Job Search Stalled? Here’s 6 Ways to Get Back on Track

stuck1During a job search, many things can cause frustration and a loss of motivation. At some point, nearly everyone wants to give up.

Most of those obstacles, though, are avoidable. Below are some job search tactics that, once you master them, greatly increase your chances of staying motivated… and will help you get that dream job.

1. Stop Applying, Start Targeting

Many recent grads and young adults love the online job search. For many, the act of applying for jobs online is a transaction that makes them feel good because they got something done… they get to cross something off the to-do list. But rarely does all that time and effort result in a job offer.

The fact is that if you don’t have a diverse job search strategy, including a list of target employers, you are wasting a whole bunch of time. And, you’re creating a lot of frustration. Because when you “apply” you have no control over the process. You spend hours completing applications, only to have them go into the ATS black hole. And then… you never hear back.

When you do the research and compose a list of target employers, however, you have more control. You decide who you reach out to, ask for informational interviews, connected with. You control what alumni you contact, the blogs you read and even who you cold call, if that’s your cup of tea.

Apply = no control.
Target = lots of control.

Chances are your strategy right now is “apply away.” How’s that working for you? Maybe it’s time to try another way.

2. Know Thyself

Too many job seekers make the mistake of applying for a job wherein a key performance requirement is not a core strength. In the long run, they feel, they could learn that critical skill… they could make it work. But employers today are looking for someone who walk in and do the job, right now. A job seeker willing to stretch outside their core skills only adds to their frustration; they will not hear back from the employer.

In all cases, you must follow one of the key rules of job search:

First, know thyself!

I have all my clients do one assessment: StrengthsFinder 2.0. You can buy the book or take the test only online for ten bucks. Go here to do that. Why do I like this assessment?

  • First, it’s all about you and what you are innately wired to be good at.
  • Secondly, it helps us create your value propositionbecause likely you already have evidence of how you used these strengths, and, how they will help a future employer.
  • Finally, it gives you words you can use to describe yourself and how you’ll be an effective employee.

When you know yourself, you can figure out what kind of jobs are the best match for you and which employers need what you offer. Now, you’re cooking up a strategy!

3. Research. Research. Research.

I know this has become a cliche, but the most overlooked – and undervalued – part of your job search is…research.

If you think about it, your job search is a marketing project wherein you are going to identify the perfect customer (employer) for your services, pursue them, and get them to hire you. It’s hard to do that with no research on:

  • The market you want to work in
  • The employers who need what you have
  • The kinds of jobs you should be applying for

I recommend you give yourself dedicated time to immerse yourself in the research of your job search before you start submitting job applications. For example, do a keyword search on LinkedIn using some of your strengths. See what kinds of jobs are looking for those talents. Review, literally, hundreds of job postings and profiles of others.

Start composing a picture of the direction in which you’d like to go. Now, combined with your assessment results and the value proposition generated, you can further develop your strategy with intense focus on best fit for you, and the employer.

4. Play the Insider Game Like a Pro: Become a Referral

While some industries and companies depend more on employee recommendations than others, it’s no surprise that many jobs are placed through referrals. And to get any attention in the referral market, you have to become part of the internal conversations; you must network with those inside the circle!

Once you have your employer target list, identify the people already employed at those target companies or at tangential companies or with influential roles. Use informational interviews to learn about the work, show off your stuff, and get more information on how to get a hiring manager’s attention.

Use LinkedIn’s amazing alumni connection feature to connect instantly with alumni in industries, jobs, or companies that are in your search targets. Get fearless about asking for connections (having a good business case for connecting, of course) and then follow up like a pro. You’ll be acing the insider game in no time!

5. Design Marketing Materials that Work for You

Your resume is not a list of tasks you’ve done in other jobs; rather your resume should be a demonstration of evidence that you have the capacity to do a future job. Instead of listing tasks, focus on accomplishments. Quantify results you’ve accomplished or work you’ve completed. Use keywords to speak to the employer in their own terms.

Two no-no’s I see all the time:

  1. In nearly all cases, you should not put an objective statement at the top of your resume. Instead, you should have some kind of professional introduction, a “Summary of Skills” for instance written specifically for the employer.
  2. I know you just invested big bucks in your education, but don’t list it at the top unless it’s super-essential to the job, e.g. engineering, sciences, or graduate degrees where it would be critical. That’s valuable real estate. Use it to send your key messages!

Of course, you can learn all about this in The Resume Coloring Book, which will help you write a better resume and learn about why you’re doing it.

6. Stop Treating the Interview Like a Q&A Session

What is the key to good job interview? Moving the typical “Interviewer Asks, Candidate Answers… Rinse and Repeat” scenario to a mutually-beneficial conversation with near-equal contributions.

Bring up your ideas about how they could better their strategy. When the conversation strays a bit, bring the focus back on your attributes and be ready with specific examples about why those attributes make you a great candidate.

When you turn the interview from a vertical Q&A session to a horizontal conversation, metaphorically speaking, you’re better able to showcase what you’re going to bring to the party!

What are you going to do differently this week?

How will you get your job search back in gear? Can you see how doing the footwork, having a clear strategy, and going after your targets can give you a much more satisfying experience, and result? Let me know your thoughts, in the comments below!



For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Degrees of Transition!


Degrees of Transition


Lea McLeodAbout the Author: Lea McLeod is author of the Resume Coloring Book. Check it out if you are struggling with writing your resume in today’s job market. She’s also founder of the Job Success Lab so that you can GO PRO in any job! Follow her on Twitter and her blog:



This entry was posted in Career Advice, Job Search and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.