You establish a routine when you’re on the job hunt: wake up, drink coffee, check email, open multiple browsers screens to start your daily search. You might actually work harder to find a job then you’ll work at your prospective job.

During these stress-filled job hunts, you need to make sure that you’ve covered all possible territory. Check your current job-search to-do list and make sure the following ten items are on it:

  1. Work for Free

No, really. Keep reading. Volunteering is an excellent way to network. If you have even a tiny bit of space in your daily schedule, squish in some volunteer time. The angle here, though, is to volunteer somewhere you can actually use your job skills.

Vet techs can work at animal shelters, administrative assistants can work pretty much anywhere, writers should attempt to find grant writing opportunities. Use your grey matter and find the perfect place to utilize your free time.

This will also be a solid item on your resume. When you score a big interview, you won’t have several months of complete unemployment. You stayed busy and in the work force, even if you didn’t get paid.

  1. Targeted Resumes

You have a beautiful resume ready to go, and you’ve fired it off to multiple companies. That’s wonderful. It is critical to have a resume that targets a broad arena of jobs, but there are times when a targeted resume will increase your odds of getting an interview.

This is a controversial area, so use your own good judgment. However, a targeted resume can help you stand out from the rest of the application pool. It you’re applying for the job of your dreams, it might be time to show some initiative. Just make sure you don’t go overboard or in a direction unrelated to the job.

You don’t need to do this for every job, and honestly you’d probably drive yourself insane if you tried. Plus, unemployed or not, you don’t have the time to spend on tweaking every application. Make sure you keep a copy of every targeted resume, just in case you can reuse it elsewhere.

  1. Networking

Haven’t left the house in days? The Internet is a valuable tool – you are using LinkedIn, right? – but there are better ways to network.

Look for local job fairs at community centers and colleges. Frequently, local businesses will also hold a sort of business mixer, where professionals can network and exchange information. Face-to-face meetings increase your odds drastically.

  1. Gold Star Interviews

You have two interviews this week. Things are looking so good you’re already planning a vacation. Before you start buying plane tickets, however, you need to spend time prepping for your interviews.

Sure, you worked hard for your degree, but an interview is about more than your resume. Take the time to thoroughly research the company through sites likes Glassdoor, which allow you to job search and read company reviews from former and existing employees.

Be prepared to ask questions about the position you’ve applied for and about the company itself. Show the interviewer that you’re interested in the company and not just the job.

  1. Follow-Ups

Even if the interview didn’t go well, make sure you take a few minutes to send out a thank-you note. Just because you left the interview knowing the job wasn’t a good fit or you didn’t get it doesn’t mean that the company doesn’t have a more suitable position open.

You never know when a good impression will benefit you, so don’t let these opportunities go to waste.

  1. Temp Agencies Are for Everyone

Temp agencies are another way to keep your resume fresh while you’re looking for a full-time dream job. It’s stagnation that hurts your resume, remember?

If you end up at a position that you like, there’s always the possibility that your temp position will turn into a full-time job offer.

  1. Make a Schedule

Creating a schedule isn’t just a good way to stay on task, it’s a good way to stay balanced. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of overwork. Don’t just schedule in chores; schedule periods of time to take a break, hit the gym or visit a friend.

It doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on 50 Ways to Get a Job that Makes Good for motivation, too.

  1. Learn Something New

Keep your skills sharp. When you’re working, it’s difficult to find the time to learn new things, but this is exactly what you should be doing. Learn some basic HTML or brush up on accounting while you’re waiting for the phone to ring. There are many free resources online and at the library – which is still a brick-and-mortar building, honest!

  1. Track Daily Activities

Open up Google Docs and track every job that you apply to in detail. List the company, location, date that you applied and any job identifier number. Note if you’ve been to an interview, who you interviewed with and when you sent a follow-up note.

Follow a similar procedure when you network so that you have notes to fall back on if you think you might see a connection that might lead to a job.

10. Relax and Stay Positive

A period of unemployment can be extremely stressful. Maintaining a positive attitude will help keep you motivated on your hunt. Mix up your daily activities, and don’t let monotony ruin your day. That happy outlook will reflect during your interviews, too.

Following many of the above steps will help you keep an optimistic outlook on your endeavors and get you closer to landing your dream job.

At the end of the day, you’ll be able to step back and see just how much work you’ve done. Staying positive during your job search is vital.

 

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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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