10 Things to do When Your Job Search Doesn’t Go as Planned

Career Discovery
04/28/17 - Nicole Wood

The job search and interview process is not fun. Let’s call a spade a spade. In fact, it can be downright miserable. Not only are you hyper-conscious of your empty wallet, you’re putting yourself in a constant position of being evaluated, judged and critiqued. And when things don’t go as planned and you get passed over for whatever reason, it can be a big blow to your self-confidence. It’s difficult not to take the outcome personally, and you may start to question your abilities and potentially your decision to make a career change or pursue this career path. When you’re feeling like you’re ready to just throw in the towel, here are some tips to boost your morale and get you back on track toward landing that next job:

  1. Use the time to reflect – are you being intentional about your search?

Sometimes when we are unhappy in a job or lose our position, we’re in a mad dash to get a new one and try to find something similar to our last role or “good enough.” ALV Coach and Co-founder Katie Bennett says, “When we’re looking for work, we tend to look for all of the opportunities available and then apply for as many as possible. When we approach the application process this way, we are less intentional about what we are looking for. We throw mud everywhere just to see what sticks. Instead, I encourage clients to reverse the traditional application process.  First decide what role or what company you want to work for. Don’t even look at the job boards yet. Just decide what you want. Next, research your top ten organizations with roles in the relevant area. Really study and understand each organization – their background, their competitive advantage, the projects they’re working on and so on. Next, find the relevant person at the organization to reach out to.” Being intentional about your search will not only increase your likelihood of finding a position you love, it will make your case stronger as an applicant as your passion and intention for this company and role will shine through.

  1. Get creative

We often get stuck in a confined way of thinking based on how we think the job search process is supposed to go. Submit resume. Get interview. Go on interview. Get job offer. And while that process may be pretty typical when securing your first job out of college, the process becomes a lot less standardized as you continue through your career. Very rarely, in fact, does the process look exactly like that. You may need to make a personal connection, attend an event, cold call, utilize LinkedIn to get an introduction to the company. Depending on your industry, you may want to assemble a portfolio, build a personal website, share samples of your work to demonstrate your skills and qualifications. Very rarely, if ever, does being over-prepared or overcommitted work against you. Think outside the box about how you can both get your foot in the door and stand out from the competition. Make the process your own.

  1. Use your network

You may be sick of sending your resume off into the digital void with no sense of whether or not a human ever takes a look at it. Personal connections and referrals are the most effective way to get an interview. So make sure you are sharing your interests and goals with your friends and family to see if they know anyone who may be able to support your pursuit. That being said, you do not necessarily need to know the person intimately to get a referral. Remember, recruiting is an expensive process, and the company wants to fill vacant positions with qualified candidates as soon as possible. If you are able to make a genuine connection with someone at your target company and can demonstrate your sincere interest in the role and your qualifications for the position, you are doing them as much of a favor as they are doing for you (and they may even get a referral bonus if you land the job!). Utilize LinkedIn to see if you have connections at the company or if you are connected with someone who does, and ask for an intro. Check out your target company’s website and social media accounts to see if they have any upcoming events you can attend. Think about industry events or conferences they may be involved with. If and when you do meet someone there, they will respect your drive and proactivity.

  1. Remember your gifts

You are uniquely gifted, and you bring something special and valuable to the table. Reconnect with the things you tend to get complimented for, the things you have excelled at in the past, the things that come naturally to you, the things people come to you for help on, the things that you do differently. Dig deep and you are sure to remember something, if not many things, that you do well. Remind yourself that no job interview will take that away from you. And be sure in your next one to call out these gifts. Incorporate them into your responses and anecdotes. Your confidence will naturally begin to show through, and your stories will be compelling because they are unique to you. If you are still struggling to identify and articulate your gifts, enlist the support of a career coach or explore our online career program to get a clear picture of what makes you unique and valuable to an employer.

