cropped JHACareerslogo web

Losing Faith During Search

Dear Career Tips:
Losing Faith During Search

From Career Tips, 2018 Volume 4, April 2018

How do you keep yourself upbeat and motivated during a job search?

I have been actively looking for 4 months. Most possibilities are for contract work without any updates or feedback. I found several possible fulltime roles, and thought I should be working by next month:

  1. I was told I was not the exact fit, but this is the exact position I had before.
  2. The manager gave my possible mid-level position to the person applying for a more senior position, because that person does not have leadership skills.
  3. The company decided to hire another applicant.
  4. The position was put on hold.
  5. I got an offer from the manager, but the recruiter left early twice when I agreed to come in to sign the papers. I contacted the manager, and he never returned my call.

I am burnt out, tired and frustrated. So how do you keep yourself positive and keep applying daily?

Dear Losing Faith:
First, it’s not unusual for a search to take much more than 4 months. Second, it sounds like you’ve had a lot of activity during those 4 months. So you can take heart from that.

That said, the number of times you’ve been turned down starts to sound like perhaps there is something going wrong:

  • Are you applying for the right jobs; only for ones where you are a good fit?
  • Do you have a strong story for why you would be an outstanding candidate for that job?
  • Do you have a long list (20 or more) of concise, compelling, results-oriented accomplishment stories to draw upon in interviews?
  • Are you working a story seamlessly into virtually every answer you give?
  • Are you keeping your answers concise, focusing heavily on challenges overcome and results achieved, while leaving the granular details of all the actions you took for when the interviewer says “tell me more”?
  • Are you asking lots of questions throughout the interview, and not saving them up for the end?
  • Are you successfully unearthing and exploring deeply the challenges they face?

    I do see a red flag in your last question, about applying daily for jobs. If most of your time is spent applying for known openings, you will likely have a very long search.

    Everyone knows about posted openings, and you are attempting to compete head-to-head with all of them. Plus a large percentage of jobs never get posted, so that you would miss out on those.

    In fact, one job seeker told me of his 2 year job search, in which he sent out 2600 résumés to get just 15 actual interviews. And the job he ultimately landed was one at which he had an internal contact. One can only wonder how much more quickly he would have landed had he invested that time and effort into the most effective use of his network.

    The vast majority of your time is best spent in arranging and conducting face to face meetings (not just interviews). You want to get well-known in your target area so that you are at the top of the list when openings arise, ideally before they ever make it to a posting. For more on this, see:

    Why Bother Networking?