Job search stalled? Here are the resume, interview and networking tips you need to get back on track

Monday, March 13, 2023

How many times have you said, “I need a new job” and then done nothing about it? Or have you embarked on a new job search full of optimism only to have it stall out?

There’s only one word to describe what’s happening: Stuck.

That’s right, stuck. We’ve all been there. So how do you get unstuck?

First up, you have to figure out how — and where — you’re held up. Are you unable to start your job search? Or are you not getting any interviews or offers?

“There could be somebody who’s sending in 400 applications and they could say they feel stuck, and there’s somebody who’s on the other end of the spectrum saying, ‘I haven’t sent anything in because I don’t know what I want and I don’t know what to do and I don’t know what to write and I just feel like if I take a step it might be wrong and I’m scared to take any steps,’” said career coach Natalie Fisher.

Regardless, it’s easy to get discouraged and start circling the drain of self-doubt and hopelessness.

Great news! None of that is necessary. (Or helpful, really.) There are definitely ways to get unstuck.

If you’re having trouble achieving liftoff, getting your job search started, Fisher recommends asking yourself a few questions:

  • What are you avoiding?
  • What are you scared of?
  • What is really the problem?
  • What’s the worst that can happen if you send that application?

“Probably … you’ll be in the same situation you are now, so probably nothing big is going to happen,” Fisher said. “But we don’t really walk ourselves through that so we’re like, ‘Agh! What If I get rejected? What if I get judged? What if I have a typo on my resume and I lose the opportunity forever?’”

It seems like a lot of times we get in our own way. Maybe we are perfectionists. Or we have a fear of rejection. So we feel paralyzed and don’t take any action.

If you are actively on the hunt but not getting anywhere, Gorick Ng, a Harvard career advisor and author of “The Unspoken Rules,” breaks it down into three key categories where you may be stuck:

  1. Figuring out which jobs to pursue
  2. Securing an interview
  3. Getting past the interview to a job offer

“It’s easy to get into a downward spiral” in your job search, Ng explains. You start feeling bad about what you’re not doing, then you feel bad about feeling bad. But really, you’re just stuck.

So, how do you get unstuck?

“First, you need to find a general direction. If you don’t have a direction, you can’t tailor your resume; you also can’t speak with conviction in an interview; and you definitely can’t stay motivated,” Ng said. “This is why so many people spend hours aimlessly clicking ‘submit’ with no results to show.”

If you’re stuck at No. 1, unsure of what jobs to pursue, Ng said you should ask yourself these four questions:

  • “Where do I actually want to work?”
  • “What do I actually want to do?”
  • “Where do I want to be long term — and what next role would best put me on the path toward what I want to do long term?”
  • “Where do I have the best odds?”     

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