Recession Job Search Overview

Note: It’s difficult to balance conducting a job search while working or going to school full-time. Here’s a suggested plan that reflects the competitive reality of today’s job market. While entire books have been written about many of the topics below, the goal of this outline is to help you quickly set up the basic framework for your job search.

 Recession Job Search Overview

Recommended Job Search Hours/Strategies For Employed Workers & Full-Time Students


  • Plan on spending 15 hours/week at a minimum (1.5 hours/day weekdays; 6.5 hours total over the weekends)
  • Submit 10 applications per week (one or two per day, including company research, résumé customization and cover letter customization)
  • Conduct two informational interviews per week (2 hours total with individuals at companies that have a high likelihood of hiring)
  • Attend two association/networking meetings per week (2 hours; if you are a student get more real world exposure by making this an off-campus/professional organization)
  • Do research about companies at the library (1 hour per week)
  • Set aside time for follow-ups and correspondence (1 hour per week)


  • Know and be able to speak convincingly about the top three strengths that will make you valuable to an organization (It’s not what the company can do for you, but what you can do for the company!)
  • At networking events, ask people for an informational interview; at the informational interview ask for ADVICE about how to get a job at their company and end by asking who else you should meet to pursue your goal
  • The quickest way to get depressed about a job search is to sit home and apply online day after day (If 80% of people get a job through networking, it’s time to get out of the house and hook up with people.)

Online Job Search

  • Spend 20 percent of your time in online job search (Even though most people get a job through someone they know, 20 percent still get their jobs online, so don’t neglect this option.)
  • Set up agents that deliver jobs to you from megasites, such as and
  • Search at other sites that are specific to your career interests, especially associations dedicated to your profession
  • Create a list of the top three companies where your skills will be especially valued
  • Create a list of 20 other companies that might be a good fit (Be realistic and strategic. Very few banks are hiring. Look, instead, at food industries, healthcare, personal care, cosmetics, government, distressed debt, or companies with strong financial performance.)
  • Track the Web sites for these 23 companies individually to stay on top of new job postings (Recognize, however, that it’s better to find out about jobs before they are posted, since by the time a job is posted the employer often has a candidate in mind and the competition is likely to include hundreds of other candidates.)


  • Research companies before you apply in order to customize your résumé and cover letter
  • Know employer’s Web site at a bare minimum
  • Know what value you can offer the company (It’s not about someone giving you a chance. You have to prove your value.)

Track Your Progress

  • Use a spreadsheet such as the one we provide to record information
  • Keep a folder with copies of the following from each application/interview

Job description

Customized résumé

Customized cover letter

Notes taken during and after interview

Your thank-you note

Consider Joining a Responsibility Group

  • Invite friends to or seek out a group to support your job search
  • Many people find it easier to stay on task if they report regularly to a group and share tips with that group
  • Celebrating the success of group members, encourages other members
  • Suggested weekly reporting metrics for group:

Applications submitted

Number of informational interviews

Number of new networking contacts

Number of networking/association meetings

Number of follow-ups

Hours spent on research

Number of pieces of correspondence

New companies of interest

Contacts that might help other members

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