4 Tips for Getting Out of a Job Search Rut

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Job hunting can be an arduous process. In fact, many job seekers argue that securing employment requires almost as much time and energy as a full-time job because of how demanding it can be. From sifting through vacancy postings and writing cover letters to overhauling your resume and updating your LinkedIn profile, the search for a new job can be a draining endeavor, and it’s not uncommon for job seekers to find themselves stuck in a rut. Whether it’s because they can’t find positions that appeal to them, don’t get invitations for interviews, or keep getting rejected, job seekers are bound to face disappointments and setbacks. The key is to persevere despite the challenges.

The job market has changed and expanded dramatically thanks to the internet as more and more people work from home and companies have a global pool of candidates to choose from. While your career opportunities have increased exponentially, there’s also more competition for jobs and positions you didn’t even know existed, making the task of searching and applying for the right jobs all the more difficult and demanding. Instead of competing with a dozen people from your hometown, you now have to compete with hundreds of candidates from around the world. Bleak and hopeless this may all seem, but don’t be quick to throw in the towel—keep looking and sending in those applications as your efforts will eventually pay off, and you’ll be glad you didn’t quit. 

If you’re not having success in your job search, it may be time to take a step back and consider the possible reasons for your lack of progress. Is your resume carefully tailored to each position, or are you sending out a generic one for every marginally relevant vacancy you stumble across? Are you sufficiently qualified for the jobs you’re applying for, or are you perhaps overqualified, with employers assuming you’ll leave as soon as something better comes along? Are you going into job interviews confident and prepared, or are you letting your nerves sabotage your performance? 

Don’t let rejections get you down—instead, look at them as valuable feedback and find areas to improve. Whether you’re looking for your first job, rejoining the workforce after a break, or seeking a change in career, putting yourself out there inevitably entails some rejection, and it’s important to learn how to manage it and stay motivated even when things get tough. Take a break for self-care to make sure you don’t burn out, but then jump back into the job search, ready to take on the competition and land your dream job.

If you would like expert help with your resume and cover letters or are interested in career coaching or mock job interviews, our team stands ready to assist. To learn more, check out our services for job success and take the next big step in your professional journey. 

Let’s now see what you can do to get yourself out of a rut when it feels like you’ll never get a new job.

1. Revisit your goals

Sometimes, all we need to find our motivation is to remember why we started in the first place. Remind yourself why you embarked on this job search, and when the going gets tough, focus on what your objectives and goals were in the beginning. Why is this job important? Why do you want it and not another one that might be easier to snatch? 

Whatever discomfort you may be experiencing now, the rewards will be worth it. Think about your future—where do you want to be? What’s your vision for yourself? If that’s still not enough to rekindle your motivation, consider the opposite—what might your future look like if you gave up? What if you just settled for a dead-end job, one that doesn’t fulfill you and put you on the path to realizing your dreams? Keep sight of your purpose and career goals and let that give you the strength to persist. Hiring managers will also notice your ambition, so wear it proudly. 

2. Be proactive and network 

If you’re in a job search rut, one of the best things you can do is to be proactive and network. Let your social and professional circles know you’re looking for a job, and put your criteria out there—you never know when the right position will come along or who will think of you when they hear about a job opening. Acquaintances may have connections that could help you land your dream job, so make it known as widely as possible that you’re on the lookout.

Don’t just sit around waiting for the perfect job to fall into your lap—send follow-up emails and thank-you letters so hiring managers don’t forget about you, but always be polite because being too intense can be just as detrimental as being too passive. Thank-you notes, in particular, are a great idea since not only do they serve as a reminder of your application, but they also give you an opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism and social skills. Many hiring managers have even admitted to disqualifying candidates who don’t send a thank-you letter, so you’re always better off sending one.

3. Reevaluate your job search strategy

Having a strategy will make the job search process much easier to navigate as it will help you stay focused on your goals even when times get tough. Mind you, in most job searches, times will get tough—looking for a job is inherently time-consuming, demanding, and mentally exhausting. As with most things, however, you improve with practice and experience. The more applications you send out, the more you learn about the process, and the more you learn, the more your strategies can (and should) evolve. 

So, if you haven’t heard back from any employers or you’ve interviewed for several positions but never seem to make it to the next stage, maybe it’s time to reevaluate your original game plan and see what changes you can make or how you can modify your approach. Are your goals clear? Is your professional profile consistent and appealing? It’s important to align your skills, qualifications, and expectations with the jobs you’re interested in, so take an objective look at how you’ve been approaching your search so far and make any necessary adjustments. 

In case you’re not suitably qualified for the positions you’re applying for, work out what you’re missing and go get it—learn a new skill or improve an existing one or take a class to obtain a new certificate. If you’re not tailoring your resume for each position, start right now—hiring managers aren’t impressed by generic resumes, so make sure yours is customized for each individual job. 

Also, consider your online presence—do your social media profiles abound with party pictures or controversial posts that could be turning hiring managers off? Make sure you clean up your social media before launching your job search since nearly all employers will look you up online when considering your application.

4. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile

When you’re job-hunting, your resume, cover letters, and LinkedIn profile are doing most of the work for you, so they need to be as flawless as possible. Of course, you always want to be honest, so don’t lie or embellish the truth—you want to make sure your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile present you in the best possible light without straying from the truth. 

It’s essential to ensure that there are no typos or grammatical errors in any of your documents or public profiles, that they’re all consistent with your professional goals, and that you’ve included keywords that will be picked up by both humans and computer programs so your resume can make it past the first round. The same goes for your cover letter, which you should tailor for each position but keep focused on the same goals. While your LinkedIn profile will be more general in nature, you want to customize your resume and cover letter as much as possible, taking keywords from the job posting to craft the most relevant application you can.

LinkedIn is the most likely place for a hiring manager to begin their search or, at the very least, use to check on their candidates, so you want your profile to be polished and send the message you intend to send. Make sure it is consistent with the resumes and cover letters you’re sending out and features a professional-looking picture of yourself.

If this all sounds overwhelming and you would like a professional’s advice and guidance, our team of experts offers over-the-phone career coaching as well as help with revamping your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile to make sure you stand out as the perfect choice for that dream job you’re pursuing. 

Improve Your Resume or CV