Are you in the middle of your job search and feeling stuck? Are you getting interviews, seemingly progressing, but just falling short of a job offer? If this sounds familiar, we’re here to help. This is a common issue when it comes to the job search--things feel like they’re really moving, or not at all. It takes a lot of determination and perseverance to make it through the whole job search process as it is, let alone without getting frustrated or wanting to give up. We’ve all been there.
But if your job search doesn’t seem to be working, the first thing to figure out is what the real barrier to your success is. Have you been applying for the right jobs? Are you going for things that match your skills and experience? Maybe it’s that you’re not hearing back from employers at all. Some of this could be because you’re not moving in the right career direction, or it could be a personal branding issue. Whatever it is, we have some tips that will help you gain perspective, pause, and carry on better than ever.
Reassess your search method, and diversify.
Are you opening your computer each day and simply scrolling through sites like Indeed and LinkedIn searching for position titles and general company postings? Or do you have a targeted employer list guiding your job search efforts? If not, this may be a big problem. Taking the time to map out your desires, companies, brands, or projects you love, as well as potential titles and roles that match your experiences and skills is a huge push in the right direction. But the lack of this structure could be what’s been holding you back. Creating a target employer list or list of companies you’d want to work for will prevent your job search from being totally dictated by search engine results.
Even if you look up openings at every company on your list to no avail, plenty of companies and hiring managers who don’t currently have listings out would be happy to talk with you about your needs and goals. It will likely be an added bonus for them when they see you took the initiative to reach out and start a conversation. Informational interviews can actually end up being just as fruitful as job interviews, and if nothing else, that company or manager is sure to remember your name, your face, and your initiative despite the lack of a job opening.
Recruiter Jorge Batista’s advice is to take a day off if you’re feeling particularly frustrated. “I found when I was looking for work that taking a day or even part of the day off will help you become focused and ready to take on the job of getting a job. I found taking a breath helped me and whenever I did that I found that it felt like I gained focus and it always led to great leads,” Jorge says.
Make sure you’re networking, and having conversations with people you admire.
The job search process shouldn’t just be perfecting your resume, writing cover letters, submitting applications, and reaching out to people online. In person networking is important too. Are you looking up events in your space or industry that you could be attending? Are you asking your connections on LinkedIn to coffee or lunch to catch up? Research shows that about 85% of jobs are secured through smart networking.
All of these methods and more could be helping you to push your job search further. Sending your resume to colleagues, friends, and others for advice or workshopping is useful. And sometimes, the most helpful thing is just letting people around you know you’re looking. Perhaps you know someone at work or at another company who knows about a job opening you might not otherwise find. The key is communicating. Good networking is also about human connection--don’t go to someone saying, “I need help finding a job.” Rather, strike up a conversation, listen to their needs, see if you can solve a problem for them, and create or strengthen a relationship.
Hilary Andreini, a career coach and recruiter for Elysian, says that reframing a job search in your mind as a way to gather information, and meet and connect with new people can be helpful, too. “Have fun with it. Humans are social beings and like to have fun. Embrace those characteristics and figure out a way to enjoy it,” she says, adding that, “Job searching is serious business but you can find ways that to have fun or meet another social need you have. If you are relaxed and not so focused on what is it in for you, people will relax and want to engage in conversation with you.”
People hire and refer people they like, who also show initiative. If you’re having trouble networking and reaching out on your own, working with recruiters can also be a great window or door into the industry or role you’re trying to move into.
Finally...Ask yourself the tough questions.
If you’ve been feeling stuck, there’s a possibility that you also haven’t been completely honest with yourself. Are you looking for and applying for jobs you really want? Or are you doing what’s comfortable and makes the most sense? Of course, not everyone has the option to choose passion over convenience, but it’s important to reflect and ask yourself these questions.
- Am I doing what I’m meant to be doing? Am I applying to jobs that are right for me, or just what’s easy and seems like what I should be doing?
- Does finding another job in this field require something that I haven’t done yet? For example, a move? Taking a lateral position (maybe even with a pay cut) because it will mean developing a new skill set that offers more room for growth? A change in focus?
- Have I asked someone I know/like/trust for their honest feedback about how I’m presenting myself in my job search? Have I asked for feedback from hiring managers after interviews for jobs that I haven’t been offered?
And if you have the ability, working with a career coach might be the next best step. Or, if you seem be getting interviews but continually fall short of a job offer, recruiter and founder of Elysian Jessica Ozrek, says you might want to think about how you sell yourself through your resume and in interviews.
She says it’s important to remember that “A lot of the times the talent is up against another strong candidate and for whatever reason, they get the job. It’s important to know what your expertise is because companies want to hire experts.” Overall, it’s most important to remember that he interview process is not done until you have a signed offer letter. During the process, Jessica says you can continue to “show interest, be on your A-game and come with questions and having done your research.”
However, if you feel that you’ve already “got the job” and start slacking off throughout the interview process, “someone else could come in and get the job.”
Now that you’re thinking about what’s not working, how can you ultimately succeed in your job search efforts? You’ll need clearly defined goals, the willingness to invest time, energy, and maybe even some money, and the drive and motivation to keep going. None of this is easy, but it will be worth it!
Whatever stage you’re in, we believe you can do this! If you feel stuck, scroll through the rest of our posts for insight. You never know what you might find.
All the best