Each day on our calendar gives us 24 hours to use as we please. An average person spends 8 hours sleeping and 16 hours awake. Unlike money, which can be earned back after being spent, time passed is gone forever. Within the context of a job search, using your time wisely will help you reach your employment goals more quickly.

The Pareto Principle – The 80/20 Rule

According to the Pareto Principle, you’ll get 80% of your results from only 20% of your activities. Most people who are successful in accomplishing their goals actively practice this principle and have figured out which 20% of their activities – otherwise known as “high-payoff activities” – bring them the results they want.

What are your high-payoff job search activities?

There are multiple job search activities you could choose, including, but not limited to:

  1. Applying for jobs and posting resumes online
  2. Attending job search networking groups
  3. Building a strong LinkedIn presence
  4. Connecting with recruiters
  5. Participating in professional associations and groups
  6. Reaching out to people in your network (statistics have proven that 48% of jobs are found through referrals from friends or family, compared with 3% to 5% from classified ads and job boards)
  7. Researching companies where you’d like to work and sending a targeted resume and cover letter to the hiring manager
  8. Visiting job fairs (in-person or online)

Monitor the time you spend on each one, to determine which bring you the highest quality/ number of contacts and resources leading to right-fit job opportunities. Whichever activities are working best for you will be your high-payoff activities. You need to do more of those and less of the others, to reach your employment goals faster

For example, if you discover that you make better connections through people you know than at job fairs, then reaching out to people in your network would be considered a high-payoff activity and you should plan to schedule more time during your day for this activity and perhaps skip job fairs, unless they’re targeted toward your industry.

Track how you spend your time
Of course you’re not just choosing between different job search activities – there are many other activities and tasks competing for your attention. Most of us strive for a well-rounded life that includes time for family, friends, leisure, creativity, exercise, community involvement and other elements.

There is a time and place for all of that. It can be helpful to think of your job search as your full-time job and spend that many hours towards your employment goals. Track your time to ensure that your job search hours are spent on high-payoff activities, rather than TV, aimlessly surfing the web or social media sites, busy work that is not related to your job search, or lower-quality job search activities.

To help practice better time management, ask yourself:

  1. What are your high-payoff activities?
  2. How often can you schedule them into your day to get the results you want?
  3. How can you say “no” to activities and distractions that do not support your goals?

Click here for a Time Management Grid, to help you evaluate how you spend your time.

© Joellyn Wittenstein Schwerdlin, The Career Success Coach 2014 www.career-success-coach.com