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Plan your way to a new job

Even in ordinary times, finding a job is hard. And right now, it’s especially challenging.

There’s no sugar-coating the historic scale of jobless claims right now—over 50 million, according to recent data from the U.S. Department of Labor—or its impact on individuals and families. But if you’re job hunting, there are small steps you can take to improve your chances of finding a job and minimize your stress along the way.

By creating a plan and using tools to hold yourself accountable, you’ll bring structure and organization to each day. This will keep you on task, and it will help you reduce stress and make your search less daunting.

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Carve up your day

To manage your time, Amanda Augustine, a career expert for TopResume, recommends breaking up each day into “smaller, digestible chunks of work.” You don’t need to micromanage every minute of every day, but by creating a plan you’ll bring structure to your days and weeks—and relieve yourself of stressful, in-the-moment decisions about how best to spend your time.

Once you’ve divided your day into small tasks, Augustine recommends setting goals. For instance, you may decide to apply for at least five opportunities a week or set up at least two informational interviews with people who work in an industry or at a company that interests you.

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Create a visual plan of your weekly schedule

Make an at-a-glance schedule with blocks of time dedicated to your key activities using Microsoft Excel to help you stay focused and hold yourself accountable for what you want to accomplish each day.

Set yourself up for success with Microsteps

Microsteps are small, science-backed actions you can start taking right away to build habits that will strengthen your job search. Make them a part of your daily plan—and before long, they’ll become habits.

Here are three Microsteps you can put into action immediately to power your job search:

  1. Each day by noon, take one action on LinkedIn.
    You can work your way up to more, but start with just one action that can establish your thought leadership and engagement with your professional community. Create and share a piece of content, re-share someone else’s post, or just leave a comment. According to the resume service ResumeGo, applicants who include a link to a “comprehensive” LinkedIn profile on their resume are 71% more likely to get a job interview than applicants who don’t have a LinkedIn profile at all.
  2. Block time each day on your calendar for skill-building.
    Whether it’s pursuing a passion or addressing a blind spot, adding even one new skill to your portfolio will make you more marketable. Developing new skills not only gives you an advantage in your search, but can also position you for higher-earning roles with more growth potential. Don’t forget to add your new skills to your LinkedIn profile—members with five or more skills listed are discovered up to 27 times more in searches by recruiters.
  3. At the end of each day, reflect on one thing you accomplished.
    It can be tempting to work around the clock, but reflecting on even one small thing will help you declare an end to the day—and motivate you to start again tomorrow.

Create a networking plan

Be sure to block time each day for networking to tap into the resource most likely to get results: other people.

Often, people will approach their job search by sitting in front of their computer all day, applying to jobs found on job boards. But this has limited effectiveness, says Terrence Seamon, an executive career transition consultant at The Ayers Group who advises professionals and executives through job searches and career changes.

“The longer you hesitate to leverage the power in your network, the longer your search may take,” he says.

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Tap into your network and unlock new job opportunities

Connect (or reconnect) with people you know using the power of LinkedIn and digital networking strategies. Don’t hesitate to ask your network for tips and take action on one of Seamon’s key job seeking principles: “putting yourself out there.”

To effectively put yourself out there on LinkedIn, make yourself visible. Reshare a connection’s post with one or two of your key takeaways. Post on a regular basis—and be sure to include relevant hashtags to extend your content’s reach and prompt hiring managers or other professionals to reach out to you directly. Every action you take, however small, increases your chance of getting noticed.

If you find yourself putting time and work into networking, without seeing immediate results, that’s OK. Every action you take to make yourself a visible part of the LinkedIn community is another investment in yourself and your future success.

Increase your skill set

Whether you’re looking to change your career path and get into a new line of work or learn additional skills to make yourself more marketable, you can start developing your skills for free with learning paths from LinkedIn Learning and Microsoft Learn, then practice tech skills in the GitHub Learning Lab.

Cards displaying in demand careers and the number of open job positions

Learn relevant skills for in-demand jobs

10 jobs were identified as having the greatest number of job openings1. These jobs—including software developer, customer service specialist, and more—have had steady growth over the past four years, pay a livable wage, and require skills that can be acquired through online learning.

Organize your online job-search information

Fortunately, a lot of your job-search activities can be done online, but that also means you’ll quickly accumulate a lot of online content to keep track of and refer to later. With Collections on Microsoft Edge, you can collect, organize, and share the information you find across the web that is key to your job search. Whether it’s job listings, resume tips, or something else, you can add entire web pages or just text, images, and snippets and store them in a collection to reference throughout your job search journey. You can also export them to Word, Excel, or OneNote. You can create multiple collections to organize different types of content, such as Job listings to apply for or LinkedIn Learning courses to take.

Microsoft Edge browser showing the collections panel on the right

Reduce clutter, confusion, and distractions

Easily collect, organize, and share information you find across the web by simply dragging and dropping into the Collections pane.

Job hunting is an inherently stressful journey, and the challenges of this time only add to the uncertainty. But by creating a plan, you’ll reduce stress and see that you have more control over the process than you realize.

The experts cited in this story were not paid for their participation, nor does their participation imply an endorsement of the products and/or services mentioned above.

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  • [1] Number of job openings posted globally on LinkedIn in 2020