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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

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

I imagine that like me, you say that you never have enough time and that you just cannot cope with 60 dozen things all at once.

How on earth do you get out of that spiral?

Many people never sit down and look at how to work smarter, rather than harder and even longer hours. But not you, you’re smart enough to try to learn effective ways to work.

So how to work smarter not harder? Here are 12 smart ways you should be following:

1. Improve Your Time Management Skills

Easier said than done? Well, no actually, because there are a few simple rules that can really help you to manage time better.

For example, when setting up a top priority task, you need to switch off the phone and ignore your email first. Then you need to abandon any ideas of multitasking as that will slow you down and ruin your focus.

Finally, set a reasonable deadline and do everything in your power to meet it.

“When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.” — Sir Ray Avery

2. Speed up Your Typing and Use Shortcuts

These days we’re all keyboard slaves. So why not speed up your typing and try to get rid of the two finger syndrome. In fact, when you save 21 days per year just by typing fast!

This is exactly what I am doing now, so I cannot honestly say I am practicing what I preach!

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But help is at hand. Try some of these apps and games to help you type fast: 8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

Using shortcuts on the keyboard is another time saver and can speed up your work.

For example, press F2 to rename a selected file, while CTRL + I will put selected text in italics.

There are so many of these. If you make the effort to learn them, they really can be helpful.

3. Learn How to Use Productivity Tools

It is well worth downloading all the useful tools and apps that can highly boost your productivity. Take a look at these 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools and install whatever fits your needs.

Now that is really a great way of working smarter, not harder.

4. Use Your Phone Wisely

Instead of writing emails, sometimes it’s better to pick up the phone and talk to the person responsible. It saves time, especially for important or urgent discussions.

If that colleague works in the same office, it is even better to go and talk to him or her. It gives you a break, you get some exercise and you actually make human contact which is becoming quite rare in this electronic world.

5. Keep a Tab on Your Tabs

If you are like me, you might well find that you have a ton of tabs open at the top of your browser.

In order to find the one you want, you have to search for them as they are off screen. Having all these tabs open slows down your browser too.

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One solution is to use OneTab which can keep a neat list on the screen of all these tabs when you want to quickly get to one of them or you want to remind yourself which ones you have open.

6. Use a “To Don’t” List

We all know about to do lists and I find that they are generally great. They give me a great sense of achievement as I cross off the tasks done.

But often, I find that we are doing non-essential tasks or ones that can easily be postponed. That is why many people recommend the to don’t list.[1]

Some people prefer to savagely prune the to do list while others prefer to have two separate lists, to do and to don’t. You just have to work out what works best for you when you are trying to save precious time to become more productive.

7. Expect Failure and Fight Paranoia

When failure rears its ugly head, some people get a bit paranoid and fear that this may become a trend.

Projects will go wrong and failure should be expected rather than feared. Learning lessons from failure and analyzing what went wrong is the best way forward.

“Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” — Richard Branson

And here you can find 10 Great Lessons Highly Successful People Have Learned From Failure.

8. Be Concise

Rambling on at meetings, in emails and even when introducing yourself to new clients can waste a lot of people’s time.

One way is to practice and sharpen your “elevator speech,”[2] which tells people in 30 seconds or less why they need your skills and how they can benefit from doing business with you.

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Just think of the many situations where this could be useful:

  • Making new contacts
  • Talking about yourself at a job interview
  • Meeting people at conferences or parties
  • Phone calls to new clients

9. Ask the Right Questions

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” — Naguib Mahfouz

How do you get feedback? The secret is to ask the right questions at the right time.

When you do this, you are gathering the information you need to help in decision making. This will save you time and you will be able to cut meetings to a minimum.

Forbes magazine reports on research that they carried out on asking the right questions.[3] When that happens, the positive effects are increased by 400%. There are also other benefits in staff motivation and a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

Lifehack’s CEO Leon has shared about how to ask for feedback to learn faster: How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

10. Learn as Much as You Can

You should always be on a steep learning curve. Look at your skills profile and determine where you need to fill a gap. Talk to important connections and network in your niche.

Keep up to date on trends and developments. It is a fact-changing world. When an opportunity arises, you will be the best equipped to seize it because you have never stopped learning. Just another way of working smarter.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

11. Look After Your Greatest Resource

No, your greatest resource is not time. It is YOU.

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If you do not get enough sleep, exercise and relaxation, you find that you become less and less productive. You begin to work longer and longer hours, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

What you should be doing is making sure you are in the best shape. It is useful to remember that you need a break of 15 minutes after every one and a half hours of work.[4]

Taking breaks and getting fresh air and exercise is one of the best ways of working smarter, not harder.

12. Don’t Fall into the Trap of Working Smarter and Harder

As a society, we are obsessed with doing everything smarter so we are more efficient and we save time all around.[5]

But the most important thing to remember is to accept when we are ready to switch off that computer and not fill up the time with even more work!

The Bottom Line

The key to greater productivity is to work smarter, not harder. Working smarter saves precious time and energy for the things that really matter — your life goals, your personal growth, your health and your relationships.

Stop working for more hours and start working smarter!

More About Working Smart

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

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