Job searching is one of the most stressful parts of life, especially when you’re not having any luck. Below are four key recommendations from The Career Foundation’s career counsellors on how you can take your unsuccessful job search by the horns and start making progress.
1.) Be Self-Aware
You need to be realistic about your skillset, as well as what your actual potential in the current job market is. According to our counsellors, one of the most common problems they encounter is tunnel vision. Job seekers struggling to find work might be picky and only apply to jobs in a specific field. It might be painful at first, but examining your own qualifications and the job market, itself, is vital to your success!
If you don’t have much experience in a given field, the chances of getting a job in said field are extremely slim at best. If you do have a lot of experience but most or all of it took place outside of the country where you’re applying, it’s unlikely that you’ll get the job you want off the bat. And even if you do have enough domestic experience, the number of available jobs in many specialized fields fluctuates.
It comes down to: if you really need a job, don’t set your sights on just one! Every opportunity should be treated as a positive opportunity. Your ambitions are important, and you’ll get there with time. Broaden your horizons and be open-minded.
2.) Be Willing to Change
It will almost always be necessary to adapt somehow to an employer’s needs. That isn’t to say that you need to overhaul your entire personality — if that’s the case, then the job isn’t right for you — but be willing to change your personal or work habits in order to better serve them. In job interviews, employers will be reassured knowing you’re not set in your ways. Emphasize that you’re always grateful for constructive criticism and always eager to improve.
It’s not enough to ‘talk the talk,’ either. Once you get a job, a huge part of being retained is taking constructive criticism well and making subsequent changes to yourself and your work. Don’t let criticism deter you or throw you off, and don’t take it personally. Accept that you’re not perfect and listen thoroughly to what employers say and suggest: they’ll appreciate knowing you’re someone who can maturely take and respond to criticism.
3.) Put in the Effort — A Lot of It
It seems obvious, but a job won’t just fall into your lap. Clicking ‘Apply’ on as many postings as you can and hoping for the best is not effective if you actually want results. Creating a persuasive, viable application takes both effort and time. The age-old tips for applying to jobs are true: research the company, read the job posting thoroughly, and tailor your résumé and cover letter with key words from the posting and experiences or skills that are specifically related to the job. It may seem like a labourious process when you’re applying to multiple jobs in a row, but employers will value your effort.
Counsellors also recommend branching out from broad, general job boards like Indeed. While they may be simpler to use and appear to have more postings, industry-specific jobs boards will have postings that are much more related to your search if you want a specialized job. Looking for work in a non-profit? Try Charity Village. Maybe media is more your thing? Try Mediabistro. You can keep looking on Indeed, but make sure you’re actively searching on industry-specific boards and company sites as well.
4.) Learn to Accept Failure
Counsellors often see job seekers who “shut down” as soon as anything negative happens during their search — it could be a bad interview, a typo in a cover letter, or anything in between. If someone has a bad experience interviewing for a finance position, they may lose confidence or become angry and not look as hard or even give up their search for finance jobs out of fear, frustration or even embarrassment. Don’t let that be you.
Failure is just par for the course during the job hunt. You may not want to fail; however, you should become more comfortable with the idea of failure. It might feel difficult, but all failures lead to learning experiences. Stay positive and keep motivated. The best is yet to come!
Blythe Hunter is the Participant Services Representative with The Career Foundation’s Completing the Circle-Mississauga Program.