Most of us have probably experienced a point in our job search when it seems like it’s going nowhere.
Regardless of the time and effort you’ve invested in your search, you still feel like nothing has paid off. Especially if your search is taking longer than you anticipated, you’re probably wondering where you went wrong.
After the recession, the average length of time it took an individual to secure a job doubled from five weeks to 10 weeks. This is worrisome for many job seekers because this time can definitely cost you in other aspects of your life, such as a lack of steady income.
If you’ve found your job search to take longer than you anticipated, there’s a chance you’re making some mistakes holding you back from landing a job. To help you find more clarity in your search, here are some solutions to turn it around for the best:
Mistake #1: You aren’t prepared for your search
When you lack a strategy for your job search, it’s easy to feel like you’re wandering aimlessly through job boards and postings. Every job seeker needs to have a goal followed up with a plan. If you find yourself randomly applying for jobs and not following up with each application, then you’re lacking the preparation you need for a successful search.
Solution: Create a strategy.
The key to turning around your job search is beginning with the end in mind. Ask yourself where you want to be in the next six months, upcoming year, and even five years from now. Once you have an idea of where you want to be in the future, search for opportunities that will help you accomplish those goals.
As you begin applying for jobs, staying organized is essential. You can start by creating bookmark folders and a spreadsheet to keep track of jobs you’ve applied for and ones you’d like to apply for. You should also begin building a list of contacts who can help you during your search, too. This way, you’ll know exactly who to contact when trying to network your way into a position.
Mistake #2: You don’t have examples of your work readily on hand
The majority employers will expect you to show them what you’ve accomplished as you apply for jobs and attend interviews. If you don’t have copies of your best work conveniently located, it could definitely set you back during your search.
Solution: Create a folder on your desktop for your portfolio.
A good way to keep all of your work organized is to create a designated desktop folder for your portfolio. This way you can easily locate samples of your work when you apply for jobs online or an employer requests one. It’s not uncommon to find ourselves sifting through our hard drives to find our best work. By keeping everything centrally located, you’ll be more efficient when applying for jobs.
Mistake #3: You attend networking events in groups
Although networking events and job fairs are great opportunities to make connections, they can also be counterproductive. A common problem job seekers run into is attending these events in groups. When this happens, you end up doing less networking than you would if you went by yourself because you tend to gravitate towards the people you arrived with.
Solution: Go solo or schedule private meetings with employers.
As scary as it may sound, consider going to a networking event by yourself. This will force you to step outside of your comfort zone to talk with employers and make connections.
Another option is to set up informational interviews with employers. If you’re feeling intimidated by attending a large networking event by yourself, meeting an employer at their office or for coffee can be a much more comfortable setting for conversation.
Mistake #4: Not taking responsibility for your search
It’s easy to blame outside factors such as the economy or employers for your unsuccessful job search. However, when you have this attitude, you’re actually setting yourself up for failure. Many job seekers don’t take responsibility for their job search because they easily feel discouraged when things don’t go right. This is probably one of the largest setbacks you can create for yourself during your search.
Solution: Be proactive.
Instead of wallowing in your failures or fears, you need to turn that energy into a positive attitude. For example, if you’ve received interviews but haven’t had any job offers, consider following up with the interviewer to find out where you went wrong. This feedback will help you learn where you need to improve for your next interview.
Mistake #5: Being self-absorbed in your job search
As you attend networking events, job fairs, or interviews, it’s easy to become self-absorbed. There’s a lot of pressure as a job seeker to sell yourself to employers, however, it’s possible to sell yourself a little too much.
Job seekers who are self-absorbed are individuals who only talk about themselves or don’t answer the right questions during interviews. Sure, employers want to learn what you have to offer, but on the same note, they also want to hear your interest in your company.
Solution: Step back and evaluate your situation.
Job seekers finding themselves focused too much on selling their skills to employers should step away from their search and evaluate their progress. It’s important to take an objective look at your search because it can help you find the roadblocks you’ve been creating for yourself.
Start your evaluation by making a list of the positive and negative things you find yourself doing with your search. For example, let’s say you have a flawless resume and cover letter which has landed you numerous interviews. However, prior to the interview you do very little research on the employer. You’ll discover that this mistake in your preparation could be holding you back from landing the job.
If you find yourself making some of these mistakes, it’s not too late to turn around your job search. Whether you’ve been on the first for two weeks or two months, searching for a job is a learning process. You’re going to discover what works best for you and what employers want. Just remember to be attentive to your search and be aware of mistakes you could be making.
Heather Huhman writes for Glassdoor.com.