Tough is tough

Job hunting can be pure hard slog, every day. The really hard yards are when you're getting nowhere. It can feel like forever.

There's something you need to know about this situation, which is very common, too common for most people:

Most of the time, even if you're not actually making mistakes, you're doing one of several things that just don't work:

  • Looking in the wrong place
  • Using the wrong methods
  • Interview technique is wrong, or not working
  • Going for the wrong jobs
  • Psyching yourself out
  • Overdoing the job applications
  • Not doing enough research

The effect is exactly like beating your head against a brick wall.

You know the symptoms, lots of applications, few if any interviews, and the grind just goes on. Totally useless situation.

So don't do that.

Just to make things a bit more infuriating, sometimes the amount of effort being made is the main reason that the brick wall seems so hard.

Job hunters put in a lot of effort, more than most people would believe, trying to get work. The effort is continuous, and they'll go for anything. Every possible thing that can be done is done.

The trouble is that amount of effort often means they're doing more trying than thinking.

Quality suffers, and some of the effort is unnecessary and could be directed at doing something more productive.

There tends to be less planning and forward looking, too.

That's understandable in terms of trying to get out of the hole, but it's also a case of not doing things that really need doing.

There's so much work involved in job hunting. Between being dazzled by endless web pages and driven quietly up the wall by trying to do good applications, remember passwords and trying to send the right application to the right employer, not much time is left for thinking.

But it's not helping if it's not getting anywhere. This is a particularly vicious circle, and you need to get yourself out of it, pronto.

Enough is enough

If you're getting nowhere, you need to reassess your ideas, and your whole approach. Obviously, something isn't working properly.

  • Looking in the wrong place

This is the all time classic problem. Sometimes going for a job like the one you had before is going backwards. Remember, when you had that job, the next move was to another, better paying job? That's the job you need. It also makes up for the time being unemployed, to some extent. You might need to sharpen things up a bit, update skills, etc, but that's all doable. If you put your mind to it, you'll find you do have a lot of ideas about how to do that, because you already have the previous experience. Use your experience, and you're OK.

You may have other job possibilities using those skills, too, so don't confine yourself to one job when you could go for ten. Be selective, go for obviously good jobs, and check what the employer wants, wherever possible. Take your time and make sure you do put in a really good application. At least that way you know the effort is being made properly.

  • Using the wrong methods

Arguably the most annoying of the standard problems, you may find that your applications are using outdated, or incorrect formats. Many applications are now electronically checked, and it's quite possible you're putting in applications which are either not using keywords relating to essential criteria. When they get to the cull stage, you also need to have all your claims to the job on your CV and your cover letter.

(Have a look around our site, too, get some ideas, and you can get your CV checked on our Forum. It costs nothing, and you can get some ideas, at least. You may be doing something easily fixed, or just need some pointers.)

  • Interview technique is wrong, or not working

This can be a real problem, and if you're really worried about your interview techniques, you might need some assistance. You can get some practice in interview techniques pretty easily from trainers, and really, the more the better. Some people don't adapt too well to the interview environment, and it really is important to be able to function properly.

  • Going for the wrong jobs

This is very common. You've done that sort of work before, you know your stuff, and you don't seem to be getting too many results from your applications. The short answer is that you really are going for the wrong jobs.

Start looking at related jobs using the same skill set. Don't get stuck in the rut of a one track career path. The idea is more opportunities, not less, after all.

  • Psyching yourself out

If you really want to sabotage yourself, this is how. There are any number of reasons for not getting interviews or jobs. Remember other people, by definition, think differently, too. You may not be getting jobs or interviews, but that doesn't necessarily make you wrong, either.

There are no certainties in the employment market. You can check out with the employer why you didn't get an interview, and if you keep getting the same response, that's the problem.

However- If you get a reply like There were so many applicants, you need to shine up your applications. For some reason your applications aren't getting noticed, and if you have the qualifications, you have to redraft.

Do not, repeat not, allow yourself to worry yourself into a state of failure. Find the problems, and fix them. Don't tolerate any guesswork.

  • Overdoing the job applications

Have you noticed that doing so many applications seems to result in a lot of mistakes? You have to fix typos, get the right addressees, and put the right headings on things? You were horrified to see that you'd put even the wrong name of the job on your cover letter?

You really are overdoing it. The amount of work, not the number of applications, is the key. The level of detail, the different criteria and things you have to address is the real degree of difficulty.

Because it's so easy to do so many applications, that's where the problems start. Things get mixed up, not least of which are yourself and your focusing abilities. If you have to physically get out of the place to avoid this, do it.

The assembly line approach to job applications just doesn't work. It creates your own private bureaucracy, to start with. You can find yourself spending more time trying to find your applications when on the phone to someone than you need. You can find you've actually deleted things you need, or other real joys. The overall effect is a chronic mess.

Give yourself a break, work at your own speed, where you can stay focused and stay sane. Don't expect to become an expert at doing job applications, and don't make it your life's work, either. One good application is worth a thousand bad ones.

  • Not doing enough research

The inevitable result of not doing enough research is a problem.

Either you're

  • Going for a job where you have no chance of getting that job,
  • You're sending the wrong information, or
  • You're in the process of creating a situation where you can be totally sidetracked into some sort of non-job.

Not knowing anything about a job is a potential horror story. You can apply for anything, and not really know what it is. It's bad enough that you've wasted your time if nothing happens, but you can also suddenly find yourself committed to something where you're almost totally ignorant. That can occasionally mean getting a truly lousy job.

If this sounds like more trouble than it's worth, it is. In this case you've provided the brick wall for yourself. There is a very real risk with some of the jobs you see on the net and elsewhere, which are things which are quite useless as jobs.

It's also a total waste of time. You're using up time and space on a non-event.

These are all real killers, if you don't get yourself out of the routine. Whatever's causing the lack of results, find it, fix it, and get moving.

If you see a brick wall, go around it.