The first thing that you want to make sure of is your pay situation in your new job. Of course, in this case that means unemployment insurance. If you qualify for UI make sure you know the process and contact info in your area. It varies state to state, and with the economy as it is the Unemployment offices are overwhelmed by claims. Make sure you have a couple hours dedicated to opening your claim on the phone, and a half a day + if you go to an office.
OK, now to set up Job Search Central:
Unless you live alone or nobody else is home during the day, try to establish a workspace that is private and quiet. Have your desktop organized and if this is a place you also do other work (paperwork, bill paying, etc.), make sure that is put away when you are in job search mode. Only paperwork relevant to job searching should be around, everything else is just going to be a distraction. If you prefer to print things out instead of keeping folders on your laptop, make sure you have some color coded manila folders for things like: job descriptions (one for ones you have applied to, ones for consideration), resumes, cover letters, references, etc.
Figure out how many hours you are going to dedicate toward job searching and stick to that. Where it is taking a little longer to find jobs these days, I suggest a minimum of 4-6 hours. I also suggest that you do no more than 8 hours either. It will become too much of a drain and you may start to lose steam. While you are unemployed, take advantage of having a couple hours to catch up on reading or doing something fun during the day.
You also want to try to do your hourly work all at one time and minimize interruptions and breaks except for lunch. Set a firm start time and COMMIT to it! If you set 9 am, then you have until then to check email, Facebook, ESPN, etc. but after 9 those pages should leave your browser and not come back until your work day is done. (OK, you can look on you lunch break, but no more than 1 hour!)
OK, think me crazy but I believe if you take job searching seriously you need to feel like it is a regular job. Don’t work in what you rolled out of bed in. You dont need to put on a suit (unless that’s comfortable for you), and even jeans are OK. Just think if you were going to be going out in public and what you would wear that day.
If you want to put on some soft music in the background, that’s cool. No headphones though, because you WILL need to be working the phones and headphones hamper phone activity. And absolutely NO television or computer games. If you IM with people a lot, try to minimize that activity unless necessary. You can put a status: “job searching from 9-12, available 12-1”
Next time, we will get into getting the tools you need for the job in shape, daily metrics, and making job boards and networking sites work for you!