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13 Things To Do When Your Job Search Drags On

13 Things To Do When Your Job Search Drags On

Ah, unemployment! It’s so interesting to observe how individuals respond to losing their jobs. The normal emotions of panic, shock, anger, bitterness, and dejection all set in. For most people, the emotions pass, and the task of a job search sets in. Personally, I have been in this “limbo land” three times during my career, and each time my response and response-time changed. By the third time, I had this whole process mastered because I had learned some important lessons.

1. Limit Pity Time

My third time without a job garnered the anger and bitterness response, but I gave myself 24 hours — literally. I poured myself a drink (maybe two), I wallowed in my anger, and just let it roll on. Funny thing is, when you do this, you will actually be over it before the 24 hours is up. Then, you begin to focus on developing a plan for a job search.  And that job search can drag on and on, so you have to prepare yourself in advance for all of the things that are headed your way and develop some pretty thick skin.

2. Fine-Tune And Add To Your Hard And Soft Skills

Take a hard long look at the skill sets of your profession. Are they hard or primarily soft? If you intend to stay in your field, then do something that will add to those skills. Take a class (even if it is mid-semester, there are plenty of online courses you can begin anytime) to add to your hard skills. You must stay current in your field even if you don’t’ have a job.

If your skills are primarily soft (like HR, management, or sales), then get a couple of the newest books on the subject. Not only will you get some fresh ideas, but it will be great if you can mention a couple of authors or titles during an interview!

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3. Clean Up Your Social Media Presence

If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, get one and make it shine. If you don’t know how to do this, there are plenty of people out there who do this for a living — spend the money to make it stunning. Once you get on, join groups in your career field, participate in discussions, and build a network. You never know where an opportunity might come from.

Potential employers will probably look over your profile, so keep it up to date. The nice thing about LinkedIn these days is that it is fast becoming a clearinghouse for jobs. Employers are posting positions and actually looking for candidates who fit their requirements. This is why you want that profile to be just right. It should contain all of the keywords about your skill sets because employers search for those keywords.

Those off-color jokes and other inappropriate stuff that your friends are posting to your Facebook timeline? Get rid of them and learn how to set your privacy settings so that there are only certain things a non-friend can see. And don’t you dare post anything on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere else that bashes a former employer or company — that’s a perfect way to never get an interview!

4. Keep The Right Attitude

This is a tough one, especially when you keep getting ignored or rejected. There is no magic wand to keep out the negativity, but something that worked for me was this: Every time I found myself sinking into negative thinking, I literally slapped myself in the face, and that was my signal to stop and to immediately put my thought elsewhere or do something that made me feel good.

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Surely, you can find things in your career that were great successes — pull those up from the recesses of your memory. Think about what you have achieved so far in your life; get out and do something that is altruistic. For me, it was volunteering two mornings a week at the animal shelter. There was just something about caring for helpless creatures that made me feel really grateful for all that I had, and I would always return with a renewed spirit to press on. You need to remember this: When your attitude is poor it shows up in your cover letters, in your email correspondence, in your phone conversations, and in your interviews.

5. Consider If This Situation Is An Omen

I don’t mean omen in the spiritualistic sense, but I do believe that sometimes we unconsciously set up situations to force us to do what we probably would rather be doing anyway. I mention this only because, after my third round of unemployment, I began to engage in some serious self-analysis about what I really wanted to do for work.

My answer was to take my great skill set and strike out on my own. It was not particularly easy, but it was amazing how motivated and excited I was, and how much time I was willing to devote to getting my own business started. Don’t get me wrong. This is not an easy endeavor, but if you really want to give this a go, you can get all kinds of help and support and guidance available online and in books for free. For example, I could have hired an attorney at $300 an hour to get myself incorporated, but instead I was able to set up my own limited liability corporation for a fraction of the cost.

6. Hire a Resume Specialist

You may be nervous about finances, but you will be a lot more nervous the longer your unemployment continues. So spend the money and get a local resume specialist, and make sure that they either have graphic design skills or have someone on call for that. The average resume is reviewed for only five to seven seconds, so how do you think yours will stand out if it is the same boring template as everyone else’s? There are lots of unique templates and classy but captivating designs these days — try out one for yourself and see what happens!

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7. Stop Using Stock Cover Letters

If you are too lazy to do the research about a specific company and to write a cover letter that speaks to both the company and to the exact responsibilities of the open position, then you don’t deserve an interview. Get online and research the company; read the job description several times. Create a cover letter that will engage! And if you don’t know how to do that, get the information and take it to that resume specialist.

8. Develop And Maintain A Support System

You are going to have bad days — accept it. But you need supportive people with whom you can talk when you do. These are people who can pump you up, who can get you in a good mood, who will meet you for a drink, and who will spur you on to keep searching and sending out those resumes.

9. Use Only Niche Job Boards

If you get on those huge job boards (e.g. Monster.com), your resume will be among hundreds for the positions in which you are interested. Get on job boards that are specifically for you career niche. The number of applicants will be far fewer and the chances of having your resume actually read will be much greater.

