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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

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Last Updated on July 23, 2019

How to Make a Career Change at 40 and Stop Feeling Stagnant at Work

How to Make a Career Change at 40 and Stop Feeling Stagnant at Work

There are plenty of people who successfully made a career change at the age of 40 or above:

The Duncan Hines cake products you see in the grocery store are a good example. Hines did not write his first food guide until age 55 and he did not license his name for cake mixes until age 73.

Samuel L. Jackson made a career change and starred alongside John Travolta in Pulp Fiction at the age of 46.

Ray Kroc was age 59 when he bought his first McDonald’s.

And Sam Walton opened his first Wal-Mart at the age of 44.

I could keep going, but I think you get the point. If you have a sound mind and oxygen in your lungs, you have the ability to successfully make a career change.

In this article, I’ll look into why making a career change at 40 seems so difficult for you, and how to make the change and get unstuck from your stagnant job.

What’s Holding You Back from Making a Career Change?

There are a flood of amazing reasons to make a career change at 40. Heck, you could argue the benefits of making a career change at any age. However, there is something a little different about making a career change at 40.

When you are 40, you probably have lots of “responsibilities” that come into the decision-making process. What do I mean by responsibilities, you ask?

Responsibilities tend to be our fears and self-doubt wrapped in a bow of logic and reason. You may say to yourself:

  • I have bills to pay and a family to support. Can I afford the risk associated with a career change?
  • What about the friends I have made over the years? I cannot just abandon them.
  • What if I do not like my career change as much as I thought I would? I could end up miserable and stuck in a worse situation.
  • My new career is so different than what I have been doing, I need additional training and certifications. Can I afford this additional expense and do I have the time recoup my investment?
  • The economy is not the best and there is so much uncertainty surrounding a new career. Maybe it would be better to wait until I retire from this company in 15 years, and then I can start something new.

If you have experienced any of these thoughts, they will only pacify you for a short period of time. Whether that time is a few weeks, a few months, or even a few years.

Since you know that you prefer to do something else for a living, you start to feel stagnant in your current position.

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Your reasons for inaction that used to work are no longer doing the trick. What used to be a small fissure in your dissatisfaction in your current position is now a chasm.

Ideally, you never stay in a situation until that point, but if you did, there is still hope.

4 Tips To Change Your Career at 40

You do not have to feel stagnant in your current role any longer. You can take steps to conquer your fears and self-doubt so you can accomplish your goal of changing your career.

The challenge of changing your career is not knowing where to begin. That feeling of overwhelm and the fear of uncertainty is what keeps most people from moving forward.

To help you successfully change your career at the age of 40, follow these four tips.

1. Value Your Time Above Money

There is nothing more valuable than your time. You are likely receiving a pay-check or two every month that is replenishing your income. Money is something you can always receive more of.

When it comes to your time, when it is gone, it is gone. That is why waiting for the perfect situation to make a career change is the wrong mindset to have.

Realistically, you will never find the perfect situation. There will always be something that could be better or a project you want to finish before you leave.

By placing your time above money, you will maximize your opportunity to succeed and avoid stagnation.

If you feel disconnected when you are at work, understand that you are not alone. According to a Gallup Poll, only 32% of U.S. employees said they were actively engaged at work.[1]

Whether you think your talents are not being properly utilized, the politics of promotion stress you out, or you feel called to do something else with your life; the time to act is now.

Do not wait until you retire in another 10 to 20 years to make a career change. Put a plan in place to make a career change now. You will thank yourself later.

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2. Build a Network

Making a career change is not going to be easy, but that does not mean it is impossible.

One benefit to being further along in your career is the people you associate with are further along in their career as well.

Even if most of the people in your immediate network are not in your target industry, you never know the needs of the people with whom they associate.

A friend of mine recently made a career change and entered the real estate industry. The first thing he did was tell everyone he knew that he was a licensed real estate agent.

