How long should my job search take? This is a question I’m asked all the time. It reminds me of when I was teaching and my students would ask how long the paper I had just assigned needed to be. Maybe they just wanted to see me roll my eyes and say, “Long enough to answer the question.” And, so, my answer to you is this: How long do you have?
How Long Can You Afford to Search Before Getting Stressed About Paying Bills?
This answer is different for everyone, as it depends entirely on each person’s financial situation. Can you afford to take a low-paid or unpaid internship right now at a place you want to work, in order to get your foot in the door? Can you afford to work part-time, volunteer, or take courses to best position yourself for the role you want?
Figure Out Your Expenses for the Next Year
Yes, year! Start with the LearnVest Budget Calculator to help you outline your expenses. This will help you understand how long you can truly afford to be looking. This doesn’t take into account how long you can stand to be in limbo emotionally, how long you can stand sleeping on your college roommate’s sofa bed, or how long you can deal with your family and friends asking, “So, did you find anything yet?” Once you’ve identified how long you can cope financially, pull out your calendar and work backwards to figure out how long you can spend on the preparation phases. This includes getting your resume, cover letter, and references ready to go; setting up exploratory interviews if you’re not sure what you’re looking for; setting up informational interviews once you’ve identified an industry or company; and finally, prepping for concrete job interviews.
The clock is ticking, so get out your calendar. Your job search is starting NOW!