How to Jumpstart a Stalled Job Search

New job seekers usually score several interviews fairly quickly, or at least hear from several recruiters soon after they post their resume. But if you’ve been searching for several months and interest seems to be waning, it’s time to ratchet things up.

Exhausted Runner“IT professionals who don’t address a stalled search face additional problems,” says Deborah Walker, a certified career management coach based in Washington State. “Employers don’t like to hire technical people who’ve been out of work for a long time.”

Seek an Objective Evaluation

First thing, ask an objective expert like a local recruiter or former boss for an honest evaluation of your resume and marketability, advises Cindy Edwards, an independent career coach and former software quality assurance analyst based in Bloomington, Minn.

Assess everything from the number of hits your resume has received to the strength of your technical skill set and interviewing prowess. That will help you identify malfunctions, gaps and communication issues that could be thwarting your search.

“I can usually spot the problem the second I look at the job seeker’s resume,” says Walker. “There’s a reason why employers and recruiters aren’t calling.”

The solution could be as simple as injecting additional keywords into your resume and online profile so recruiters can find you, or creating a functional resume to camouflage a spotty work history.

Screeners often overlook people who’ve worked with proprietary programs or older software, because many in HR don’t understand technology and use a technical checklist to select resumes. However, those problems are easily remedied with a little wordsmithing.

But in some cases, you’ll need to close skill or communication gaps to revive your search. For instance, it may be impossible to garner interest from IT managers without attending a boot camp, getting an additional certification or taking a crash course in interviewing or public speaking.

“IT professionals aren’t always the best communicators, and they may not realize that their poor interviewing skills or shyness is holding them back, unless they seek a candid outside opinion and make a concerted effort to be more assertive,” says Walker.

Stop Applying and Start Interacting

It may seem crazy to submit fewer applications when you need a job. But unless you have hot tech skills and target the right opportunities, you’re probably wasting your time. For example, one professional submitted over 100 applications without getting a single bite. So it’s no wonder that colleagues in the Dice Discussion boards suggested that he engage in “some good old-fashioned flesh-pressing” to revitalize his search. In other words, network.

Spend 80 percent of your time attending meet-ups, conferences, user groups and local technical council meetings, recommends Patricia Crew, a career counselor based in Potomac, Md. When you do get on the computer, build your network and search for new lead sources by participating in discussion forums, groups and online communities. If you submit your resume or application to targeted opportunities where you have a legitimate shot or connection, it should only take about 10 percent of your time.

Repackage Yourself

You may not like thinking of yourself as a product, but you’re just that when you’re job hunting. So remember that packaging is just as important as the product in attracting customers. Don’t overlook the need for a strong personal brand and a coordinated marketing effort. If your search stalls, it’s time to re-brand and re-launch your campaign.

Fly Above the Radar

Finally, attract attention by participating in social media and refreshing your resume and online profile every week. Whether it’s attending a free vendor webinar, adding new coding samples to your portfolio or scoring an endorsement from a colleague, use frequent announcements and updates to keep your search alive.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

5 Responses to “How to Jumpstart a Stalled Job Search”

  1. What do you do when you got laid off during the first year of the Obama Administration and been out of work since? What do you do when your a 99’er and have no other sources of income? What do you do with that IT degree that took 4 years and no one will give you the time of the day let alone an interview and you are now legally obligated to pay back huge sums of student loan debt? What do you do once these circumstances have forced a life of poverty and day to day problems prevent you from engaging in your job search the way it is described in this article. What if you have a family and small children with no additional caretakers or outside help?

    What do you do when your last job involved access to a company’s crown jewels and flying under the radar in info sec?
    What do you do when your whole network consist of people who still hold positions from your previous employer, who is not going to be hiring again any time soon?
    What do you do when your on the essential personal list during a wave of layoffs and any educational time or training for certifications has been barred and you missed out on that opportunity.

    What do you do when you come from a time when IT people simply did and those who did not have a clue ran out and got certifications and still couldn’t do the job when they got back?
    What do you do when the certifications employers want require you to actually be employed?
    What do you do when you cannot and will not use social networks?
    What do you do when you’ve been forced to live in rural Americana and can barely afford gasoline to get down to the store to buy food yet alone go ‘network’ meetings, council meetings, commerce meetings, and job fairs which are several hours drive away to the nearest metropolitan area?

    We have removed humans from the equation and allowed machines and algorithms to do the thinking for us. We are now teaching people to conform to the machine and take an otherwise just fine resume and translate it into machine readable form. This is a poor excuse all around for what amounts to lazy behavior, kudos to the snake oil salesman who have managed to sell this deceitful software. Truth is the amount of people applying for jobs has increased, and rather then actually hire people to read and sort through them and use real human judgement, it’s been written off completely to be fed through a single machine, and if you do not have the EXACT magic words, tough luck Jack better luck next time. Well that just means a whole LOT of people are going to slip through the cracks and real talent and skill will be buried on the far back burner. The shrinking market of jobs is already creating an exclusion based employment market to whereas if you are not on the inside track the track simply will not exist for you period.