Looking for a new job, whether by choice or by necessity, is hard work. Applying for jobs online can feel like running on an endless treadmill — exhausting and humiliating — and the constant stress of long-term joblessness can lead to burnout, which can lead to abandoning your search before finding the right job. Before admitting defeat, consider new approaches that will help you maintain your job search habit without wearing you down.
According to experts, perseverance, careful strategies, and a little patience will eventually pay off and help you reach the end of the long, dark tunnel of unemployment.
Leslie Boudreaux, founder of BVOH Search and Consulting, an executive search and consulting firm based in San Francisco, and Steve Dalton, career programming director for the full-time MBA programme at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and author of The 2-Hour Job Search, offer advice on how to maintain a job search habit for the long haul and avoid burning out.
Maintain visibility. LinkedIn is the go-to tool for recruiters and hiring managers, and elevating your presence on that platform will help them find you. Keeping your profile current, connecting with every professional you meet, and engaging on the platform by sharing, liking, and commenting on content will help you stay visible in the marketplace, Boudreaux said.
She suggests recruiting someone you trust to serve as a sounding board, provide support, extend your reach through their professional contacts, and help you keep tabs on the job market. This could be a friend, a colleague, or a former manager or recruiter you trust.
“At this critical time in your career, these colleagues can give you a tremendous amount of advice and support and might even directly help you find a new job,” she said.
Schedule informational meetings. People tend to quantify their job search by the number of applications they place and the number of hours they spend doing so. But those don’t correlate to success, Dalton said.
“Putting yourself in the hunt among many other job candidates — by applying to online job postings without referrals — vying for one job over and over is a recipe for burnout,” he said.
One way to avoid job search fatigue is to flex your curiosity and expand your horizon by scheduling informational meetings with successful professionals you admire. Rather than inquiring about job openings at their companies, ask for their insights and how they achieved success in their own careers. They will be responsive because people enjoy talking about themselves, Dalton said.
“These professionals are strangers when you first meet them, and expressing genuine interest in their opinions, their knowledge, and what they have learned along the way will help you turn a stranger into an ally,” he said.
Seek help from career counsellors. It’s frustrating to apply for random jobs over and over with no results, Boudreaux acknowledged.
“Instead of hitting the rapid application buttons on job listings, put some effort into your search, and seek out an expert who can analyse reasons why you are not getting results,” she said. Improving the way your résumé or CV is written or applying to the types of jobs better suited to your skills and background might help. When you get to the interview stage, career counsellors can help you put your best self forward.
“Often I see job candidates get that first interview, but they don’t get called back for a second interview, which demonstrates improvement may be needed there,” Boudreaux said. Personal coaches and counsellors can help you develop your personal brand, improve your résumé or CV, and help you become the best version of yourself during an interview.
Evaluate your career path. After being in the job market a long time with no success, looking in new directions may help you avoid feeling burned out, Boudreaux advised.
“Instead of giving up, seek opportunities in a different type of organisation,” she said. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, this may be a good time to start your own business. It just comes down to having the motivation, desire, drive, and courage to reinvent yourself and harness your special skills to reach your full potential, she added.
“I love asking people what they really love to do and how they can package their passion into something that also makes money,” she said.
Take a break. At interviews, your frustration can come through in a way that doesn’t paint the very best picture of you to an employer. If you exude desperation in the marketplace, potential employers may assume this approach to your job search is predictive of how you will approach a job, Boudreaux said.
“Even though it’s tough financially, you may need to take a break from your job search if you can afford it,” she said. She suggested using downtime to take a class, further your skills, or do something fun to get away from the fatigue of the job search. Consulting or contracting is another great option to keep your skills fresh, learn new ones, and generate income while you are looking for the perfect long-term opportunity.
Be strategic. There are millions of job-seekers and millions of companies hiring, but there is only one of you, so you must be methodical, Dalton said. He recommends scheduling informational interviews with representatives of companies you are most interested in learning about.
Dalton’s methodology also calls for creating a list of 40 companies you admire. “Consider companies that might not be having their doors knocked down by throngs of people looking for a job, and where it might be easier to find someone who will talk with you,” he said.
Using LinkedIn tools, search for things you might have in common with those 40 companies, such as college alumni or contacts who work there. Rank them in the order of their desirability as a potential employer, and visit sites such as Indeed or Glassdoor to see if they have posted any jobs fitting your qualifications. This exercise will help you narrow your list to five top companies to target for outreach and to cultivate relationships that may lead to new opportunities, Dalton said.
“You may not walk away from them with a job, but you will walk away a richer person for the experience,” he said.
Visit the Global Career Hub from AICPA & CIMA for help with finding a job or recruiting.
— Teri Saylor is a freelance writer based in the US. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Drew Adamek, an FM magazine senior editor, at Andrew.Adamek@aicpa-cima.com.