Orville Pierson’s Blog

How Many Hours Should You Put In?

They say that job search needs to be treated as a job, and I agree. But how many hours a week does that mean? On your last job, you probably worked 50 or 60 hours a week — or maybe even 80.

To get a great next job, do you need to do that in job search? Some experts will disagree with me, but I think you can work fewer hours. If you’re running an effective search, I think it’s possible to get the job done in 30 to 40 hours a week, with more four-day weeks than five-day weeks. I think it’s possible to have more time for recreation or other pursuits than you’re accustomed to.

Now, of course you need to keep your eyes open on your “days off.” You never know when the right opportunity for a very productive conversation will occur, and you certainly don’t want to miss opportunities by being off duty.

And I’m certainly not suggesting that you can just take it easy. You need to get the work done every week. You need to have a solid plan and you need to systematically work that plan for those 30 to 40 hours every week.

How do you know if you’re getting the job done? The most obvious measure is that you are making contact with one or two new hiring managers each week – usually through informal conversations.

That’s a tall order, contacting those new hiring managers every week. At the outset, you may not be able to do it in 40 hours – or even in 60. But it can be done. There’s a learning curve here just like there is in most activities. And there’s momentum: once you get the ball rolling it’s easier to keep it rolling. You need to learn to be not just active, but also productive.

There’s information on job search productivity and performance benchmarks in LHH printed materials as well as here on CRN in the eLearning. Even if job search is not your favorite job, you can attain a level of effectiveness where you do not need to work at it 40 hours a week.

But then maybe you’re one of those lucky people who is having lots of fun with your search, and just flying along very productively. If so, that’s great. And it’s okay with me if you work on it 80 hours a week.

Orville Pierson is LHH’s Director of Program Design and the author of The Unwritten Rules of the Highly Effective Job Search (McGraw-Hill) and Highly Effective Networking: Meet the Right People and Get a Great Job (Career Press). With over 30 years’ experience in career services, he leads the team that designs LHH’s career transition programs. Orville can be reached at orville@highlyeffectivejobsearch.com with comments and questions that might become part of future postings, but he cannot respond to them individually.

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