Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Being Unemployed - It's A Full Time Job!

I know it's a cliche, but it's so damn true.

I had been planning to play a few more games towards my 10 x10 Challenge over the past few days, and blog about how it was all going; but a combination of the great job hunt, and a pretty severe sprain / strain / trapped nerve took me out of commission.

Sitting around and doing nothing is really not my thing, but thanks to whatever that mystery injury was, my body gave me very little choice in the matter. Who would have thought that a pang of pain every time you move your neck, or put weight on your left-shoulder could stop you doing so much!?

Well I  soon realised gaming was out of the question. Looking down to see what's in your hand, or on the board? Nu-uh, that's way too much neck movement. Shuffling? I'll need my left arm for that. It's crazy to think just how much I animate my body to do something as simple as playing a card game. Something that I consider to be quite a leisurely pursuit.

Then there is the great job hunt; which today managed to take on a life of its own!

Having mostly recovered in the neck and shoulder department, I had hoped to get a little gaming in today. I had the day planned out using the time frames that the local Job Centre had given me, which prescribes approximately 5 hours a day looking for work..

7 hours into my job search and I was still going! Now in all fairness, I always expect myself to go above and beyond my responsibilities; seeing the 5 hour benchmark as the minimum standard (and then embellishing that with the very high standards I set for myself); but 5 hours a day isn't going to get anyone, anywhere.

The Job Centre is nice enough to provide all of its clients with a checklist of what they expect you to do, and roughly how long they expect you to do it for.. And it does add up to roughly 5 hours a day. So on paper, it works.

However, the only ways that I can see anyone completing those tasks in 5 hours is either:

A: Half arsing your way through it, so that nothing is up to standard; and the net result is that you come across as largely unemployable in your applications.

B: Working smart. Build templates, doohickeys and, McGuffin's to do all the "heavy lifting" for you.

My guess, for most people it's A; because B isn't an option.

Personally, I've made a lot of headway with B today. I've got a schedule for my job searches set up in my PDA, built a spreadsheet to help me manage my workload, and have written up a few generic cover letters that will offer up the impression that they have been tailored to the role; whilst being nondescript enough to be fully recyclable.

Now that may not seem like much, but given that a cover letter can take up to 10 minutes to write, and I'm applying for about 15 - 20 jobs a day; that represents a saving of about two and a half hours every single day! That almost brings me back to the 5 hour mark (where I'd like to be), without a drop in quality; and the work management spreadsheet should do the rest.

I'm still on the look out for other ways that I can optimise the way that I work though. One thing I'm trialing is combining the scope of my covering letters; so that each cover letter ticks off two of the items on my checklist (applying for jobs, and contacting employment agencies), by registering my interest to register with the agency on the cover letter itself; whilst I have their attention with the application.

The success of this does depend on whether agencies take me up on my offer or not, but as there's nothing to lose other than another "to do" item on my checklist; why not give it a try I figure? It'll easily save me another 30 minutes a week at the very least if it works!

The last thing on my agenda was to take the whole covering letters thing to the next level (semi-automated construction from a database of recyclable content); but as that is likely to take far longer to implement than I'll see in a return on the time invested, I'll likely give it a miss.

Working smart isn't just about automation, big ideas, and fancy tools after all. It's about knowing the value of your efforts BEFORE you commit to them.

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