  1. Do the ALV 999

If you’ve been searching for a job for weeks or months, it may feel like an eternity. This is probably exacerbated by my previous point about the process being an unpleasant one. Take a look at the big picture and how small this time is when compared with your whole life. Do the ALV 999. Think, will this job search frustration matter 9 minutes from now (likely yes), 9 months from now (probably not), 9 years from now (most definitely not). Take a second to put your frustration into perspective, give yourself a break, and then refocus on the task at hand.

  1. Reconnect with why you left/what your goal is

When your job search is disappointing it’s easy to glorify your last position or question the path that you’re on. But you set out on this pursuit for a reason. Remind yourself of the reasons you left your last role and reconnect with the goal you set out to achieve. Maybe you wanted more autonomy. Or to explore your passion for a new industry. Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Coach Katie encourages her clients to come up with a buzzword as a method to stay connected with their goal and intentions. She says, “A buzzword is a word or two that encapsulates your goal and everything it means to you. To arrive at your buzzword, think about how you will feel when you accomplish your goal – what feelings and emotions come to mind? Some examples might be “peace,” “invigorated,” “best-self.” Once you have your buzzword, I encourage you to put it somewhere that you will see frequently: a post-it note on your bathroom mirror, a reminder on your phone, your laptop screensaver, whatever works for you. That way, whenever you see this word, you will reconnect with your goal and what you are working toward.”

  1. Find a good recruiter

Many people are hesitant to work with recruiters, but they can be a powerful resource if you find the right one for you. Do your research to find the ones who specialize in your industry. Make sure you build a strong relationship with your new ally. Katie Parris at Access Search says, “Take the time to discuss your preferences with your recruiter and they will keep you in the loop as opportunities surface that match your interests.  A good recruiter will listen and provide roles that check those boxes instead of being focused on making a placement.” And don’t feel bad to follow-up regularly with your recruiter. Katie adds, “Recruiters often have many candidates on their radar.  Don’t be afraid to check in and show them roles that are interesting to you.  This will show your initiative and assist them with managing and maintaining the scope of your search.”

  1. Remember it’s not always about you

When you don’t get the job, it’s easy to get sucked into a wave of self-criticism. Am I not smart enough? Did they not like me? Did I totally flop on that question? But keep in mind that often times, you did absolutely nothing wrong, and you weren’t given the job for reasons completely out of your control. Perhaps they prefer to hire internally. Or maybe another candidate had a strong personal referral. Perhaps they lean toward people with a certain university or organization on their resume. It’s possible they decided not to fill this position at all.  It’s easy to place blame on yourself, and of course you should be analyzing how you can do better the next time around, but give yourself a break and recognize that sometimes you may have done everything right, and luck made it so it just wasn’t the job for you at this time.

  1. But develop a growth mindset and keep improving

Though getting passed over for a job may be completely out of your control, it is still a learning opportunity and a way to continue to increase your preparedness for the next interview process. Instead of dwelling on the disappointment, focus on what you learned and how that experience made you better or grew your network. Work on developing your “growth mindset.” ALV co-founder and Executive Coach, Foram Sheth, says, “I talk about this concept often in my coaching. A growth mindset is embracing failures, frustrations, mistakes as learning opportunities. With every interview, every resume submission, think about what you’ve learned. What could you do better next time? What did you do well? Every interview, every resume submission is a learning opportunity for you and can help clarify what’s working and what may need to change.”

  1. Laugh

As with any stressful experience, we often get so caught up in it that we forget to take time to relax and smile. Staying tense just increases the pressure we put on ourselves to change our situation, and that stress overload can cause you to lose focus or even get sick. Take a break to do something that makes you laugh. Watch a funny movie. Hang out with friends. As the Mayo Clinic explains in this article, laughing can relax your body, release endorphins, and ease tension. This will allow you to be a more calm and confident candidate as you walk into your next interview and will boost your immune system and happiness in the interim.

We know the job search process is not a fun one. Utilize these tips to keep your head up, keep your focus and accelerate your search. Your new job is just around the corner, so don’t give up. You are uniquely gifted, and when you are intentional about finding and securing the right job for you, they will be lucky to have you.

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