6 Habits to Help You Hunt for a New Job in 20 Minutes a Day or Less

updated Jan 4, 2021
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Let’s face it: Sometimes searching for a job can feel like a full-time job itself. Between lengthy applications, customized cover letters, and timely follow-up emails, finding a job requires commitment, focus, and persistence that’s often pretty time-consuming. The situation can feel that much more dire right now, given the current unemployment rate.

According to Kayme Canaii, a career breakthrough coach at Your Career Girl, the way some people apply to jobs might actually be slowing down the process even further. “Many people make the mistake of applying to as many online job postings as possible, day after day, with little results,” she tells Apartment Therapy, adding that strategic networking and carefully submitting your application are equally important. “The goal should be to send out high quality applications—not the quantity of applications you submit.”

Thankfully, whether you’re in need of employment ASAP or just in search of your next fulfilling role, there are an assortment of ways to be proactive in the digital job hunt that won’t that won’t take up all of your time. From creating a clear-cut job search schedule to the best online networking practices, here’s how career coaches say you can effectively search for a job in under half an hour a day. 

Home in on the positions you really want

Setting aside time to identify what you are looking for career-wise is crucial before you begin any job search, according to career and executive coach Maggie Mistal. “Take a few minutes to reflect on the professional titles and companies you admire and why, as well as any past roles and jobs that have made you happy,” she says. “This way you get specific about the elements of your ideal career, and know which roles are a fit for you at which organizations.”

Once you’ve determined what positions you are interested in applying for, looking through keywords and search engines for matching or overlapping opportunities can help expedite the process. Sarina Virk Torrendell, the founder of withSarina Career Coaching, recommends setting up alerts on job boards, such as LinkedIn Jobs and Indeed, for those specific roles. “This way you can get updates on those jobs sent directly to your inbox, versus spending hours searching for them online,” she says.

Focus on companies, not titles

According to Patricia Figueroa, the owner of The Career Glow Up, applying to every available opening that you qualify for isn’t going to do you any favors in the long run. “The smarter plan is to conduct a very targeted job search, focusing solely on the companies that you actually want to work for,” she explains. “You can do this by searching company websites, not just job boards, to review their openings.” She advises that applying for around ten different roles a week is a good benchmark to aim for.

Along with searching a company’s website for open positions, Nii Ato Bentsi-Enchill, founder of Avenir Careers, recommends reaching out to some of their employees on LinkedIn. “Send a few of them a brief message introducing yourself,” he says. “Not everyone will respond, but all you need is one strong connection to help you advance in your candidacy.”

Set up a schedule to keep your job search on track

Consistency is a key element of job search success, which is why Canaii recommends creating a strategic job search schedule, just as you would establish any other routine. “For example, you may choose to search for two to four interesting job postings on Sunday and apply to them on Monday,” she explains. “On Tuesday you may use LinkedIn to connect with two to three industry contacts or recruiters from your shortlisted companies informing them of your candidacy and seeking out any upcoming opportunities in the organizations they recruit for, and so forth.”

While it doesn’t matter which job hunt-related activities you choose to tackle each day, Canaii says it is important to set aside some time every week to focus on follow-up outreach. “Make sure to schedule time to touch base with your network and follow up on any pending applications or interviews,” she advises. “The key here is scheduling and completing a variety of tasks each week that are manageable and effective.”

Reach out to recruiters

Connecting with job recruiters in your respective field on LinkedIn is another small but effective step you can take towards finding a job. You can find recruiters in your industry by entering ‘recruiters’ or ‘headhunters’ in the search bar—the ones most relevant to your profile will appear first—or by entering a specific company’s name before “recruiter” in your search.

Once you identify recruiters, Figueroa suggests sending them a connection request along with a quick note about your interest in the company and their availability to chat. “Even if they don’t respond, you could potentially connect to a recruiter at the company, and possibly get updates on positions you’ve already applied for, as well as jobs that become available in the future.”

Apply with a temp agency

When you’re short on time and funds, using a staffing agency to find a short-term job assignment doesn’t require a ton of outreach, and can sometimes lead to a permanent position. You can find both general temp agencies—which cater to a wide range of professional fields—and industry-specific ones by researching ones in your area online, as well as asking friends and colleagues for referrals. 

If you’re already employed but interested in a different career, temp jobs can be a great way to gain experience in a new field without committing to a long-term position. Many businesses rely on staffing agencies to help fill short-term positions, so using one to land a job could also help you get your foot in the door at a specific company.

Be strategic about networking

A little networking can go a long way when you’re looking for a job. “Using LinkedIn to find and speak to people whose current jobs match the characteristics of the career you’re after is a great way to build your professional network in just a few minutes a day,” Mistal explains. “These connections can help lead you to relevant job opportunities, and possibly a referral.”

If there’s a specific position you plan on applying for, Torrendell recommends reaching out to the hiring manager on LinkedIn, if possible. “Search for the team lead in the department of the company you’re applying for, and send them a quick note that shares why they are interesting to you, as well as the value you can bring to their team,” she says. “You can also include a specific but approachable ask, such as ‘Do you have 15 minutes for a virtual coffee or phone call sometime next week?’ to demonstrate your enthusiasm while trying to get the ball rolling.”