse. I neglected my relationship with my wife for months during my job search. I didn’t realize how this would impact our relationship. Would I should have done was gone to my wife for strength and comfort, instead of waiting to go to her when I was strong and whole again.

Ignore the haters. You’ll get lots of advice, and read lots of news about how great the economy is. I listened TOO MUCH to things that I shouldn’t have listened to. This job search isn’t over until you land the job you want.  Focus on THAT, not on things that are really only distracting you.

Enjoy this time. I know, it’s easy to say now that I’m not in a job search. But this really can be a choice time.  You get to do things you normally don’t do (like network with all kinds of people, and even help and serve others). You get to take more time for yourself than you did when you worked 60 hours a week.  Whether it’s working on your health or sharpening your say (taking some classes), take advantage of this “down time” and really enjoy the journey.

Boundaries and systems are important… what would you add?