How NOT TO Burn Out in a Job Search

Published: Nov 15, 2012

How NOT TO Burn Out in a Job Search Stay True to Your Job search, But Don’t Burn Out
By Bob McIntosh, Career Trainer

Do you get the feeling that you could conduct your job search more effectively; that you’re all over the board? If this is the case, you have no direction and lack a plan.

You may not be one who likes to follow a schedule, but perhaps you should try. Following a schedule will help you organize your job search and stay true to it.

The article, “Are You Slacking in Your Job Search” emphasizes the importance of following a daily schedule. Although the example set forth in the article is a bit stringent, it gives jobseekers an idea of how to conduct the the job search on a daily basis.

Michael Farr, a well-known career development expert, was interviewed for the article. He makes a valid point: “There is a clear connection between how long it takes to find a job and the number of hours spent looking on a daily and weekly basis.”

He claims that you can reduce the average job search by half if you consistently dedicate the necessary time to it. The proper amount to time to devote to your search is 25 hours or more, according to Farr. (He claims the average search is only three or more months, but for many I know it has lasted longer.)

I have only one warning; give yourself time to enjoy some of the important things in your life—mainly alone time, time with family and friends, a rental movie, etc. Reward yourself for the hard work you do in your search with, perhaps, a night out for pizza. Giving yourself a break will help your emotional well-being.

The sample schedule in this article is 12 hours a day with minimal breaks. Don’t take this literally, especially if you’re going to continue your job search on the weekends. I recommend continuing your search on Saturdays and Sundays, but not to the extent that it interferes with important events. (Your kids’ sporting events are a great place to make connections, and the Internet never closes.)

Let me tell you a story about a jobseeker I knew years back. He was a man in his sixties with failing health and a frail wife at home. I saw him when I frequently visited an urban career center in central Massachusetts. He was always there. One day I asked him how things were going in his search, specifically how much time he was spending looking for work. He told me he spent 60-80 hours a week conducting the search.

I asked him a telling question about his relationship with his wife. With all seriousness he told me they were on the verge of a divorce. “She’s mad at me being out of the house so much,” he said. While it was unclear whether the eminent divorce was a result of the long hours he spent looking for work, it was crystal clear that the enormous amount of time he was spending didn’t help matters.

Nor did I feel it was good for his health. Sixty hours a week can turn counterproductive. This can lead to burn out. Eighty hours is just plain ridiculous.

Do as the article says. Create a schedule for yourself and stick to it. Dedicate on average 25 hours a week to the job search and combine the methods Michael Farr mentions, such as face-to-face networking, online networking, making phone calls, and searching for jobs on the Internet. All of this is good as long as you don’t burn out.

Read more biotech career tips. Find more biotech and pharma jobs by visiting the career center.

About the Author

Bob McIntosh, CPRW, is a career trainer at the Career Center of Lowell, where he leads more than 20 workshops on the career search. Bob is often the person jobseekers and staff go to for advice on the job search. As well, he critiques resumes and conducts mock interviews. One of his greatest accomplishments is starting a LinkedIn group, which is one of the largest of its kind in the state, and developing three in-high-demand workshops on LinkedIn. Bob’s greatest pleasure is helping people find rewarding careers in a competitive job market. Please visit Bob's blog at

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