What To Do When Your Job Search Isn’t Working

What to do when your job search isn't working

If your job search is taking longer than you originally thought, you’re not alone.

Richard Bolles, author of the infamous What Color Is Your Parachute, briefly address this trend in his book, pointing out that since 2008, “30% of all unemployed persons in the US spent- and are still spending- more than a year looking for work.

He notes that before 2008, “that figure was just 10%.”

The folks that I work with tend to need about 6-9 months to make a change once we start working together, though some clients have landed new work in as little as a two weeks.

The bad news is that it can take a lot longer than you might guess to land your next job (even if you’re currently employed.)

The good news is that it’s not your fault. It’s probably not you, but rather a reflection of the market right now.

That might not help you feel any better if you’re really looking to make a big change.

But it is really important to know that so much of the frustration involved in a job search really doesn’t have much to do with you. There are much larger forces at work.

There are a lot of ways to stage an intervention for a failing job search. Here are some of my go to strategies for clients that are struggling.

Take a break from the job search.

I truly believe that this is one of the most important things that you can do while on a long job search: take care of yourself. This means not spending every free moment scouring the internet for job postings.

Being in the wrong job is stressful and exhausting. And I know what it’s like to really need to make more money so I don’t want to minimize that feeling at all.

Taking a break is really about giving yourself permission to do other things that you enjoy, that restore your energy, and that relax you. Honestly, these activities will give you more energy and to tackle your job search.

Be honest with yourself about the obstacles in your job search.

Take a step back and try to assess what’s working and what’s not working.

  • Have you really been applying for jobs…or have you been looking at job postings?
  • Have you gotten a lot of interviews, but not a lot of call backs?
  • Have you not gotten any interviews?

Each one of these is a different kind of problem that requires a different kind of intervention.

If you’re truly procrastinating on applying for jobs, spend some time thinking about why.

Do you feel unprepared to apply for jobs in a new field? Not finding anything that feels like a great fit? What’s getting in your way? Are you afraid your next job will be as stressful as your current one?

When I work with clients, sometimes we need to make strategic changes to their resume and cover letter.But often we have to spend some time shifting their energy and mindset about work, too. If you’re not applying for any jobs (or very few), and you’re feeling really ambivalent about your work and career, you’d probably benefit from Career Audit + Strategy Session. In these sessions, we can figure out what’s not working and create a path forward for you to explore your options further.

Change up your job search strategies.

Applying for jobs online is not your only option. Truly.

Employ your friends and family in your job search. Let them know what you’re looking for and ask them to keep an eye out for anything that might be a good fit.

I also recommend meeting new people and building new relationships. This doesn’t have to happen at networking events! Try and be social and be open to receiving support from your network and even from your network’s network.

This can be really useful for everyone, of course, but it can be super helpful for folks who are looking to break into a new field.

Think of it this way: if you’re a corporate accountant, but you are looking to make a big career transition to non-profit work, it is much easier to get in front of the right people and chat about your skills and your desire for a new field through networking.

The bottom line is this: relationships matter more than resumes.

You might have to look like a great fit on paper to land an interview, but you don’t need to be a perfect fit to have a friend or colleague facilitate an introduction.

Ask for an informational interview

If you’re not getting much in the way of feedback from places that you’re applying to, why not see if Human Resources or a hiring manager will chat with you about scheduling an informational interview?

These opportunities can give you a sense of what they’re looking for.

Pay attention for skills, experiences, and attributes that are important to them (and then, of course, make sure you re-craft all future resumes and cover letters accordingly!). This can be a great strategy if you’re looking to break into a new field and/or you want to work at a specific organization.

This kind of interview isn’t about you selling yourself. It’s about asking for feedback and advice, building a relationship, and providing insights for your career transitions.

Be happy now — wherever you are in your job search.

This is way easier said than done but hear me out on this.

If you’re really looking for fulfillment, you don’t have to wait for your next job. You can volunteer, paint, write and find ways to challenge yourself now.

Or if you want to take the next step in your industry, start a blog or host your own networking event to demonstrate leadership.

Need to make more money? Consider taking a part time job or freelancing so that you can relieve yourself of the pressure to find a job that pays more.

If you want to leave the corporate world for something more creative or purpose driven, find ways to do that now.

You don’t need a job to find satisfaction or to pursue interesting work!

There are so many ways you can keep learning and growing and providing value to the world.

If there is something you want to be doing, try to find a way to do it now, even if it’s in a small way.

Resources for your job search

If you need a little structure for your job search, you’re in luck.

I’ve created a totally free workshop designed to help you structure a job search, set reasonable goals and launch a strategic job search. You can check out Job Search Like a Boss to help you get started.



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