How To Fit The Job Search Into Your Full-Time Work Schedule

Written by Emilie Brunet

When students graduate from our bootcamp, we tell them that they need to approach their job search like it’s their job.

What we mean by this is that in order to get hired quickly, you really need to dedicate a lot of time and energy to the job search. You need to be organized, take it seriously and not approach it half-assed. For our full-time students, we tell them to imagine that applying for work is a full-time job or a continuation of their full-time bootcamp.

And this is all fine and dandy for those who can dedicate this time.

But what about people who do not have the ability to quit their current full-time job to search for a new job?

What about people who have kids or other full-time responsibilities? What approach exists for people who work 9am to 5pm and have to apply to work in the evenings and on the weekends?

Let’s dive into it.

Accept that it will take longer

This might be a frustrating thing to read, but if you aren’t in a position to be treating your job search like a full-time job, then it will take longer. If all you have is 2-3 hours a week to dedicate to your job search as opposed to 40 hours a week, then you will have to be more organized in your approach and accept that it might not happen as quickly as you’d like.

This isn’t a way of bumming you out or telling you to give up, but it’s to help you set realistic expectations and plan accordingly in order to avoid feeling frustrated throughout the course of your search.

Make a plan

There are plenty of steps that need to be taken when applying for work, to name a few:

It’s a long list and it can feel very daunting, so before you try to start tackling each item, take the time to look at your calendar and see what kind of space you have to dedicate to this and when you can start.

You need to know how much time you can commit to your search per week to help you set realistic expectations and plan accordingly.

Start blocking off a chunk of time in your calendar on a weekly basis to focus on your job search. Treat it as you would if it was anything else on your calendar (doctor’s appointment, spin class, night out with friends, etc). Make a point to sit down at that time and dedicate it wholly to your hunt.

Prepare your systems

It might feel frustrating to spend so much time “prepping” for applying to jobs when you could be using that time to actually apply to jobs. But planning properly will allow you to show up to the job search overall more efficiently. Setting up these systems means that in the future, when you’re looking for another job again, you won’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Before you even begin looking at job boards, take the time to prepare the following:

Start by simply exploring

Now that you’ve got your systems geared up and ready, you might think it’s time to jump into CV writing. But before getting there, start by taking the time to really explore the job market.

What kind of role are you actually looking for? What are you qualified for? What kind of companies do you want to work for?

Start going through job boards and looking at job descriptions related to your field. Consider your overall career strategy, where you want to grow and develop and what kind of roles will help you get there. Think about what companies you like, your current strengths, what kind of work you enjoy doing and what kind of work you are good at.

In this time, you’ll want to start using your “companies to work for” sheet and jot down the names of companies you’d want to work for. You’ll also jot down job titles that align with your skills and interests and what are frequent responsibilities, tasks, qualifications and keywords that show up in their job descriptions.

Creating your resume and cover letter templates

I use the term “template” here to highlight the fact that one of the most important parts of job applications is customizing your resume and cover letter to fit the job you are applying for.

This is honestly one of the most tedious but most important tasks you’ll do when you’re applying for jobs.

When crafting your resume template, be sure to refer to your list of “responsibilities, tasks and keywords” as outlined above and craft your resume in a way that highlights how you’ve done similar things in your career so far.

As for your cover letter, create a framework for how you will write it. A simple Google search of “Cover Letter Template” brings up hundreds of results. Be sure to write the template in a way that allows you to customize it easily for various positions.

You might find this blog helpful in crafting your resume: 6 Things You Can Do To Move Your CV To The Top Of The Pile

Applying and Tracking your applications

Once you have your resume and cover letter template put together, you can start referring to your previously collected job boards and company list and start applying for positions.

When applying for positions, take a look at the job description and adjust your CV and cover letter to better reflect how your experience ties directly into what the position entails.

Keep track of where you’ve applied, when you applied, and what CV and cover letter you submitted. Be sure to include the links of the job description itself, the application closing date if there is one (so you’ll know when to follow up), and any information you can find on the company. Tracking all of this will make it easier when following up on your application as well as if you get invited to an interview.

Continued Learning, Networking and Follow Ups

Integrated in your weekly job search time, you need to keep in mind the importance of keeping up with your skill development, networking and following up with companies you’ve applied to.

Follow ups

When you’re applying for jobs, timeliness is key.

If someone sends you an email about your application, being ready and able to respond quickly to book an interview is really important. Keep your email notifications on or if that’s not possible check your emails regularly to ensure that you don’t miss any messages from potential employers.

Just because you only have 2-3 hours per week to dedicate to the job search, doesn’t mean you’re going to ignore an email from a potential employer because you didn’t receive it in your “dedicated job search time”.

Continuing Education

In addition to that, it’s important to keep up to date with your learning and skill development especially if you’re currently working in an industry different from one you’d like to work in.

Figure out how you can continue with your skill development, maybe it means swapping out a weekly social hangout to dedicating an additional evening in your week to work on your continuing education (remember, it’s not forever, it’s just while you’re searching for work!)


While part of networking is online, such as through LinkedIn, another huge part of networking is heading to actual events and communicating with people about the fact that you’re looking for another job.

Mention your search to neighbours, friends and family. When attending social hangouts, if you meet new people, find a way to mention that you’re looking for new work. It doesn’t need to be weird or push-y, but getting the word out there to as many people as possible increases your chances of finding work.

While going to networking events might be harder when you’re already working full-time, attending networking events in the evening or integrating networking events into your social life might be an option. Do you have plans to meet up with a friend? Ask them if they want to head to a 5 à 7 networking event in your area.

Job Interviews

This is probably the hardest part of coordinating your schedule. If you already work 9am to 5pm, attending job interviews for another 9am to 5pm job can be tough.

While I know it’s common for people to interview for other jobs during their work hours (by claiming you’re heading to a doctor’s appointment lol) just be careful. You don’t want to take any risk that could result in you losing your current position prior to being hired in a new one.

See if you can schedule job interviews during your lunch break. If there is an option for you to work 8am to 4pm one day, you can try to arrange your interview so it’s after work. When asked for an interview, be clear with the interviewer about your schedule and the fact that you’re currently working full-time. Most of the time, hiring managers are accommodating, they know you might be working another 9-5!

About the author

Hey, I'm Emilie 👋🏻

I'm the People & Culture Manager at Journey Education. I have always had a passion for writing, organization and finding creative solutions. I aim to be personable, empathetic and compassionate and believe that kindness can go along way in both business and life.

Having worked and organized with anti-capitalist, feminist and queer organizations, I strongly believe that EVERYONE deserves, not just a living wage, but a thriving wage and that it should be the priority of every business to create an inclusive, caring and diverse work environment that doesn't just ensures the work happens, but allows people to be people while the work is happening!

My approach to everything I do reflects my training in trauma-informed practices, active listening and harm reduction as well as my interest in understand the way people work, behave and exist as their full human self. I want to create safer spaces for people to explore, create and excel in a supportive environment - whether that's in life or at work.