Jump Start Your Job Search

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC

You know the exact day you last worked. You know how many days, weeks, and months have passed since that day. The unknown is how many more days of unemployment lie ahead. You need a job search revival in the worst sort of way. Here are some tips to get a new handle on your job search and recapture a positive attitude.

Evaluate Your Goals – Has your industry collapsed? Maybe it is time to consider a career change or a change of your goals. Just because you’ve been a Widget Superintendent for 25 years, does not mean you should remain in that career path, especially if the widget industry has shrunk to nothing or completely moved overseas. If the jobs are not there, how can you get hired? It’s time for a change, even if unwelcome! While uncomfortable, change is often a good thing. It moves us out of our rut, gets us thinking in new directions, and gets us excited about the future. The hardest part is facing the fact that change is needed. Once you get past that, you can make progress.

A career change is best accomplished with a plan and flexibility. Big changes are best accomplished in small steps.  Sit down and determine a logical, accomplishable career-change goal. Consider your interests, your resources, your availability and time frame. Make a list of what you will need to do to reach that goal. For example, you may need more education or different training. You may need to learn more about your target industry. Or you may need to expand your network to include more people who can help you reach your new goal.

Once you have outlined steps to your goal, determine what obstacles face you for each step. What could prevent you from accomplishing each step? For example, if you need to attain new training, what could hinder that effort? Perhaps it is finding a place for training or finding a way to pay for it. Once you identify your hurdles, brainstorm ways to overcome those hurdles. Nothing is insurmountable.

Try Something New – Albert Einstein said “The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If you’ve been doing the same things in your job search for months and you are not receiving first interviews or job offers, maybe it’s time to do something differently! Change your methods or your tools! If you are getting interviews but no offers, you might need some interview practice. Whatever you have been doing, mix it up if it’s not working. Continuing in the same pattern is just silly and non-productive. Adapt to your environment rather than waiting for the environment to adapt to meet your needs.

Invest in Your Job Search – Money spent on improving your job search tools and activities is an investment in yourself. There are professionals out there with mountains of information, knowledge, and expertise that can help you in your job search. Think of them as a resource. Career coaches, career counselors, transition experts, resume writers, interview specialists – all have insight they have worked very hard to attain that can benefit you. You are wading through a situation with which you are very unfamiliar – unemployment – but which they make their profession. Get their advice and help and your return on investment will be more than you could hope for.

Get Involved – Long-term unemployment causes many people to withdraw from activities. Being out of work automatically removes you from your social circle at your place of employment. With the digitalization of job search, it’s possible to apply for jobs while sitting at home in your pajamas. Isolation is not a good thing when you are unemployed. Do something about it and get involved. Volunteer your time for a worthy cause. Not only does this pay off immediately by helping others while stimulating your brain, but it brings you into contact with more people with whom you can network. It also gives you an answer for that interview question “So, what have you been doing with your time since your last job?”

Campaign – Have you ever thought of a job search like a political campaign? Think about what candidates do during a political campaign. They go knock on doors. They meet with groups of people. They speak on different topics. They shake hands. They show up at events. They pursue media attention. They send out mailers and put up posters. They debate each other. All of these activities can be categorized as proactive outreach activities.  Candidates don’t just throw up a website and sit at home hoping someone will vote for them. They go after the vote.

The same basic principle applies to your job search. Get out there and DO SOMETHING. Talk to people. Join groups. Get involved. All of these activities bring you into contact with other people and believe it or not – it is still PEOPLE who hire candidates. Whatever you do doesn’t even have to be job-related – just get out of the house and around other people. You will soon find that not only do you have a more positive attitude, but someone in your path will be in a position to open a door of opportunity for you.

Unemployment can be tough. Don’t make it tougher. Rather than being passive and reactive, be aggressive and proactive. If nothing is happening, MAKE something happen! You’ll be surprised at the results!