What To Do When Your Job Search Is Not Working

There are plenty of smart, successful people who struggle with finding jobs and/or a satisfying career. Why is this? Many times, they don’t know how to look for work. Most people have never been taught how to find a new job. So they do the things that they “think” they should do — applying for positions online, posting their résumé on job boards, and even creating a LinkedIn profile (even if they’re not sure what to do with it). But when they don’t get the results they want, they get stuck. With no immediate results, it’s easy to get frustrated. Many times, they won’t hear anything back at all from their applications, so they’re not sure how to move forward. job search

Before we look at the reasons why you might be lost or stuck, ask yourself some “bigger picture” questions:

  • Am I doing what I’m meant to be doing? (Is the work I’m doing the “right job” or is it just “a job”?)
  • Do I have the skills, experience, and/or qualifications necessary for the jobs I’m pursuing (if I’m being really honest with myself)?
  • Have I conducted informational interviews to really understand the needs of employers for the types of jobs I’m pursuing — and to make new connections?
  • Is there another way I can use my skills? (Making a change doesn’t always require going back to school or making a “big” change. It can simply mean using your skills in a new or different way.)
  • 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?
  • Am I really doing the “work” of conducting a job search, or am I just doing things that are “easy” or “comfortable” for me?

People who are most successful in finding — and landing — the job they want have several things in common:

  1. Clearly defined goals — and the ability to research how to accomplish those goals. This includes identifying companies you’re interested in working for, potential job titles, contact information for people in the position to hire you (or connect you to the hiring manager), and knowledge of the company.
  2. The willingness to invest time, energy, and money in their job search. This includes a strong resume and other career communication documents, the right interview attire, career assessments, coaching to improve skills necessary for success in the job search (i.e., interview preparation, salary negotiation), etc.
  3. The ability to document specific achievements and accomplishments in their education, work experience, and/or volunteer work.

If your job search isn’t working, it’s time to do something different. Treat your job search as a project, with defined objectives, an action plan, and a timeline. Ask someone you trust (a spouse, friend, another job seeker, or a career coach or counselor) to be your accountability partner — someone who will support, encourage, and motivate you in your job search.

The first step is to figure out where you’re stuck. There are several areas where you might be having difficulty. Check back next month for the first area we will explore:

Don’t Know What You Want? Stop and Engage in Self-Examination.



Note: This blog post only touches on certain aspects of this topic and is not a comprehensive list. This blog post is an educational and informational resource for job seekers and is not a substitute for working with a resume writer or other professional. See our Terms and Conditions for additional information.

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