Feeling Defeated? Rethink Job Search Strategy in Today’s World of Work

In my work with job seekers, one common struggle I see is the temptation to give up on the job search after the first couple of setbacks. This is understandable, and I have been there myself.

It is frustrating, to say the least, when you’ve worked extra hard and long hours to incorporate a job search into your busy life in order to improve your situation only to get a “no thanks” or worse, silence.

Whether it’s been twenty years since your last job search or whether you’ve been trying cutting-edge ways of searching for the last year, it may be helpful to take a fresh look at today’s world of work.

First, consider these insights into the landscape of the ever-changing job market that exists today:


  • Multiple studies have shown that approximately 90% of employers are already using social media to seek top talent to join their teams.
  • 80% of jobs come through networking efforts rather than other passive means.
  • The 8am-5pm work day is fading a bit into the background as alternative modes of work are surfacing such as contractors, freelance work, portfolio careers, technology’s demand for a 24/7 workplace expectation, and increasing globalization of work.
  • The economy is still rough. In general, job seekers outnumber job openings.
  • More and more, employees are being sought regarding how they think, rather than what they think or exclusively what they have done.
  • Most people will have several jobs in multiple industries in their lifetime. Resilience and the ability to transition and reinvent yourself is a key factor to success.

So, what does all of this mean for you?
Hang it up? Grab a bag of Cheetos and a cold beer and give in to the couch? Resort to begging people to hire you? No. afraid

You just need a strategy that helps you succeed in today’s world of work. Sometimes, the advice I hear given to job seekers sounds tiring and intimidating, and I’ve been guilty of prescribing the same advice with the same tone as well. “It is another full-time job to search for a job!” “You have to get out there and pound the pavement!” “By the time a position is posted, employers already know who they want to hire!”

So, much of this is actually true, though we need a new lens for this information. A competitive job search is possible, and it is possible for you. No, you cannot just bring a hammer to this party and expect that every opportunity will pop up as a nail. In fact, if you only bring a hammer, you might eventually get somewhere, though you will probably have to work a lot harder for much longer than those who are engaged with new strategies and new tools. Why use a spoon to spend years digging a tunnel to your new life when there are ways to get the warden to open the gate?

The reality is that you have to work within your current circumstances to some extent. There is no point in calling upon yourself to develop super human strength. You’re wonderfully human, and so is everyone else. The point is to remember that if you let fear and bewilderment keep you from doing anything, then most likely, nothing will happen.

The number one piece of advice for staying in the game in your job search today is to make networking and connectivity to the job market a lifestyle choice, rather than a passive or reactive choice. The companies who excel at talent management stay in a recruiting mode. You want to stay in a networking mode.


This means:


  • Don’t just look for a job when you think you might want to make a change or have a frustrating day at your current job.
  • Engage in social networking. When you meet someone of interest professionally, invite them to join your network on LinkedIn, for example. Follow companies via social media. Interact professionally.
  • Remember friends and family who may be connected to people in influential positions regarding your interests. Don’t count them out because they are a friend of a friend. This is networking in action!
  • Spend very little time on large job boards, and do NOT employ the strategy of sending out 100 resumes and feeling like you’ve “done your search for the day”. If you find a position on a job board, get to work networking for that position. Never submit your resume on a job board and expect to sit back and see anything happen.
  • Follow Up! Offer your business cards often and follow up after key conversations. A simple “nice to meet you” email goes a long way, whether you’re looking for a position now or not.
  • If someone offers to review your resume for a current or future position, send it to them within 24-hours. If you don’t hear from them after a week, YOU should send them a follow-up email of thanks and for any status updates.
  • When you come across an opportunity to join a networking event, dinner, social mixer etc… challenge yourself to say “yes” more often than “no”.
  • Schedule informational interviews in person or over the phone. When you admire someone for their professional position or success, request a brief conversation and ask them about their success story.


You might be a high performer/high achiever, and you may be used to getting almost everything you want, being the first chosen, and feeling like a workplace superstar. Great! Today’s job market is more competitive than ever before. If you do not receive an offer based on your first few pursuits, do not let your superstar identity tell you you’ve failed and cause you to quit searching. The resilience to reframe failure is another key factor to progress in your job search. Don’t let the first few non-offers or non-opportunities define you or your job search.

Having been a recruiter myself, I know it is often not possible for a candidate to know why they did not receive a job offer. It is not always even for the reasons you would guess. Sometimes, an internal candidate takes precedence over external candidates, sometimes a manager’s connection gets the job, and sometimes the definition of the needs for the job change. In addition, give yourself a lot of credit if you know you were among the top candidates for a position. That should tell you that there is a lot you are doing that is right.


Big Take-Away:


As a recruiter, I’ve seen stellar candidates walk out of the door after a rejection, and I wondered what their next steps would be. I’ve also seen excellent candidates declare their desire to work for a company, and they kept knocking on the door, generating relationships, and following up so persistently that the company couldn’t wait to find a position for them. I’ve seen great candidates dismayed when a hiring manager changed their tone at the last minute. I’ve seen job searches come to a screeching halt when a recruiter’s enthusiasm for a candidate fell silent.

These situations will happen. You have to know yourself and keep showing up. At the end of the day, the people who are hired are the ones who keep showing up. You don’t have to run a record-breaking sprint every day, but keep showing up.

As a wise fan of Jillian Michaels stated about her journey to successful weight loss, “No one else can want it bad enough for you.”


And to that I add…




Where will you show up next?


(Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, www.careerbuilder.com, National Association of Colleges and Employers, www.48days.com, Wall Street Journal, Talent Management Magazine, and Dricker (2000), “Managing Knowledge Means Managing Oneself”, www.jillianmichaels.com)


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