10. Take A Break

You may not feel as if you can take a beach vacation right now, but how about going out of town to visit a favorite cousin or friend for a few days? Just getting out of the job search environment will give you something else to focus on, and you will come back with a better spirit. If you don’t have someone to visit, register for a conference, or take a day trip.

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11. Stay Physically Active

Whether you join a gym or not, there are ways to get in good exercise. Ride a bike, jog or power walk, swim, get rid of your lawn service and mow it yourself, get outside and engage in physical labor around the house. Plant a garden, pull weeds, trim bushes, paint — do all of those things that you thought you might get to at some point. Physical exercise releases endorphins, those feel-good hormones that keep your thoughts positive and give you energy. And you do want energy right now.

12. Eat Well

Just as physical activity is important, so is your diet. Make certain that you are getting plenty of fiber, fruits and veggies, and healthy protein. Not only will you feel better, but you will have good energy.

13. Seek Advice From A Career Coach

If you are just not getting the interviews or the call-backs, you may need to meet with a professional career coach. A good one can conduct some great assessments of your strengths and weaknesses, can evaluate your skill sets, and can develop a personalized program of improvement and career search.

If you don’t do that, at least look to those you know in your career field and ask for job search advice. But remember this: Career coaches do not have any history with you, and they will be brutally honest. Others you know may not be.

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Elena Prokopets

Elena is a passionate blogger who shares about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Have you ever caught yourself in a daydream where you’ve gone for that upcoming promotion, and you’re now the boss at work? Or how about the one where you’ve summoned up all your courage to quit a job where you’re feeling stuck in your career and live your dream instead? Or when you’ve changed career paths to do what really makes you happy?

Then, you snapped back to reality and realized that you’re not the boss, not living your dream, and not even happy in the career path that you’re on.

Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of individuals who’ve told me they feel stuck in their careers, that something had to change for them to break free and be happy, but they lacked the confidence to take that step. My mission is to make sure that nobody feels stuck in their career because of a momentary lapse in bravery that’s dragged on for too long.

Read on to find out how you can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work. .

Here are my top ten tips for becoming unstuck in your career.

1. Make Time for You

If you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, or unhappy with how your career is panning out, the first step is to work out why.

Maybe you’ve arrived in your current career by accident and haven’t ever made time to deliberately think or plan what you’d love to do and how you’d get there.

Prioritizing time to think is the first step you need to take to stop feeling stuck and start getting ahead. Book some time into your day where you can have an uninterrupted meeting with yourself. This is your thinking time.

Work out what makes you happy at work, what doesn’t, and where you might want to go. Decide on the steps you want to take to progress your career in the direction that you want it to take.

For example, are there training days, evening courses, or online learning that you can do? Have you considered getting a mentor to help you get ahead?

By booking in a meeting with yourself, it signals it’s important (to you and your colleagues) and also stops others spotting a gap in your day and filling it with a meeting.

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2. Grow Your Network Before You Need It

Who you know is more important than what you know for career progression. Don’t wait until you’re feeling stuck in your career to start expanding your networks. Do it now.

Adam Grant, the author of Give and Take, says you’re 58% more likely to get a new job through your weak ties than through your strong ones. Your strong ties are those in your immediate circle whom you interact with often. Your weak ties are your friends of friends. They move in different circles to you, they know different people, make different connections, and are more likely to introduce you to new and different opportunities[1].

When I was thinking about setting up my current company, Lucidity, I turned up to every networking event. I drank a lot of coffees with a lot of different people to understand what they did, to ask for advice, to unpick what their problems were, and to look for opportunities for collaboration and connections.

It paid off because, when I launched my business, I let my network know how I could help them, and soon I had my first clients.

Pay attention to building and nurturing your networks and focus on how you can add value to other. That’s where your next career opportunity is most likely to come from.

3. Surround Yourself With People Who Inspire You

According to Tim Ferriss, “You are the average of the five people you most associate with,” and his associations with different people ebbs and flows depending on what he’s working on and trying to achieve[2].

For example, if you are trying to be fitter, it’s easier if you hang around with people who love doing exercise–they help you to up your game.

If you want that promotion, a career change, or to set up your own business, seek out people who are excelling at it already. They’ll have valuable things to teach you about breaking free and getting ahead.

4. Work on Your Personal Brand

Jeff Bezos defines a personal brand as “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” People will talk about you when you are not in the room anyway, so you might as well be deliberate about what you’d like people to say!

Your personal brand isn’t about pretending to be something you’re not. That can actually keep you feeling stuck in your career. It’s really about being your best “real you.” It’s about owning your strengths and being purposeful about how you want to be perceived by others.

What do you want to be known for? By being more deliberate about how you want to come across and what you’re looking for in your career, you’ll increase your chance of attracting the right opportunities.

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Once you’ve given your personal brand some thought, make sure that you show up online. Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? And if you don’t have one, get one. Make sure it communicates what you want to be known for and that it’s consistent with your other social media profiles.

