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Advice / Job Search / Finding a Job

9 Smart Moves to Make When Nothing’s Going Right in Your Job Search

Your job search is dragging on—and on—and nothing seems to be clicking. You’re sending out a massive number of applications, and no one is calling you in for an interview. Or you’re landing a ton of interviews, but you’re never getting an offer.

It’s disheartening, and you may be tempted to give up, because what you’re doing just isn’t working. But instead of throwing in the towel, check out these nine tips to shake up your routine: They could just make the difference.

1. Go Back to the Drawing Board

In her article How to Apply for Fewer Jobs (But Land More Interviews), Muse Writer Kristen Walker shares the “‘nine-out-of-10’ rule.” The idea is that you only apply to jobs that you like enough to rank as a nine, on a 10-point scale.

This way, you can redirect the energy you’re spending applying to positions you’re only slightly interested toward ones you really want. It’ll give you more time to research companies, tailor applications, and prepare and follow-up during each stage of the process. This should eliminate the feeling of futility that your resumes are going nowhere.

2. Revisit the Basics

Maybe you’ve been doing a good job of focusing your search, but you still aren’t seeing the results you’d like. The next step is to re-check the fundamentals. Are you following directions to a T? Are you proofreading all of your materials from your resume to your cover letter to your email correspondence?

I know it’s not fair, but spelling mistakes and typos can count against you. So can misspelling the hiring manager’s name, or sending a multi-page resume. Don’t just assume your materials are good to go, read them, then read them again.

3. Reach Out to a Friend

It’s not easy to edit your own cover letter. A second set of eyes is always preferable. So, ask someone else to look your application over (even better if it’s someone in the industry you’re applying to).

Friends aren’t just great editors, they’re also a vital part of your network. Know someone who works at your dream job? Ask him to put in a good word for you, or at the very least, if he has any insider scoop on submitting a successful application.

4. Ask for Feedback

Maybe you’re getting interviews, but at a certain point you stall—every time. In this instance, the best person to consult may be the hiring manager who just shot you down. When you ask for feedback, you might not always get helpful information, but you just may learn something about how you’re coming off that’ll help you in future hiring processes.

It can be nerve-wracking, but you really don’t have anything to lose, and you stand to gain a lot.

5. Consult a Pro

Maybe the interviewer was no help, your friends have their own opinion about whether you should leave your good position, and you’d like expert advice from an unbiased third-party. You should definitely consider scheduling a session with a career coach.

From discussing job search and networking strategy, to helping you revise your resume and LinkedIn profile, career coaches’ motivation—and expertise—is helping you succeed.

6. Update Your Social Media Profiles

Speaking of LinkedIn, when’s the last time you checked in with your profile? Do you keep meaning to set aside time to give it a makeover—but then never do? Great news: You can update it in just 30 minutes! (Here are some more great tips for writing a stand-out summary and fleshing it out beyond your resume bullets.)

While you’re at it, make sure all of your social media profiles show off the best you by deleting an inflammatory posts, double-checking your privacy settings, and seeing if there are meaningful ways you can engage with others.

7. Reach out to Someone New

In Five Ways Twitter Can Help You Reach Your Career Goals, Muse Writer Lily Herman discusses how to use the site to find work, get noticed, and network with new people. Whether you’re more inclined to network online or off, it may be that you’re limiting yourself to the same circles and the same scope of information.

With your clarity about what you’d like to do, your typo-free resume, and impressive social pages, you’re prepared to talk to someone new about your professional aspirations—so do it.

8. Stretch Out of Your Comfort Zone

Once you’ve taken the time to make sure all of your materials are perfect, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. For example, you have your basic cover letter template on lock, so now you’re pretty much just swapping in company names and relevant details. Or, you’ve rehearsed the stories you’ll tell in interviews, and you tell the same ones every time. Or you’ve decided you’ll network through a certain site, event, or professional group and that’s where you go, over and over again.

Routine is good—unless it isn’t working for you. What do you have to lose by taking a risk? If you always play it safe, try one of these cover letter openings. Or consider a creative resume. Do something to shake things up.

9. Take a Break

Burnout doesn’t just happen on the job, it happens on the search too. Looking around the clock, during any free moment you have, is not sustainable—especially if your search is dragging on.

I know you don’t want to miss out on any opportunities, and I’m not suggesting you stop looking altogether. But try to find a way to bring things into balance. If you’re devoting all of the time you previously spent with friends and on hobbies to scouring the internet for listing, move to a 50-50 split. Stepping away from your application may give you some much-needed perspective so you can see a new way to go about things.

One of the hardest things about job searching is that you can’t make it happen a given way, on a given timeline. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit back and wait. Try the nine moves above to see if you can’t troubleshoot your hiring process and see better results.

Photo of frustrated person courtesy of Caiaimage/Paul Viant/Getty Images.

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