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How to audit your time for your job search

Posted on 12 October 2022

How to audit your time for your job search

​6-minute read

In its simplest form, a time audit is the process of tracking where and when you spend your time. Often it is used in the working environment to help analyse and arrange time more efficiently and allow leaders, teams, and individuals to focus more on important/priority tasks.

Time auditing can be implemented at any time but when referenced to your job search, we recommend doing so when your search has been ongoing for several weeks without any clear success pattern. The reason behind this is that the longer your search goes on without success, the harder it is to calculate exactly what might be and might not be working.

Successfully time auditing your job search will help you not only get a grasp of where you are spending your time but help boost productivity as you can create a more refined plan and focus on areas that are showing the right results hopefully getting you to the end goal of securing the right job quicker.

The remainder of this article will show you exactly how to not only audit your time but also analyse the results to help create the right action plan moving forward.

 

How to audit your time?

As with any time audit, the first thing you need to do is establish a time audit chart, a document that will help you track what ‘normal’ looks like for you regarding your job search.

The establishment of ‘normal’ is extremely important as you need to have a baseline of activity to analyse, this is why we suggest conducting this a few weeks into your job search when the immediate influx of applications are finished and the baseline is more accurate.

 

Step 1 – Set up your document

Firstly, you need to set up your document, we would suggest using either a Word document with tables or an Excel spreadsheet. You can get fancy with auditing software, but we really don’t believe that is required if you have a smartphone with an alarm system (which they all do…).

Step 2 – Create your activity categories

Once you have created your document you will need to populate it with activity categories. These will be activities attributed to the job search that you complete over the course of a set amount of time. A few examples to consider are ‘LinkedIn Job Applications’, ‘Google Search’, ‘Networking’ or ‘Speaking with your recruiter’. These can change over time of course but consider all elements where you spend your time usually over the course of a week.

 

Step 3 – Set up your alarm

If you are using auditing software you will often find these are built in but as mentioned you can also use a smartphone and create a reoccurring alarm to sound off at 15, 30 or 60-minute intervals. As your job search process might be sporadic, we would recommend sticking to 15-minute alarms, but if you find yourself dedicating a much larger time of your day then of course increase to fit your needs.

With every alarm, register what you are working on, re-set and go again.

This process of check-in should be very quick, no more than 30 seconds to summarise what you are working on. The idea here is to be very honest with yourself, remember we need to analyse where your time is truly being spent, so if you’re ‘networking’ but really only scrolling on a news feed, write that down.

 

Step 4 – Rinse and repeat

Tracking for a day or two is not long enough to really establish where your time is truly being spent. If you are auditing a work week, then many recommend doing so for 5 days… as we are auditing a job search process and as already mentioned this isn’t something you likely do for long periods daily, we would recommend auditing your time over a period of 2 weeks.

If you manage to secure a job during this time, then big congratulations… if not, then at least you now have data to analyse to help pivot your search accordingly.

 

How to analyse the results?

The tracking of time is only one part of the process, the next step would be analysing the results and drawing a conclusion. To begin with, start by splitting your results into two core groups:

Productive – these are tasks and activities that brought you closer to your final goal, these might not have been the highest of priority, but they were important as they helped edge you closer.

Unproductive – on the flip side, these are tasks and activities that wasted time or simply put were unproductive.

 

Once you put these lists side by side you will get a clear picture of how you are truly spending your time during your job search. The idea of auditing time during your search is to identify where things might be going amiss and help boost productivity by spending more time in areas that yield the best results.

To boost productivity, we can implement a few strategies based on your results:

 

Result Checking

If you have completed your audit, there is a strong possibility that what you have been doing so far hasn’t resulted in you moving as far through a job search process as you would like.

Result checking is the process of cross-referencing the ‘results’ you have obtained thus far (positive answers, rejections, and everything in between) with the activity that helped achieve those results.

You can then check the results against the activities with the plan of using the next method to yield better results by focusing on activities that prove to be more successful.

 

Chunking

With a better idea of what productive activities are producing the best results, you can allocate specific chunked time during your week to ensure that spend more time uninterrupted on the right areas.

You can then consolidate smaller tasks around these core chunks each week to help support other components of your job search to round off and cover a wider range of activities.

A perfect example might look like this. Three 1-hour sessions each week scouting new live job adverts (LinkedIn Jobs, Google Searching, Xing etc.) and finding the right hiring managers to approach directly (core sessions), coupled with three 30-minute learning sessions around interviewing, CV writing and negotiating.

 

Milestone Creation

Chunking will help create focus in your days, but milestones will give clear guidance as to what you can accomplish in each session.

A simple example following on from the above could be that in each core session, you aim to reach out to 5 hiring managers with personal messages regarding your interest. Having these smaller more manageable milestones will not only help keep you focused each day but also allow you to celebrate every win, not just the final win when you sign a new contract.

 

Will time auditing your job search solve all your problems… no… but what it will do is help you understand exactly where you are spending time and if that time is being spent in the right areas. Too often we focus on the wrong tasks or those that are not bringing us closer to our ideal quickly, time auditing will help you understand this for yourself and hopefully reset you on the right path.

Feel free to share your results after auditing with us and if you feel someone else could benefit from learning about this, then please share the article with them and collectively we can help bring simplicity to the chaos of recruitment.

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