Career Advice

Reinvigorating a job search that’s gone cold

Is anybody out there?
Does anyone know that I exist?

Feels sort of cold and barren out there, doesn’t it? This is exactly the kind of feeling that many job seekers experience when waiting for something to happen in their search process. But this describes a more passive way of looking for jobs, and as alluded to, is also a fairly ineffective way of landing a job. Better to take a much more active approach, one that will yield faster and more positive results.

Many job seekers get started by perusing multiple job search websites, creating their online profiles, and applying to those online opportunities they see. They may get a lot of applications out there at first, but there is rarely any way they can follow up on those applications. They start to feel like all their effort has gone down a black hole, and they lose momentum and eventually their job search activities slow down to a trickle. Think of the psychology experiments with rats who occasionally get rewarded for their activity with a bit of food. They keep going and going because they learn that they get some kind of reward. But a job seeker who never gets any kind of feedback or reward will stop that seeking activity without some kind of reward or interaction with the outside world. So there is your key to reinvigorating a slow or non-existent job search – find some new ways of looking and reward yourself with some fun activities to re-energize yourself. You will be a much happier person, as well as learning about some new opportunities that may come to fruition as a result. Try these techniques:

• Informational interviewing – one way to learn more about various career opportunities is to talk with people who are doing work that you think you might enjoy. This helps you clarify your interests, and also helps you to develop a network of people who can send you job leads and ideas. It’s also a good way help you practice talking about yourself – a key skill in interviewing. There is no down side to this activity if you do it right and respectfully. And it’s a lot more fun than the typical job search activity that gets most people down!
• Talk to everyone – along with informational interviewing, just get in the habit of talking to everyone you meet about your job search and the ideas you have. Surprising connections can be made in this way. Try it – you’ll see.
• “Plan” for serendipity – some job seekers can be so rigid in their job search activities that they miss out on some fun, and potentially productive, “detours.” Try volunteering with something that is new to you. Help with a local campaign. Go to a rally for some kind of cause that you are interested in. Join a cycling club. Go to a local meeting of a professional association in the field that you are pursuing. These seemingly unproductive activities can help you meet more people. And people help people get jobs.

See a theme in the above mentioned activities? Connect with others to get yourself away from your computer and those “black-hole” job applications. It’s a much better use of your time and effort. And it’s a proven job search strategy that works.

Dr. Kathy Williams

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