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How to Unstick Your Stuck Job Search

Topics: Career Advice
job search

Unemployment is hovering around a 16-year low, but that doesn’t mean that everyone who wants a job has one — or that an extended job search is any less stressful than it was in the depths of the recession.

If you’ve been looking for a job for a while now, the challenge is to stave off job-seeker burnout. Here’s how to get your job search back on track:

1. Connect with other humans.

“Talk to people,” suggests recruiter Adam Karpiak on LinkedIn. “Actually talk to people. Doesn’t have to be networking. You don’t have to try to get something out of it. Just talk to people. Talk to your connections on LinkedIn. Go out to lunch with former co-workers. Sure, it can be ‘networking’ technically, but don’t lose that human element of interaction just because you don’t go to work.”

Even if you’re lucky enough to be looking for a job while you still have a job — however eager you are to get out of there — don’t overlook the power of connecting with people. Up to 85 percent of jobs are found through networking. Applying for jobs online might mean throwing your resume down a well (or at least into the clutches of an applicant tracking system, which can be the same thing).

Beyond that, it’ll do you some good to get out of your head for a while.

2. Change something.

Feel stuck in your job search right now? Change something.

Shake up your routine, rewrite your resume, refresh your social media profiles. Re-connect with an old colleague or roommate or friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Do something different.

It might shake loose opportunity. At the very least, it’ll change your perspective.

3. Ask for constructive criticism.

Unsuccessful job searches often seem to have one specific bottleneck. Maybe you’re getting a lot of first interviews, but not second ones. Maybe you make it all the way to the end, only to lose the opportunity to the other final candidate. Or maybe you can’t even land that first phone screen. Wherever the hurdle is, you can’t seem to cross it.

It’s possible that you’re just having bad luck, but thinking that way won’t get you very far. Instead, ask a friend for help. Choose one of your friends who’s successful, familiar with your field and able to be honest with you about tough things (in a helpful manner). Ask them to review your resume and/or perform a mock interview with you, to see if there’s room for improvement. Even if your materials and presentation truly aren’t the problem, you can always get better.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

4. Look for your personal skills gap.

Are your skills up to scratch? (Are you sure?) If you’ve been in the same field for a few years, and haven’t learned anything new for a while, you might be behind. PayScale’s Salary Survey can tell you which skills are associated with higher earnings in your field.

You can also dig into LinkedIn profiles of people with your job title at other employers. What hard and soft skills do they highlight, and do you offer the same?

5. Widen your net.

Most job seekers start their search with pretty specific parameters in mind in terms of job title, company type, commute time, etc. If your job search has stalled, it might be time to look a bit farther afield.

That doesn’t necessarily mean leaving your industry or relocating to a new town. Look for related job titles that use your skillset, or consider different kinds of employers (big firms vs. startups, for example). Consider looking for work-from-home opportunities, or adding some consulting or freelance work to your CV. Think bigger, or smaller, or slightly different than what you’re used to. You might be surprised by what you find.

Tell Us What You Think

What tips would add to our list? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or talk to us on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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