Behavior Changes Can Help a Stalled Job Search

For people re-entering the job market after 10 or 20 years of continued employment, and those having been out of the market for three years or more, the changes that have taken place may seem overwhelming. Responses to those changes can be anything from fear, trepidation, denial, or avoidance to spending hours and hours reading everything possible about the current depressed state of the job market, justifying why employment is so difficult. The behaviors that manifest as a result of these responses are only going to make matters worse if they are not dealt with and changed.

The following are some key points for getting out of your own way if you are currently experiencing a stalled search.

It isn’t about you. If you want to find work, then it is necessary to stop obsessing about your own circumstances, and turn your focus to what is needed in the workplace. What business still needs to be transacted and what work needs to be done, no matter what? What skills are required to make that happen? How can you be part of the solution? How can you contribute value to an employer that is also tightening the belt?

Use strategy and stop knee jerking. This is a time when creative and strategic thinking is not just a plus, it is a requirement. It is very likely what you really want to do is not going to be immediately available to you. Have you crafted a strategic plan to get there, or are you still simply reacting to the immediate situation without thinking beyond the moment? Stop looking for a “job” and start listening for an opportunity to “work and get paid”.

Pay attention to details. People are wonderful sources of information. Once you get past thinking “it is all about me”, you will be better able to hear clues about work conditions, retain helpful information to share with others,  and gain insight from others that could help you get unstuck. Stop asking for job leads and ask questions to learn about opportunities. This may sound cliché, but many people still don’t get it. Listening for problems, patterns, and trends can help you stay on track with the companies you are targeting and the solutions you are presenting. Things in today’s workplace change quickly. Problems arise and solutions are found through people that are astute enough to capture the opportunity, long before there is time to design and post a “job”.

Listen. Pay attention to details about someone’s background, interests, likes, and dislikes. Using the information and responding with sincerity and interest will help you develop relationships that could lead to information about those unpublished opportunities. If you currently only treat people as vehicles to get you to the hiring manager, you are on the wrong track.

If you are currently guilty of spending more time justifying why you can’t find a job, than the time you could take to work on a new angle, perhaps you need some help getting unstuck.

It would be great to hear from people that have found non-traditional means for finding their current employment, and have developed alternative strategies for achieving their career goals.

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4 Responses

  1. Jason Lang says:

    “If you are currently guilty of spending more time justifying why you can’t find a job, than the time you could take to work on a new angle, perhaps you need some help getting unstuck.”

    This is me.

    I moved to Sacramento last June, and since then, have found plenty of job _listings_, applied for them, and not heard a word. Dozens of jobs that were posted, I’m well qualified for, and yet, I don’t even get a rejection letter.

    I’ve reached out to the community. One of the first things I did when moving here was to research some of the firms in the area. I fired off an email to all of them, saying “hey, I’m new to the area, want some advice on what’s happening and where to go around there, and just any advice in general.” and got ZERO responses.

    I’ve gone to “networking” events. They are full of people who are in my particular boat, and very rarely have anyone who is capable of doing anything about it.

    I’ve gone through LinkedIn, stalked people who looked interesting there. Asked for help and advice from the various groups.

    …and yet. Here I am. Nearly a year later. Plenty of applications out. Not a single lead. I’ve talked with people. I’ve followed advice. And I’m still back to the same old “check job listings in the morning.” routine.

  2. Hi Jason,
    There is a key element is missing in this approach. In each instance, you have asked strangers for help. The first order of business would be to try the same events and show an interest in others without asking for something in return. Developing a relationship with a trusted few will typically fuel more favorable responses to your requests for help, later. On June 4 I’ll be delivering a webinar on Strategic Networking. It addresses how to adjust the approach you described, learn about opportunities before they are posted and highly competitive, and most importantly, how to develop relationships. (I’ll send info to you with details)

  3. wendy says:

    I would like information on the June 4 webinar as well. thanks.

  4. Hi Wendy,
    Thanks for writing. I’ve sent you information via direct email.

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