Stephen Rood is so busy looking for a job that it’s a full-time job — he spends 40 hours a week on the job hunt. He’s busy enough that he considers his travel time of one to two hours of drive time to a few networking meetings each week as “breaks.”
“I don’t take breaks at home to watch TV or movies,” he wrote to AOL Jobs in an e-mail. “I don’t go out shopping.” His breaks are his drive time, along with one exception: weekends. He keeps those free to relax.
That’s the least amount of time that job seekers should take off, said Matthew Beck, managing director of the Mergis Group’s Miami office, who advocates stepping back and taking a mental break every now and then, but not to drop out of the search for more than a week.
“I don’t think summer is good time to completely shut down your search. You never know when you might miss the right opportunity,” Beck told the Miami Herald.
Recruiters typically advise job seekers to treat a job hunt like a full-time job. Rood said he’s been doing that since being laid off in October 2009 after a consulting gig didn’t lead to a full-time job that he expected when he took the gig 10 months earlier.
But since a job search is so much work, workplace psychologist Dr. Janet Civitelli recommends against spending so much time and says it’s wildly unrealistic for job seekers to attempt to spend 40 hours per week trying to find a job.
“Few people could sustain a focused and productive job search for 40 hours per week, week after week,” Civitelli wrote in an e-mail exchange with AOL Jobs. ” A job search is usually emotionally exhausting, so good self-care is essential. Most job search campaigns end up being more like a marathon than a sprint, so job seekers should pace themselves.”
Civitelli, who also works as a career advice coach, advises her clients to spend an average of 20 to 25 hours per week on their job search, and the rest of their time on outside interests.
“Exercise, meditate, relax with friends and family, learn new skills, enjoy your hobbies,” she said in an e-mail. “You’ll make a much better impression when you finally land job interviews if you are happy and refreshed vs. miserable and burned out.”
Diana Voigt, who is looking for work in her profession as a marketing consultant, recently took a few months off from her job search so she could recoup from the endless searching on the Internet. In an e-mail with AOL Jobs, Voigt said it takes hours to “differentiate” her resume and cover letter once she finds jobs worth applying for, and that the search for good job listings can take all day to sift out four or five possibilities.
In the meantime, she’s making a living as a bartender — a job where people come to take a break from work.