Tired, discouraged, feeling like you'll never find a job? Need a job, but nothing you do seems to be working?
When job searches extend months or even longer, it can be hard to stay motivated and positive about the experience. That's particularly true if you make it through multiple rounds of interviews, but still don't land a role.
While it's hard to persist, doing so is essential if you want to find a job. And not only do you need to continue to put in the work—researching companies, scanning for job openings, and filling out applications—but you'll need to do it with confidence in yourself. After all, you'll know how to highlight your skills, abilities, and experience throughout the application process, from cover letters to phone screens to interviews.
What to Do When Your Job Search Isn't Working
Here are tips that can help you re-engage in your job search with fresh enthusiasm or try out new approaches that might lead to greater success.
Expand Where You Look
When you're having a tough time finding a job, or even finding jobs to apply for, it's important to expand your job search. Don't limit yourself to applying for the jobs you find posted online.
Expanding your job search will help you find unadvertised openings and enable you to proactively seek employment at companies of interest.
Companies may be hiring that don't post job listings other than internally, on their company website. Sometimes, they may also collect an ongoing “pool” of applicants who they may approach should they find they need an employee with particular expertise in the future.
Make a Target List of Companies
If you don't have a target list of companies yet—a shortlist of employers you would be thrilled to work for—it's worthwhile taking the time to research company information and create a list of companies to target in your job search. All the information you need is available on the web, and it's easy to find detailed information about potential employers online.
Once you have a list, the next step is to reach out to contacts at the company:
- Use LinkedIn's companies section as a tool to find company information. You'll be able to see your contacts at the company, new hires, jobs posted, and company statistics.
- Check the company website and search for the company online to find more contacts at the employer who could potentially be interested in hiring you.
- If you're a college graduate, check with your career services or alumni office to see if you can get a list of alumni to network with.
How to Use Your Connections
Start actively working those contacts to get a foot in the door. Try these strategies:
Send a message. Send an email (or a LinkedIn message) to the individual you would potentially be reporting to. The email should be company-specific, mention the issues they are facing, and how your background can help them. Keep it short—long emails can feel overwhelming.
As an example, if you are a salesperson: "In my previous position as sales manager, I was able to grow sales at a higher rate than the industry average. I know that your company is trying to aggressively outpace the category, and, given my experience, I can help you accomplish that."
"Intro and More" is a good Subject Line for your message or LinkedIn InMail.
Make a phone call. Follow up by phone with companies that you have already emailed. Call the person you emailed the previous week. The follow-up call should state why you are interested in working at that company and how your background can add value now.
Take Advantage of Your Network
Make it a goal to meet with someone in your network that you haven't seen in a while. This can be over coffee either in their office or at a coffee shop. (If that's not an option, set up a virtual coffee date over video software.)
In these types of one-on-one, more intimate settings, people will tell you things that they would never say in an email or over the phone. Let them know what you are doing and what you are looking for. Offer to help them with something they may need. This will help you stay “top of mind” with them.
Also, ask them for the name of at least one other person you can be introduced to. This will significantly expand your network.
Meet Like-Minded People
Try connecting on social media with people employed in your industry, or at companies you want to work for. Start a conversation and see if it can lead to a deeper connection. Also, look to meet with people who are, like you, out of work and exchange ideas on what is working and not working in your job search.
Networking is a powerful tool in your job search—consider devoting as much time to connecting with others as you do to sending out job applications.
Have a Plan for Every Day and Week
Set reasonable plans for yourself—maybe that's a number of applications a week or reaching out to one contact a month. Just make sure your goals are reasonable. Otherwise, you risk feeling discouraged.
Limit Your Time, So You Don't Burn Out
Spending the entire day job searching can get exhausting and unpleasant. Don't overdo it! Decide what's a reasonable amount of time to spend looking for a new job, and hit pause for the day once you've hit the limit.
Some people find it helpful to block out time on the calendar for a job search.
Try Something New
Volunteering, learning a new skill, or devoting yourself to a side hustle will all keep you feeling engaged. And these activities might also further your chances of landing a new role, too. After all, you could learn skills that are helpful in a role or make a connection with someone who knows someone looking to fill a role.
Reach Out for Help
Job searching often feels like a solo task. But if it feels like nothing you're doing is working, it might be time for a new approach. You can reach out to friends, family, and current or former colleagues for advice or a read-through on your resume or cover letters. A job or career coach can sometimes be helpful as well.