How to Look for a Job When You Don't Have Time

No one has the time to make a job search a full-time job - let alone to waste time doing it ineffectively. Here are the 6 things you need to do right now to maximize your job search efforts.

With all of the job boards and social media out there, it is easy to get trapped into another full-time job of applying for a new job. Yet, most people don’t have the time (or patience) to spend on their search when the demands of life already keep you busy. Here are 6 easy things to do to streamline your job search:


Employers receive an average of 70 applications per job that is posted. The longer you wait to apply to the job, the more likely it is they aren’t looking at resumes because they already found enough qualified candidates to interview. So, never underestimate the importance of being an early applicant to a job that is posted (or even better an applicant before it is posted). Here are a few easy things to do to keep you in the early pile:

  • Set-up job board email notifications. No one wants more email, but getting a summary of the new jobs each day to your inbox is one way to stay on top of the applications (and to cut the time of searching through the postings yourself). Consider setting up the Contingent Plan job alerts here.

  • Use Google Alerts. Let Google tell you when there is new news about the company that you want to work at, yourself, or any other industry specific alerts that help your search. Easy to do and highly effective when you put a little strategy into the types of words you want to track on Google.

  • Set-up company specific alerts. Many companies will only post certain jobs to other job boards while keeping the rest for their internal careers page. So, setting up the company’s alerts could mean the difference between taking a shot at a position or completely missing out.

  • Consider text alerts. Many job boards and companies are moving to texting their candidates about new positions of interest – particularly for entry-level roles or urgent needs. Depending on your experience level and search, a text alert may make sense.


Being a weekend warrior will only hurt your search because you will either burn out or miss out on roles that closed during the week. Really, the only way to keep yourself on a schedule is to block off time each day for a job search. Starting with 10 minutes a day on a train ride or during lunch can be an easy way to stay on top of your search. A few other things to consider when making sure you keep the momentum going forward for your job search:

  • Set a timer. Put a timer on your phone or computer and stop as soon as it goes off. This way you won’t get stuck spending time you don’t have.

  • Do it early in the day. It’s easy to not do something if you can keep pushing them off. Doing things to help your job search early in the day can help you make sure that it gets done.

  • Have a plan. Knowing what you need to do when can make or break your ability to stay on a schedule. Spending 1 day to build a strategy can make your search more effective and focused. Need help building a plan to tackle your job search? Find our how our career experts may be able to help.


Instead of sharing funny memes, redirect your time on social media to focus on your job search. Most candidates don’t realize that there is now human resources technology that is used by many companies that will pull data directly from your social media profiles and activity to assess your viability for the role. Beyond protecting your reputation and application, think about using social media to advance your search by doing a few of the following things:

  • Get recommendations. LinkedIn has functionality that enables you to request references directly from people that you worked with on the platform. Some companies (including large ones) will use these to replace the reference check because of the emergence of fake references. Take 5 minutes and request a few recommendations from your colleagues or customers about their work with you on a particular project, initiative, etc.

  • Set-up job alerts. Jobs that are posted on LinkedIn or Facebook aren’t always available through the traditional job boards. Consider setting up job notifications on these platforms to catch the additional positions.

  • Tell recruiters you are looking. Recruiters understand that you probably don’t want your boss to know that you are open to new roles, but we need some help to find you. LinkedIn and other social media platforms have ways to tell just recruiters (and no one else) that you are looking. Make sure to spend 10 minutes to figure out if these settings changes are right for your search.

  • Make it possible for recruiters to find you. Optimize your profile to match with your resume. Use this is as an opportunity to build an expanded version of your resume with all of the keywords so that recruiters can find you in their searches. Need help optimizing your profile? Find some more tips here.


You can’t follow-up on applications unless you keep track of where you have sent your resume and for which roles. Plus, tracking where you spend your time and what is working (and what isn’t) will help you to best modify your efforts going forward. It may seem cumbersome, but taking a few minutes to set-up a tracking method that works for you can make a huge difference in your search. Consider the following when building out your tracking method:

  • Job titles matter. Tracking the specific name of the job that you applied to is as important as the job requisition number because it can be an indicator of what department/division the role is in. Plus it enables you to spot a duplicate job posting when you keep searching across the various internal and external job boards.

  • Don’t forget the position number. The number assigned by the company to the job that is posted helps the company track the position and its applicants. Forgetting this number in your follow-up can mean that your efforts are wasted because the person on the receiving end can’t tie you back to their system.

  • Remember the 5 Ws. Tracking the who, what, where, when, and why will make it easy for you to remember the most important details when you look back in a couple of days (or weeks or months). Take a minute and track this critical data in one place.


Who you know can be more important than what you know in your job search. Make sure that you use this information to your advantage throughout your search. The people in your network want to help you, but they need to know how they can help and when. You also may not be able to share with everyone in your network that you are looking for a new role. So, consider the following when building a strategy to leverage your network in your job search:

  • It can be bigger. Careers are long and everyone can use more people in their network whether they are looking for a job actively or casually. Consistently work on growing your network and start to identify the weak spots. Focus your efforts to grow your network on the areas where you don’t already know someone.

  • Reach out proactively. Target companies where you want to work next and see if you know anyone that works there. Don’t wait until a position is posted by the organization before you start reaching out. Reach out now and ask for the person’s insights  – including what they do and why they like (or don’t) their job.

  • Be smart about it. Think if the tables were turned about what you would want to know or hear. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes goes a long way to crafting an effective message for your network.

  • Go with a goal. Every conversation (in person or electronically) that you have with someone in your network should be with a clear objective. This can (and probably should) be to ask for names of other people who may be able to help with your search. Have this target clearly defined before the conversation starts helps ensure that you hit the goal every time.


You don’t have to be an island in your job search. Recruit help from your network to help in the process. Consider looking for help from professionals to get the extra help if your time is limited and you want to move quickly. Here are a few resources to consider when finding the right help to delegate some of the tasks in your search:

  • Alumni resources. The value of your degree goes beyond the piece of paper. Consider reaching back to the career services office at your old University for help in updating your resume, building your network with alumni, etc.

  • Use your assistant strategically. If appropriate, be strategic about using your assistant for your current role to help schedule some of the networking meetings or to do some of the research for your current search. Be careful in how you decide to proceed with this option as news can travel if you aren’t strategic about what you share and how.

  • Recruiting firms. Work with as many recruiting agencies as you can to help your search. Keep track of who you are talking to and keep following up periodically to stay on the recruiter’s radar. If you haven’t already, make sure to complete your profile with the Contingent Plan.

  • Hire a Professional. Consider working with people who are experts in talent acquisition like the Contingent Plan. Career experts write resumes professionally and already know how to beat the ATS. This means you don’t have to start from scratch and can focus your efforts on the more important parts of your job search – like networking or following up on prior job applications.

Regardless of your experience level, looking for a new job is a process that takes time. It is easy to get stuck in an unproductive routine if you don’t first take the time to develop a plan and stick with it on a regular basis. No matter how you decide to proceed, it is most important that you keep up the momentum and do something every day to help your search.