According to a recent analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of January 2017, the number of long-term unemployed (LTU) was at 1.9 million, accounting for 24.4% of the total unemployed.
What’s more, the BLS analysis showed that there are 532,000 workers who describe themselves as having become “discouraged” with the job search, and as a result, are not currently looking for work.
To avoid falling into the LTU-trap, here are a few ways to better manage your time and land a job that’s right for you:
1. Aim big, but start small
You have one main objective: Find a job with a nonprofit organization. But it may be time to shift your focus a bit and let that singular goal inform smaller, more achievable tasks.
Start by setting both daily and weekly goals. For instance, maybe your daily job search goal is to spend one hour checking Idealist.org for new listings and another hour or two researching relevant opportunities in the nonprofit sector through resources such as the Society for Nonprofits.
Your weekly goal can then be to apply to one or two jobs and sign up for one volunteer or professional networking opportunity per month.
By breaking up your main objective into daily and weekly tasks, you’re opening yourself up to small wins that may help bring you out of your job-search slump.
2. Create a work-like schedule
Having a job gives your day a sense of purpose and structure; not having a job does the opposite. To avoid feeling discouraged, structure your day by adopting an employed mindset. Or, as some job seekers would describe it, make job searching your job.
Rather than sleeping in, wake up at the same time you would if you were working. Eat breakfast, get ready for the day, and get to work on your daily job search goals. Creating a daily schedule that mimics a typical work day will keep you moving and motivated.
Your schedule might look something like this:
- 7:30 a.m. Wake up
- 8:00 a.m. Practice mindfulness exercises and set your intentions for the day
- 8:15 a.m. Breakfast
- 8:30 a.m. Get ready
- 9:00 a.m. Research employers and create and update your target employer list
- 11:30 a.m. Hit Idealist.org and target employer websites
- 12:00 p.m. Lunch
After lunch, spend the rest of the day preparing for any upcoming interviews, meeting former colleagues and contacts for coffee, connecting online with a fellow alumnus of your college or training school, starting a blog and writing a post on a topic related to your profession or the nonprofit sector, attending a networking event, etc.—anything that will boost your chances of landing a job and keep you actively engaged in your search as well as your professional development.
3. Provide social proof
By now you know the advantages of using social media to assist your job search. After all, a 2016 CareerBuilder survey found that 60% of employers use social media to research job candidates—up from 52% in 2015.
But today’s job seekers need to go beyond simply having a clean social footprint. In addition to using social media to research opportunities, job seekers should use their various social profiles as a way to provide social proof of their capabilities.
Recommendations from past employers and colleagues is a good place to start. Set up a digital profile on a free site like about.me so references and recommendations are easily accessible to anyone looking.
Take it a step further by using your other social profiles to boost your personal brand and connect with thought leaders within the nonprofit sector. Get involved in relevant Twitter chats, create sector-specific infographics to share using a tool like infogr.am, or create a job search inspiration board on Pinterest.
If you’re really motivated, create a blog post for your personal blog highlighting each of your favorite organizations, exploring what sets them apart, such as their values, campaigns, or upcoming events. Then share these posts through your various social profiles. Don't forget to tag the organization and start engaging with them online.
The nonprofit sector is full of passionate people and uplifting stories. Incorporate these into the content you produce and share on social media. The key here is to go beyond traditional uses for social media in an effort to stand out from the competition and prove your worth.
4. Get out of the house
Last, but certainly not least, leave your house. It may seem trivial, but leaving the confines of your home can boost your mood while also supporting your job search.
Meet a friend for coffee, set up an informational interview, or attend a local networking event. This is a great way to meet other professionals, make valuable connections, and discover job opportunities that may not be posted online. These events can be found on nonprofit-related sites, like the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN), and in nonprofit networking groups on MeetUp.
You may also decide to join a job club. Your chamber of commerce website and local newspapers can direct you to local clubs or you can search through the resources on CareerOneStop, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Job clubs can either be a formal or informal group of job seekers who meet to share job search tips, conduct mock interviews, review resumes, and offer general encouragement. If you can’t find one, considering starting your own via Meetup.
It’s easy to get discouraged after receiving one job rejection after another. But the key to earning that long-awaited job offer is to keep busy and keep trying. Break up your goals, create a job search schedule, and put yourself out there. It’s only a matter of time before your hard work pays off.
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About the Author | Susan P. Joyce, is an online job search expert and owner and operator of Job-Hunt.org, the guide for a smarter, safer job search.