Have you been unemployed and job hunting longer than you’d care to admit? If so, it’s time to stop, look, and listen to what you’ve been doing—and most likely make some changes. But first, there are some emotional issues to address.
Your emotions probably range from denial to anger and frustration to sadness and depression. Actually, sometimes you may feel all of these things at the same time. That’s OK—these emotions are real and normal, and they come with the territory of losing something. You’ve lost a job, probably due to no fault of your own. You’ve lost co-workers and friends. You’ve lost routine and stability and financial security. You’ve lost your professional identity. Or, maybe you graduated from school months ago, and you’ve lost your classmates and found you’re still looking for a professional identity.
But while these emotions are normal, don’t let them stop you. You will find something else, but you must keep moving. And when you feel like you can’t face one more day of job hunting, here’s what to do:
Stop what you are doing. Take time to reflect on who you really are and what you want out of life.
Use a journal, spreadsheet, or napkin—whatever works best for you—and begin writing down your values and what you love in life. This is the foundation for moving forward. If you were pursuing something you were really excited about, wouldn’t that re-energize you?
My all-time favorite saying is, “If your phone isn’t ringing, then what you are doing isn’t working.” With this in mind, let’s try and figure out why your phone isn’t ringing and what you can do about it.
If you were sick and went to the doctor, the doctor would ask you a battery of questions. So if you’re in a stalled job search, it’s time to do the same! Take a step back and look at your search. Keep a log of your time and activities for one week, and then review them. Seeing your job search in black and white can help you diagnose the problem.
- How many job offers have you had?
- How many second interviews have you had?
- How many interviews have you had since you started your job search?
- How many times have you been called on the phone (screened) as a result of submitting for a job?
Job Search Activity Assessment
- How many jobs have you applied for since you started your search?
- How many inside connections have you found for jobs you applied to?
- How many job applications have you followed up on?
- Besides the job boards, where are you finding job leads?
- How many recruiters (those not employed within a hiring company) have contacted you?
- How many recruiters have you submitted your resume to?
Outreach and Awareness
- How many new people did you meet last week?
- How many of those new people have you followed up with (sent a thank-you note or connected with on LinkedIn)?
- How many people did you re-connect with last week (past colleagues, people within your network)?
- How many professional association meetings or group events (with employed people) have you attended in the last month?
- Do you have an email signature (with phone number, desired job title or key skills, and links to social profiles or a website)?
- Do you have a LinkedIn profile that is 100% complete, and are you actively using it to connect with people?
- Are you actively using Google+, Twitter, and Facebook?
- Do you have a personal website or blog?
Once you’ve done your own analysis, set up meetings with people you trust and value—your friends, family, pastor, ex-boss, past colleagues, and anyone else who might be helpful—and seek their advice. Ask, “What would you do next if you were me?” or “Who do you think I should speak with to learn more about my profession?” Take notes. And most importantly, listen.
If you are thinking, I can’t do this, I’ve already done this, I don’t have anyone I can talk to, This won’t work for me, then you are right, it won’t. Try it anyway.
Take Care of You
When you travel on an airplane, the flight attendants walk you through the safety guidelines. They say: “Place the oxygen mask over your nose and mouth first so that you may better assist those around you.”
These safety guidelines apply to you, too. When you’re obsessed with your job search, it can be easy to forget about the rest of your life. But taking care of yourself is a big part of making sure you’re operating at your best—and that’s what’s going to land you the job.
So, remember the basics: Get enough sleep, eat well, and exercise. Participate in activities you enjoy—hobbies, volunteering, community groups, whatever. And most importantly, don’t go at this alone. Find support and team up with others who are in the same boat. Believe me, they’re out there.
Looking for a new gig? Check out these companies that are hiring now!