It was not as though he thought everyone he knew was getting ready to sell their home. He wanted to make sure he was in the front of our mind if we spoke to anyone purchasing or selling their home.

You may have had a similar experience with a financial adviser canvasing the neighborhood. They wanted to let you know they were a local and licensed financial adviser. Whether you or someone you knew was shopping for an adviser, they wanted to make sure you thought of them first.

The power of your network being further along in their career is they may be the hiring manager or decision-maker.

You want to let people know you are considering a career move early in the process, so they are thinking of you when the need arises.

Let me put it to you in the form of a question: When is the best time to let people know you have a snow shoveling business?

In the summer when there is not a drop of snow on the ground.

Let them know about your business in the summer. Then ask them if it is okay to keep in touch with them until the need arises. Then you want to spend the entire fall season cultivating and nurturing the relationship. As a result, when the winter comes around, they already know who is going to shovel their snow.

If you want to set yourself apart from your competition, start throwing out those feelers before the need arises. Then you will be ahead of your competition who waited until the snow fell to start canvasing the neighborhood.

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Learn about networking here: How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life

3. Believe It Is Possible

One of the greatest mistakes people make when they want to try something new, is they never talk to people living the life they want.

If you only talk to friends who have not changed their career in 30 years, what kind of advice do you think they will give you? They are going to give you the advice that they live by. If they have spent 30 years in the same career, they most likely feel stability of career is essential to their life.

In life, your actions often mirror your beliefs. Someone who wants to start a business should not ask for advice from someone who never started one.

A person who never took the risk of starting a business is most likely risk adverse. Consequently, they are going to speak on the fact that most businesses fail within the first five years.

Instead, if you talk to someone who is running a business, they will advice you on the difficulties of starting a business. However, they will also share with you how they overcame those difficulties, as well as the benefits of being a business owner.

If you want to overcome your fears and self-doubt associated with changing your career at 40, you are going to need to talk to people who have successfully managed a career change.

They are going to provide you a realistic perspective on the difficulties surrounding the endeavor, but they are also going to help you believe it is possible.

Studies show the sources of your beliefs include,[2]

“environment, events, knowledge, past experiences, visualization etc. One of the biggest misconceptions people often harbor is that belief is a static, intellectual concept. Nothing can be farther from truth! Beliefs are a choice. We have the power to choose our beliefs.”

By choosing to absorb the successes of others, you are choosing to believe you can change your career at 40. On the other hand, if you absorb the fears and doubts of others, you have chosen to succumb to your own fears and self-doubt.

4. Put Yourself Out There

You are most likely going to have to leave your comfort zone to make a career change at 40.

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Reason-being, your comfort zone is built on the experiences you have lived thus far. So that means your current career is in your comfort zone.

Even though you may be feeling stagnant and unproductive in your career, it is still your comfort zone. This helps explain why so many people are unwilling to pursue a career change.

If you want to improve your prospects of launching your new career, you are going to need to attend industry events.

Whether these events are local or a large conference that everyone attends, you want to make it a priority to go. Ideally you want to start with local events because they may be a more intimate setting.

Many of these events have a professional development component where you can see what skill-sets, certification, and education people are looking for. Here you can find 17 best careers worth going back to school for at 40.

You can almost survey the group and build your plan of action according to the responses you receive.

The bonus of exposure to your new industry is you may find yourself getting lucky (when opportunity meets preparation) and creating a valuable relationship or landing an interview.

Final Thoughts

Whatever the reason, if you want to change your career, you owe it to yourself to do so. You have valuable in-sight from your current career that can help you position yourself above others.

Start sharing your story and desire to change your career today. Attend industry events and build a mindset of belief. You have everything you need to accomplish your goal, you only need to take action.

More Resources About Career Change

Featured photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/HY-Nr7GQs3k via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] News Gallup: Employee Engagement In US, Stagnant In 2015
[2] Indian J Psychiatry: The Biochemistry Of Belief

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