At one point during my last job search, I lost count of how many days went by without an interview. And as much as I wanted to say I was doing just peachy, the truth was that having nothing on my calendar was taking a toll on me. I get a lot of energy from being around people, so the fact that I had nowhere to be but the little desk in our living room made me feel like a complete failure.
Fast-forward to today and that experience makes me confident enough to say two things. For starters, people in a similar situation are absolutely not failures. But even more importantly, there are some pretty common lies that are easy to believe when you’re constantly striking out.
Since you’re reading this right now, here are a few things I have a feeling you’re thinking right this second.
1. I Need to Apply to More Jobs to Increase My Odds
Sometimes, job openings can seem like lottery tickets. When you need to find something ASAP, it’s even easier to look at the number of positions you’ve applied for and say, “I need to double that number to increase my chances of landing one of them.” And when that happens, you end up spending an entire day sending out typo-ridden resumes and badly-tailored cover letters just for the sake of being able to say you did “everything you could” to find your next gig.
What to Do Instead
Instead of applying for more jobs, take a closer look at the positions you’ve applied for recently. You might find that some of them aren’t actually aligned with your career goals. In other cases, you’ll discover that you made a critical error on your application that cost you the interview. No matter what you find, do a little homework on your past applications before you start blasting out more to out to any company that happens to be hiring.
2. I Have it Pretty Good at My Current Job
When all you’re getting is radio silence, it’s easy to look at your current role with rose-colored glasses and assume that it’s a sign that you should stay put. I’ve been there myself. Ask any one of my closest friends, and they’ll tell you about a time when I said that even though my job at the time kept me up all night, that at least I was able to make my rent. And when nobody’s reaching out to schedule any interviews, it’s easy to take this lie as proof that it’s time to pump the brakes on trying to find something new.
What to Do Instead
A friend of mine forced me at one point to write down everything I disliked about my position. Not just hypothetically, and not just during a general brainstorming session. I mean I got a pen and pad out of my desk, gave myself 30 minutes to think about my job, and write down what I couldn’t stand about it.
At the end of the exercise, I realized that it was time to start pursuing new opportunities ASAP. This might sound silly, but seeing your biggest grievances written down in ink is a pretty good motivator to keep grinding during a long hunt.
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3. There’s Nothing I Can Do to Change This
When things aren’t going your way, simply getting an interview on the calendar can seem impossible. And as the days (sometimes, weeks) go by with nothing but radio silence, it’s natural to assume that you’re not hearing back from employers because you’re just the worst candidate on the face of the earth. Of course, that couldn’t be further from the truth—but when you have nothing to look forward to, it’s hard to believe otherwise.
What to Do Instead
This might sound counterintuitive, but I found that it was incredibly helpful at these junctures to take a break from my hunt. I had a really hard time being productive (let alone find openings I actually wanted) when I was so down on myself. If you’re currently employed, take a day to focus 100% on your current role, even if you hate what you’re doing.
Or, if you’re unemployed, take an afternoon to catch up on something you enjoy doing. This might sound like a step in the wrong direction, but you’ll be more inspired to get back on the grind after you take a second to catch your breath.
But in the event that you still need a little kick in the pants to shake the feeling that you can’t change your situation, consider hiring a career coach to help you understand why you’re not getting any responses.
No matter where you are in your job search, it’s hard to look at your calendar and see absolutely nothing on the docket. Of course, there are a few things about your approach you could consider adjusting.
But no matter how many (or how few) interviews you have lined up, don’t let yourself believe that things will be like this forever. Find the help you need, take a few beats to collect your thoughts, and attack the search like you and I both know you can attack it.
Photo of person defeated courtesy of Squaredpixels/Getty Images.
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy or follow his blog.More from this Author