Personal Kanban for Your Job Hunt

One of the problems with a job hunt is that it's a big and complex project. You need to decide what to do and when. Who do you interview with? Is it time to iterate on your resume? Do you have enough references? Are you networking “right”? Add to that problem is that your emotional well-being is affected with your search—well, it's a recipe for low self esteem, emotional shaking, rattling, and rolling.

A job search/job hunt is tough. One way to manage this complex project is to use a project management approach that fits the problem. The best way I know is to use personal kanban. Personal kanban allows you to take everything out of your head, get it down on stickies so you have the transparency, and then see it move across the board to see it get to done. You have a way to limit the work in progress, and a way to corral those call-backs with the PEN.

Personal Kanban in a Notebook
Initial Blank Personal Kanban in a Notebook

As you can see in this image, it's a simple system to start. Here, I've used a notebook, drawn a few lines, and voila! I have a personal kanban. No muss, no fuss. Yes, it's great if you can use a wall or a refrigerator or a flip chart because those are larger surfaces. But, if you can only manage a notebook, you can still use a personal kanban.

One of my Manage Your Job Search readers has even used a file folder. He unfolded it, and drew the lines and is using small stickies. My eyes are not good enough anymore for that, but his are.

Now, when you start adding your todos, you add stickies in the Ready column on the left. (I explain how to do this in the book.) As you work on them, you move them to the In Progress column. When you complete them, you move them to Done.

If you have call-backs, you move them to the PEN, where you corral them. I suggest you create a WIP (Work In Progress) limit for the PEN. Otherwise, you can imagine that you have all these potential call-backs (job leads), when the reality is different.

In Manage Your Job Search, I recommend you plan and execute your job search project in one-week iterations so you can retrospect every week. If you reflect that often, you have a chance to change what you are doing. You can iterate on your resume. You can decide if your activity on LinkedIn is adequate or not. You can rethink your networking online or in-person. You have options.

Personal kanban might not help you get a job faster. It will help you organize a job and provide you the transparency to see where you are with your job search. That's the first step.

6 Replies to “Personal Kanban for Your Job Hunt”

  1. Thanks for sharing the post.

    I liked the article and I will practice to use it in every day life.
    What is fullform of PEN ?

    1. The PEN is the place you corral the call-backs, the incomplete tasks you started but could not complete because you were waiting on someone else. Does that answer your question?

  2. since we are after all technical people, I like the online implementation of a kanban board,

    Since it is freemium software, I’d hope to be done with the job search before getting charged.. though at my age, that’s not certain 😉

    1. Doug, In the book I recommend you start with paper stickies until you get the hang of personal kanban. If you are an old hand at kanban, sure, use a tool.

      In my experience, people who start with a tool, do not experience the same “aha” moment as people who use stickies. They have a more difficult time understanding how to decide which sticky to do first, second, and third. Of course, with all things, your mileage may vary.

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