Feeling Stuck in Your Search? 3 Ways to Get Going Again.

Does it feel like your job search is stalled? Here’s how to move forward.

We’ve all been there at some point: you’ve been job searching for a while and nothing has panned out. You’ve shared your story more times than you can count, you’ve memorized every word on your resume, and you’ve networked with everyone you can think of.

Let’s face it, the job search can be hard. It’s tough on your confidence. It saps your motivation. It’s really hard to keep going in the face of rejection, and some days you just don’t want to do it. And that’s ok. Give yourself a day off to clear your mind, and then come back and get ready to jump back in. You may feel like you’ve come to the end of the road, but there is always another road.

In addition to taking a quick breather, there are 3 important things to do when you’ve come to a crossroads in your search:

1. Take an honest look at what’s been going well and what hasn’t
If it’s been about 90 days and you’re not seeing the results you want, it’s time to revisit your strategy (or create one) based on what you’ve learned so far. Some questions to reflect on:

  • What organizations and people have been most interesting and helpful so far in your search? What’s gotten you most excited? This is where you should be focusing your time and energy moving forward.  
  • Are your criteria and “must-haves” in a new role realistic based on what you’ve learned so far? If not, it’s time to rethink the types of roles you’re targeting.  
  • Are you working smart and using your time effectively? Putting yourself out there to network and taking some risks? If not, you should revisit your process and approach and make sure you have specific and attainable goals for your search.
  • Where in the process do you feel like you’re getting stuck? Is it figuring out what you want to do? Getting invited to interviews? Making it through the interview process? Identifying the specific point where you’re struggling will help you focus.

2. Find sources of feedback and accountability
Accountability is a critical factor in achieving your goals, and it’s very hard to achieve solo. And job searching can be a very lonely and isolating process if you don’t find others who are going through the same experience. Other people can also give you extremely valuable feedback and an objective perspective about your strengths and your search that you can’t see for yourself. There are a variety of ways to team up with others who will keep you accountable:  

  • Join or start an informal job search group: recruit friends who are also job searching to start a group together, or search Meetup or Facebook to find existing groups – you’ll be surprised to see how many already exist!
  • Attend job search classes or workshops: many community organizations including state and local government, public libraries, and nonprofits such as Goodwill offer free or low cost job search workshops, and you can also try your university’s career center or local alumni club. In addition to learning some new tips, you’ll meet other job searchers and expand your network.
  • Work with a coach: even one or two sessions with a coach can sometimes be enough to help you identify what’s tripping you up and how to fix it. While it is an investment to hire a coach, it will be well worth it if it helps you get a job months faster than you would on your own. Many career coaches also run group coaching programs which are more accessible to job searchers on a budget.

3. Brainstorm new pathways to the job you want
When you’re feeling stuck, it often takes just a few small wins to create the momentum you need to get going again. If you’re clear on what you want to do but it hasn’t worked out so far, it’s time to think about new ways to reach your goal. A few things to try:

  • Extend your network: even if you’ve been networking like crazy, there are always more people to talk to, and one of them will be the key to landing your next role. If you feel like you’ve run out of ideas, try a network mapping activity to brainstorm new people to talk to. Go back to your notes from old conversations and follow up with any suggested contacts you haven’t gotten in touch with yet. Search LinkedIn for people with the job titles or experience you want, and ask them to meet with you.
  • Explore projects or short-term work in your field: pitch a project idea to an organization you’re interested in, offer to volunteer on a short-term basis, or search for relevant projects through sites like LinkedIn or VolunteerMatch. Investing in some part-time work will build your skills and network and give you some great conversation topics for those interviews you’ll be landing soon. It also helps build your confidence and forces you to manage your time more effectively.

Finally, remember that job searching is hard, and give yourself credit for all the work and effort you’re putting in. Try some of the strategies above and keep at it – it will pay off!

Ready to jumpstart your job search this fall? I’ll be offering a Job Search Bootcamp group coaching program and fall workshop series starting in September. Click here to learn more!

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