If you’re serious about job hunting, and you know you’re ready for your next challenge, you can’t afford to waste time and potential opportunities.

Try some of these efficiency tweaks to get the most out of your job hunting and find your perfect role sooner rather than later.

Map out your goals, and how you’ll reach them

Know roughly where you want to be in one year, two years and in five years’ time, and how many rungs on the ladder there normally are between year five and now. You can’t always say for sure which side of an industry you’ll work in, but you should have an idea to start you off.

Remember that frequent job hopping can make you look uncommitted, so it’s unwise to take a job half-heartedly, just because nothing better comes along.

It’s fine to reject a job offer if you realize the role doesn’t match with your career goals – in fact, this is one of the top reasons for not taking a job, along with final offer differences from what was proposed, and clashes with the company culture.

To save yourself time, try to develop your gut instinct based on the company website, news stories and social media, and anything you’ve heard from your peers about how the company runs.

If there’s obviously no career progression or the company is too traditional for you, is it worth your time?

Treat it like a work project

Finding a job is similar to having a big project at work: you have to put in the hours, do your homework, and be really organized to get ahead, using spreadsheets, notes and maxing out your calendar.

You should have a list of referees ready to go, having already got permission from each referee, so you don’t need to send a begging email at the eleventh hour.

Liz Ryan, writing for Forbes, goes even further in taking the hunt seriously: she believes you should ‘treat your job search like a second job’. Maybe that attitude is a step too far, but you need to be serious about finding your next role; dream opportunities don’t just fall into your lap.

Set aside time each week to spend talking to recruiters and checking job boards (for average salaries and perks, as well as vacancies you like).

Reach out to peers and influencers

Don’t get complacent and assume you know all there is to know about your industry. Get curious and sign up for at least one or two industry events per month, whether in your own time or during working hours if the topic benefits your current employer.

Without telling everyone you’re looking to jump ship, you can sound out what’s going on in other companies and in the industry overall, so you feel more informed during your job hunt.

If you’re short on time, download some industry-specific or job title-specific podcasts to watch on your commute to work. For marketers, that means Copyblogger FM, which covers copywriting, content marketing and SEO; for management level, the Harvard Business Review podcast is essential listening.

Set aside some spending money

According to research from Barclays, graduates spend an average of £506 attending 3.3 interviews before obtaining a job. That money goes towards travel, accommodation, and clothing.

It pays to choose an upmarket hotel, close to your destination, and with decent sound insulation, so you have a good night’s sleep before your interview. Because of high accommodation costs, many job seekers – not just graduates – try to secure several interviews over a few days, so they don’t need to travel and stay on multiple occasions.

Even if you’re applying for local jobs, you still need to budget for travel and unforeseen expenses, like getting a taxi if there’s a problem with the trains, or buying an extra pair of tights in case the ones you’re wearing to your interview become snagged.

What’s more, if you tend to arrive sweaty and flustered to your interviews, allocate spare cash to enjoy calming drinks in a café beforehand and you’ll feel your confidence soar as you appear more composed.

Job hunting can feel like it’s taking over your life, but with these tips, you’ll have regained control and honed in on what you really want to achieve.

Polly Allen writes for Inspiring Interns, a graduate recruitment agency which also offers graduate careers advice. Find the latest graduate jobs listings via their website, and upload your video CV today.

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