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How to Search for a Job Effectively

Finding new work can be a full-time job. Follow these steps to stay on track.

By National Endowment for Financial Education

While it may be tempting to retreat to lick your wounds after a job loss, you have to start your job search immediately and treat it like a full-time job. So take a “mental health day” to collect yourself after leaving your job, but don’t wallow in your misfortune.

Searching for a job is part skill, part luck. Fill out as many applications as you can and drop your resume off in places you’d like to work, even if there are no posted openings. Spread news of your job search to everyone who might be able to help you land a new position.

Realize how time-consuming it can be to find a new job. For example, some companies may require prospective employees to submit resumes online via their job-openings Web site as well as fill out an extensive online questionnaire. All of this can take an hour or more to complete, so be prepared to spend the time necessary when job hunting.

If unemployment is severe in your area or job sector, consider relocation, but only if you can afford it and only if it will save you money in the long run.

Because your job search is your new full-time job, plan to spend at least 30 to 40 hours a week finding your next position. Here are steps to help you get on the right job-search track.

  • Learn as much as possible about your area’s business environment.
  • Read the business section of the newspaper (available free at the library).
  • Try additional avenues such as contacts you made while researching the local business environment, alumni and religious institutions you’re affiliated with, and volunteer and community organizations.
  • Use community resources, such as job centers, local employment fairs, listings, and counselors available at the unemployment office.
  • Clip news about companies moving in to or expanding in your area. Contact them immediately for job opening information.
  • Check out your state’s and city’s economic development Web sites—they often post news of companies moving to town.

Rejuvenate Your Resume

  • Make a list of your accomplishments in your current and past three jobs.
  • Frame accomplishments in positive and tangible terms without embellishments.  For example, if you increased sales revenue, state the percentage increase, or if you created a new procedure that made the company more efficient, explain how it works and its impact — financial or otherwise.
  • When competition for jobs heats up, hiring managers end up sifting through hundreds of resumes for a single opening. Make sure your resume is free of typos, absolutely factual, well designed, and positively written.


  • Each day, make a list of people to call or e-mail, including peers, former employers, friends, and family.
  • Contact everyone you know and every group you know about to inform them of your layoff and to inquire about job openings. Include: customers, vendors, and competitors of your former employer contacts you learned about researching your area’s business environment alumni and religious institutions volunteer and community organizations
  • Use community resources, such as job centers, local employment fairs, listings, and counselors available at the unemployment office.

Submit Resumes and Job Applications

  • Set a goal each day to fill out two to three job applications or to send out two resumes. If you find these targets easy to meet, increase the goal.
  • Commit to spending 8 hours every day searching for positions — just like you’d spend at a full-time job. The time you put in will benefit you by increasing the potential for new opportunities.
  • Be open to all opportunities: part-time and full-time jobs, a different industry or a different city

Be Open to Part-Time Work

Don’t hesitate to get a part-time job while you look for full-time work. Most states allow you to work a certain number of hours and still receive unemployment benefits — usually up to half of your former earnings. So, if you were earning $400 a week working full time, most states allow you to earn $200 in part-time wages without any benefit reduction.

A good part-time job can lead to a full-time job, or at the very least, meeting new people and gaining new contacts. A part-time job also contributes to your income-earning momentum and keeps you primed for new opportunities.

This material is provided by, a site from the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) that helps people make sound decisions throughout all of life's financial challenges."

National Endowment for Financial Education
By National Endowment for Financial Education
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