What to do when your job search isn’t working

Job searching is hard. We have all been in that situation where there is seemingly nothing to apply for. And when you do find a job to apply for, you are often competing with many other people with only one job to fill.

It can be an isolating and discouraging experience. Especially when you are told “you were not successful to the next round” or you don’t hear from the recruiter at all. Sometimes you can get so frustrated and tired of rejection that you just want to give up. Or worse – with your motivation waning you start chucking resumes or put less effort into the application process – often hurting your chances for landing that job even more.

Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.

– Joshua J Marine

At a breakfast event I attended last week Michelle Bridges, best known as a Personal Trainer on The Biggest Loser, shared the story of how she found her inner brand.  She was talking about starting her own business, but I think the same lessons apply to job searching. She posed these questions to the audience:

• What do I stand for?

• How do I want to be known?

• What is my unique message?

• Who am I trying to talk to?

Her last point was headlined ‘A Voice’, knowing that you have one and making yourself heard. This can often be easier said than done but it does take persistence. When we look at celebrities like Michelle Bridges we often think, ‘easy for you to say’ or we can often assume that they have the perfect life. But do you think she didn’t get to where she was today without being pushed back or rejected?

Michelle grew up with the mentality that she could be anything that she wanted to be, and she didn’t walk away the moment she was rejected, especially when it came to something she was passionate about. She would go back again and again if necessary. And when it came to set-backs, she posed the following questions:

• What part of me am I not backing?

• Who can I call, email today? Further to that, are you following up after the initial point of contact has been made?

• Who is holding you back?

• Cut the saboteurs – Eliminate those factors that put you down or that aren’t helping you go forward. This can also include people in your life that are putting you down more than encouraging you.

• New medium, different approach, fresh – Are you finding that your current job search  work isn’t working? Have you tried a new approach, asked for advice or tried to look at your approach through a fresh set of eyes?

Once you have reflected on what is most important to you and looked at what is holding you back, now is the time to just do it. Action breeds more action, and helps you to keep motivated. Here are some ways you can start making things happen in your job search:

• List your positives. Make a list of all the things you like about yourself, including skills, personality traits, accomplishments, and successes. Write down projects you’re proud of, situations where you excelled, and things you’re good at. Revisit this list often to remind yourself of your strengths. This will also be very helpful for when you are in that job interview and they ask what your strengths are?

• Keep a regular daily routine. When you no longer have a job you can easily lose motivation. Treat your job search like a job, with a daily “start” and “end” time. Following a set schedule will help you be more efficient and productive. And even more importantly, just like at work, give yourself break times. Schedule coffee catch-ups with friends, go for walks, or schedule time to do things that you really enjoy. You will be much more productive in your job search when you schedule breaks and give yourself a daily routine.

• Create a job search plan. Instead of trying to do everything at once, set priorities or specific actions for your day. If you’re not having luck in your job search, take some time to rethink your actions. Does your resume need to be re-developed? Who in your network knows people that could help you? How many job applications have you followed up?

• Volunteer. Unemployment can wear on your self-esteem and make you feel useless. Volunteering helps you maintain a sense of value and purpose. And helping others is an instantaneous mood booster. Volunteering can also provide career experience, social support, and networking opportunities. Could you help at your local school, not-for-profit or church?

• Focus on the things you can control. You can’t control how quickly a potential employer calls you back or whether or not they decide to hire you. Rather than wasting your precious energy on things that are out of your hands, turn your attention to things you can control, such as writing a great cover letter and resume tailored to the company you want to work for and setting up meetings with your networking contacts or calling to follow up a job application.

So take action and start making changes if you are not seeing results, you will end up thanking yourself for it. And as Michelle Bridges finished off, ‘Be brave, be courageous, be inspired – today!’

Any advice that you have for jobseekers out there? Or if you are one, have you been to our Job Search page of our website?