Acton Networkers


Time Management




The hardest part of any journey is taking the first step. Once you are in motion, momentum becomes your friend.

As with a physical journey, the hardest step in most job searches is getting started. Here are our suggestions on how to manage your time, and how to create the marketing materials (resume, cover letter, elevator speech) you will need to have before you start meeting prospective employers.

Tip: Take your time with this stage – since you only have one chance to make a good first impression.


We all have different stories to tell about how we ended up where we are. For some, it's the first time in their career they are out of work. It's a genuine shock to the system.  For others they may have had advance warning or have gone through a layoff before.  In all cases, a week or two to recover, regroup and mentally prepare for your job search "job" is encouraged. Get the word out, and talk to your family, friends, pastor, and confidantes.

In our networking group there are people working 60 hours per week on their search and others 25 hours. Is the number of hours indicative of your success in finding a job? What's the optimal level for you? How much rejection can you handle?

Nearly every book on job search [and certainly every outplacement firm] says it's a numbers game. The more contacts, applications, e-mails, letters, networking meetings the better. How do you allocate your time? You can't do it all. And being stressed out over finding a job on top of the stress of being out of work does not bode well for presenting well in person or over the phone.

Opinions abound on how to manage your time. But the pre-search effort is absolutely critical in maximizing the effectiveness of your day-to-day job search activities or schedule. These include what this member is calling - preliminaries or assumptions. Essentially, you have …

  • Researched the job of finding a job

  • Conducted self assessment to understand or revisit your accomplishments and skills

  • Created your first set of marketing materials - resume', cover letter, e-mail introduction etc.

  • Entered various search criteria into all of the job boards you think appropriate for you.

  • Posted your resume to few job boards and recruiters (Eventually you may have a dozen or more boards and the same number of executive or contingency recruiters. But for this initial push - pace yourself and attend to all of these preliminaries.

  • Attended at least one meeting of two or three networking groups (WIND, 495, Acton …) just to dip your toes in the water, so to speak.

  • Begun developing a list of companies in your targeted geographical area from which you can select to study further and target for networking

  • Created the following folders in your web site favorites
    • Recruiters
    • Target Companies [you are or will be actively pursuing]
    • Publications
    • Networking groups [Alumni links, TENG, FENG, IEEE, etc)
    • Research Outlets

  • You've passed your materials by a few business and networking people for input.

  • Selected a contact management approach

  • Set up a Targeted company binder to receive all printed information you develop over time - this could be invaluable when you finally get inside the company. Short of this consider entering salient data into a spreadsheet.

  • Established your weekly goals for
    • "Work hours"
    • Number of networking phone calls per day
    • Number of networking e-mails per day
    • Number of informational interviews both face-to-face and by phone

  • You've made a list of your "contact inner circle" of direct family, friends, acquaintances, business associates, church members etc. that you know personally or who know you or of you. This is your first generation of networking contacts.

Other ideas:

Some outplacement firms believe you need to maintain a quantitative record of your activity to maintain the pace and keep the carrot out in front. Keep comparing the results to your target. Items included can be

  • The total hours per week on all aspects of the search

  • Number of letters mailed, Ads responded to, search firms contacted.

  • Number of phone calls, e-mails - both original and subsequent

Some givens:

  • It's a job. At the end of the day go home, relax as best you can and spend time with your family and friends - just as you did before.

  • Allow time for recreation, downtime, hobbies

  • See a funny movie often - the more hilarious the better

Day-to-day time management

Weekly Planner

  • Networking Meetings scheduled to attend
  • Informational Interviews

Daily - pick from the following activities and structure your "average" day

  • Phone calls: Don't make them if you're having a bad day. Best before 9AM and just after 5 (best chance to avoid the gatekeepers) Prepare well, smile and stand up (yeah, even though you're on the phone.)
    • Networking - to people to whom you've been referred. Remember to get new contacts from each.
    • Cold - to people you have not had any luck networking in to but need to speak to.
    • Recruiters - both cold and network calls

  • E-Mail networking: Not being a sales rep, this member choose to use e-mail as a method of first choice for all networking contacts beyond the first generation. [You introduce yourself. Tell who referred you to them and ask if you could contact them to discuss your job search etc (Also see Chapter on Networking)]

  • Local newspaper ads:
    • If you find a match and the company name is listed, resist the temptation to fire off a response. You'll be one of hundreds. If you want the edge, research the company, send out a network contact request to your groups, try to find the hiring manager and differentiate yourself.

  • Target Company research - Select 1 company from your target list for in depth research
    • Add to your favorites
    • Look at career opportunities
    • Identify Company management personnel (You can ask if anyone knows so and so)
    • Update your Targeted Companies spreadsheet (See above)
    • Go to, enter the ticker symbol, Go to Quotes & News for multi-source news info (better than the company's press release section (you'll get these too)
      • To get competitors go to "Compare to Industry" (lower left corner of screen) but be careful, many times the competitors are really not true competitors.
    • Get the E-Mailing convention - example: Lastnamefirstname@xxxx or first initiallastname@xxxxx
      • You can usually get this by identifying anyone at the company and then calling the switchboard and ask, "Gee my e-mail to XYZ keeps bouncing. Can you tell me his/her correct e-mail address?"
      • Another way is to go to and enter and surf the results for some contact list to get the convention.
  • LUNCH - Always take a break

  • Job Board searches: The Internet and e-mail can be a very tempting time absorber. You could literally a large number or work hours per week electronically searching and replying.  You "feel" productive but are you really? Remember, this is only one of the many ways to locate positions and, more important, 70+% of all new positions are landed through person-to-person networking. All things in moderation. 
  • Hard copy letter campaign

  • Informational interviews - Don't overbook. Allow 3-4 hours, including travel time each. Always leave plenty of excess time, just in case you hit a home run and need to extend. Avoid scheduling more that two in a day.