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Advice / Job Search / Finding a Job

5 Smart Moves to Make When Your Job Search Stalls

frustrated woman
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Looking for a new job can be quite the emotional roller coaster. You’ve put in hours of work perfecting your resume, tailoring each cover letter, and following up with the respective hiring managers a few weeks after submitting your applications—but you hear nothing back. Nothing.

It can be downright exasperating to feel stuck in your job search, but I have good news for you: There are things you can try to get the ball rolling again. Here are a few ideas.

1. Give Your Resume a Makeover

Recently, I’ve seen a lot of people forgo the basic resume in lieu of a more creative option. They change the colors, play with the font, and add some unique sections like a five-star rating system showing their proficiency in different skills.

You may be thinking, “but I’m not a graphic designer,” but that’s OK—a little sprucing can go a long way. Just think about when someone decorates her home with colorful lights around the holidays; you might not have given it a second thought before, but now your eyes are definitely drawn to it now. I, for example, just tweaked my name and the headings to help them stand out in a pile of black and white resumes.

And here’s some more good news: There are already some tools and templates available to help you.

And even when you’ve decided on a good template, don’t forget you can always modify the contents to best fit the field you’re applying to. If you’re attempting to land a marketing gig, for example, perhaps you’ll remove that line cook role you once had and only showcase the relevant positions.

2. Or Even Create Your Own Personal Website

You don’t need to own a business or write a blog to have your own website. Anyone can create one (check out mine below that I made using Squarespace—and just like a vamped up resume they can really help you stand out and land the job.

Personal websites not only provide a space for you to bring everything together in one place, but they also offer a preview of your personality, which is something a resume or cover letter just can’t always do as well. These days, with company culture becoming such a central ingredient to success, helping the hiring manager get to know you is often crucial.

Plus it’s so easy to share your site. You can add the link to your LinkedIn profile, place it in your email signature, and tweet it out in a hot second.

A resume website can take a lot of different forms, from a single page sharing your elevator pitch and social links to a full multimedia gallery of your professional work. If you’re ready to build one, check out the best 16 personal websites of 2016 for inspiration and this step-by-step guide to getting your site up and running, then head to Squarespace to get started.

3. Begin Your Cover Letters with a Story

No, no. I’m not suggesting that you start off with your own rendition of The Three Little Pigs. (Unless, of course, it relates to the application somehow.)

What I am recommending is to resist beginning with, “I’m writing to you because I’m extremely interested in the [Position Title].” I promise you, there’s nothing about this that’ll make you stand out.

“The hard truth,” says Sara McCord, Muse author, “is that if your letter looks like everyone else’s, the hiring manager will read it—and promptly forget it.”

Instead, start with a personal anecdote that relates to the position and why you’re applying. In an example from my last search (below), I led with a true story about a former colleague that helped me realize how important financial wellness—the mission of the company—truly is.

Similar to the steps above, doing this will help your cover letter stand out from a sea of sameness, but will also help the hiring manager connect with you on a personal level—and hopefully want to get to know you more.

Just make sure you don’t get too personal here. Keep your narrative brief—it shouldn’t be more than a few sentences—and try not to share something that’ll make the reader cringe. Remember: You’re trying to grab her attention and impress her, not creep her out.

4. Tell Someone New That You’re Looking

Sure, you’ve told your parents, your best friend, your boyfriend and the like that you’re looking for a new job. But there could easily be someone else in your network who knows of the perfect opportunity for you—but doesn’t even think to tell you because he doesn’t know you’re back on the market.

So, don’t be afraid to reach out to people outside your inner circle—like your super successful family friend or that random software engineer you met at an alumni event last month and had a nice conversation with—and let them know where you are and what you’re looking for.

Heck, I even had a friend who announced it on Facebook, and, lo and behold, he just got hired at a company one of his Facebook friends referred him to.

Of course, not everyone is in a situation to announce it to all their social media followers—things could get pretty awkward if you’re connected to your boss, a co-worker, or anyone who talks to them regularly. So unless you’re currently unemployed, this probably won’t be the right strategy for you. The point here is to approach people in your network who you haven’t thought to reach out to yet and send them a “help me find a job!” note.

5. Approach Your Search from a Different Angle

There are three terms I always, undoubtedly, type into the job search bar—“writer,” “health,” and “wellness.” After a few days of scrolling, I see the same postings over, and over, and over again. Sigh. I bet you’ve felt this way before, too.

But here’s the thing: Though job sites are becoming increasingly individualized (yay!), they still can’t read your mind and identify every gig you’d like or be a good fit for.

So, rather than typing in your same old terms, turn your search on its head. Seek out certain companies you’d like to work for and organizations that focus on topics you’re interested in (in and outside of work) instead of filtering by the nature of work you currently do.

For instance, I’m a health educator, social media guru, and writer, but I really love field hockey. Perhaps, next time, I’ll look into the USA Field Hockey team or the National Field Hockey League to see if they have any openings that appeal to me.

Are you an accountant who loves reading? Try looking at publishing houses or bookstores. I bet you they need someone good with numbers, too.

I hate this process, too, friend. But when you feel like things are stalling, don’t let it get you down. Keep pushing forward and try doing something different—like one (or all) of these five things.