Every job search has a unique ebb and flow. At times, you may have two or three interviews in a week. Other times, a week or two passes without a single call or e-mail. While frustrating, this is a normal part of the process—up to a point.
Are you feeling like the periods of inactivity are becoming longer? Has the trail of promising leads gone cold? Are you having trouble identifying opportunities that are the right fit? Are you getting interviews but having trouble closing the deal?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, it may be it is time to change your job search perspective. Here are three ideas that may help get you out of that rut and back on the path to employment:
1. Be an opportunist
Search job boards for positions within your current skillset – but perhaps not necessarily your ideal nest move – that have been open longer than 30 days (this might include positions you’ve already applied for). Next, see if you can identify the appropriate contact, develop a ‘sales pitch’ and offer your expertise on an interim basis.
This ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’ approach could land you with some additional income, an expanded network of contacts in your field, and if you are extremely fortunate and produce high-quality work, the company might decide they just can’t live without you. This is a low risk strategy, with a potential for high reward – but might not be for those who have a low threshold for rejection.
2. Change your approach
Stop thinking of your search in terms of identifying and applying for open positions. Frame your search instead by identifying organizations you’d like to work for. Identify the key contacts in your area of expertise—some you may already know through membership in a professional association, or you may have a friend or former colleague in common who can provide an introduction. Build strong, mutually beneficial networking connections by first offering to assist with a business problem. When the appropriate time comes along, you can make it known that you would be interested in working for the organization if a future need for your skill set arises.
While it’s not a short-term strategy, in the long run, you may gain a key internal contact who is willing and able to refer you when the right position opens up—thus giving you an edge over your non-referred competition.
3. Be realistic
Consider the possibility that the reason your search has not been successful is that you are not being realistic about your expertise and/or expectations. Ask yourself, ‘Am I overvaluing my skills?’ This is a difficult, but sometimes necessary, self-assessment.
Do a search online for job postings that match the position title you’re most interested in. Search the ‘requirements’ section of several postings, and create a list of the requirements that occur most frequently. Once you have done this, carefully compare the aggregated information to your own background.
Do you have the degree that you need? Do you fall within the minimum and maximum experience ranges? Have you ticked all of the boxes in terms of leadership skills? If you have, then you can feel more comfortable that you are in the right ballpark. If not, you may need to make a long-range plan for how you’ll obtain the education, skills, and experience you’re missing, and recalibrate your search in the meantime. Working with a career coach can be extremely beneficial to this process, as they can offer a non-biased assessment, and offer recommendations for you to achieve your goals.
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