Try these 5 Steps to Master Networking Skills and Perfect Your Personal Branding.

5. Be Accountable

Achieve your career goals faster, and grow and learn by making yourself accountable. Tell other people your goals and a timeline. and have them to hold you accountable.

For example, you might want to get a promotion by the end of the year, have decided the sector you want to move to by the end of the month, or have got your new business idea before the next pay day. Whatever your ambitions are, you can tell a friend or a colleague, or share this with a mentor or a mastermind group.

When we tell other people our goals and intentions, they hold us accountable, and we are more likely to make progress faster.

6. Make Sure Your Values Are Aligned With Your Company’s

All the professional development, goal setting, and networks in the world won’t make you happy if you’re working for a company that ultimately has opposing values to yours.

Figure out what’s important to you in a job. For example, does your company’s product help people live a better life? Do you feel strongly about your company’s ethics and social responsibility? Does the company culture allows employees to be themselves and shine? Or maybe flexible working and more holidays for employees with families is where your heart is?

Some companies put their employees well-being at the core of their business; others put profits first. If you feel that your values don’t match the core values of your employer, it could be a reason why you’re feeling stuck in your career and unhappy.

It’s important to work through this and identify whether it’s the job that is not right for you, or if it’s a great job but the organization or sector is wrong for you.

7. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

Your comfort zone is your safe place. For any change to happen, you have to step out of your comfort zone.

It’s actually much easier not to change anything and to keep grumbling on about how you’re stuck and unhappy in your career than to step outside of your comfort zone to address the fearful unknowns associated with change. It’s part of human nature that we’d put up with the devil we know rather than risk the devil we don’t.

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This is true even if the devil we know is a boring, unfulfilling job because we’re wired to think that making a change to find a better option might actually leave us worse off.

If you feel stuck, it might be that your confidence has got the better of you.

To get ahead at work, start taking small steps outside of your comfort zone. Consider what you’re scared of that is stopping you from making a change. Then, tackle that in small steps.

For example, if you know that to move into the job you want, you’ll have to do more public speaking, but public speaking terrifies you so much it’s stopping you from going for the job, then start small to build your confidence. You can speak up more in team meetings, then slowly build from there.

You might also choose to set up or be part of a specific group. One of my clients, who found that confidence was holding her team back in achieving work goals, set up a “get out of your comfort zone club,” where they challenge and support each other to build their confidence by regularly leaving their comfort zones.

8. Learn to Embrace Failure

Failure is part of life. A New York University study found that children learning to walk averaged 2,368 steps and fell 17 times an hour[3]. Failure is simply the natural path to success.

The truth is that we don’t get everything right the first time. We fail, we learn, we pick ourselves up, and we try again.

In my experience, it’s common that whilst the theory of learning from failure is supported, the reality of being open about failures to enable personal learning is much harder to achieve.

We don’t like to admit that we’ve failed. We have a fight or flight response to failure. It’s a normal gut reaction to ask ourselves: “Will I get away with it if I don’t tell anyone?” We are fearful of criticism, of losing face in front of others, or even being fired for failure.

However, if you’re going to stop feeling stuck in your career, you must be open to learning from failure.

Reframe failure by viewing everything as an experiment because you can’t have a failed experiment—you just learn whether something works or not. Think of Edison inventing the lightbulb, when he said:

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“I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

9. Build Your Resilience

Resilience is the ability to tackle difficulties and setbacks, to bounce back, regroup, and to keep going.

Getting unstuck in your career, taking a different path, and achieving the results you want will take resilience. Having resilience is also the capacity to choose how you respond to the unexpected things that life throws your way and adapt and thrive in times of complex change.

Given that the world we live in is in constant flux, and the only thing that is certain is uncertainty, the ability to adapt and bounce back is an important life skill, as well as a career skill.

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth’s research shows that when measuring success, the ability to persevere beats talent every time.

Learn more about how to build resilience in this guide: What Is Resilience and How to Always Be Resilient (Step-By-Step Guide)

10. Ask for Help

It can be hard to ask for help, as it can make us feel vulnerable.

No one person can be expected to have all the answers. That’s why we need a group of people that we can go to for help, people who can pick us up when we have setbacks and also help us to celebrate success.

My advice is to be deliberate about creating your group. You can do that with a tool called a “Me Map”:

  1. Write down all the things that you might need support with, like help with career progression, interview practice, making new connections, talking through business plans, learning from failure, etc.
  2. Next to each thing, write the names of the people you go to when you need that particular thing.
  3. Make sure you get in touch and regularly connect with them.

Final Thoughts

You can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work by applying the tips in this article. Start small by incorporating three new things in your first week, and then adding more as your comfort zone and capacity expands.

Remember, no matter how stuck you feel, it’s never too late to make a change and land the career that you truly want.

More Tips to Stop Feeling Stuck in Your Career

Featured photo credit: NEW DATA SERVICES via unsplash.com

Reference

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