Seven Tips for Jump Starting a Stalled Job Search


A growing number of jobseekers find themselves in the midst of a long-term job search. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. jobless rate soared to a four-year high of 5.7% in July 2008 and the average job search took more than four months to net results. However, some critics would put this number and the number of the unemployed much higher.

Helen Kooiman, author of Suddenly Unemployed asserts, “[S]uch statistics are inaccurate indicators. They do not include those whose unemployment benefits have run out or those who don’t qualify for unemployment… Such statistics also do not count welfare recipients, temps (who cannot be counted as fully employed), or others who eke out a living on so-called self-employment.” Neither do such reports include what the Bureau of Labor Statistics terms “discouraged workers” or those who “were not currently looking for work specifically because they believed no jobs were available for them.” Their figures reached 461,000 in July.

A long-term job search can put a tremendous financial and emotional strain on a job hunter. “It’s been a demoralizing experience and it’s been very difficult budgetwise. I’m a single mother,” Kay Marie King says, a former non-profit executive with a wealth of experience that is currently involved in an ongoing job search. So, what can you do when weeks of a fruitless job search quickly turns to months? Here are seven tips for jump starting a stalled job search:

Tip One: Don’t be so quick to blame everything on the economy (your region, your industry, etc.)

These issues certainly play a role in the current job market. However, it is easy to fixate on such factors and completely discount factors which we personally control. The next six tips cover areas that long-term jobseekers do well to revisit to jump start a stalled job search. Why is this so important? I am reminded of a woman I once interviewed that looked great on paper, but during the interview she had an incredibly offensive body odor. She remarked that she’d been on several interviews but she was “overqualified” for every position. It was a classic case of the problem (or her perception of what the problem was) not really being the problem. While most jobseekers don’t have such an obvious issue, each one would still do well to take a long look in the mirror.

Tip Two: Conduct a candid self-assessment.

Look at yourself from the perspective of the potential employer. Compare your experience and qualifications to those typically required of someone in your target position. How do your skills and experience match up? Think of creative ways to to fill skill gaps and gain experience.

Tip Three: Re-examine your target position or industry.

Are you searching for work in a waning industry or oversaturated field? Is your desired position readily available in your selected geographic area? Being open to relocation may improve your chances. Can you apply your knowledge and skills to an industry that is experiencing growth?

Tip Four: Rethink your current job search.

What job search strategies are you currently using? If you are concentrating your efforts on strategies that are typically the least effective (like online job boards and newspaper ads) your job search will take much longer to yield results. Consider incorporating job search strategies that yield higher results, like networking and direct targeted mailing campaigns.

Tip Five: Re-evaluate the way you are communicating your message verbally and in print.

Communicating your message to potential employers in a clear and compelling manner is critical to job search success. Re-examine your resume. Does it communicate your value to employers by addressing how your skills and experience will meet the employer’s specific needs? Practice communicating your value in response to typical interview questions, including, “Tell me about yourself.”

Tip Six: Maintain your intensity level and a positive outlook.

It is easy to become discouraged over the course of a lengthy job search. Keep a positive outlook and maintain a high-level of focus and intensity throughout your job search for quicker results. Taking a systematic approach to your job search will help you to stay organized and on track during your job search. Yet, it is important to pursue other interests during your job search. Enjoy spending time with friends and family. Renew your interest in a hobby. Tackle a project you wouldn’t have time to if you were working. Spending time in other pursuits provides a much-needed reprieve from the stress of a job search. You’ll be energized and ready for the next leg of your job search.

Tip Seven: Build a solid support system.

If a self-guided job search has netted limited results; consider working with a career or job search coach. Your coach will help you identify any problem areas and offer suggestions for improvement. Another option is to join a local or online job search club. If a coach or job search club isn’t available try building your own support network. Enlist the help of family and friends or connect with other job hunters. Taking a team approach to your job search provides an opportunity for constructive feedback, a fresh perspective, ongoing encouragement, and added accountability.

Try applying the tips above to jump start a stalled job search. Learn more about conducting a Simply Successful Job Search by visiting SavvyJobseeker.com.

Roxanne Ravenel is a Job Search Coach; the author of The Savvy Jobseeker’s Guide & Workbook: Five Steps to a Simply Successful Job Search; and the host of The Savvy Jobseeker weekly podcast. Visit SavvyJobseeker.com to learn more tips for finding your ideal work in less time.

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