Why Haven’t You Started Your Job Search?

The economy is improving and the unemployment rate in IT remains dramatically low—2.6 percent during 2014’s third quarter, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Developers, engineers and security specialists are in high demand. For tech professionals, it would seem like an ideal time to look for a new job.

So why do some hesitate?

The reasons vary, recruiters suggest. Of course, some people are happy where they are; but others who’ve kept their skills current, worked on cutting-edge projects and had a real business impact will sometimes stay in place, foregoing the opportunity to increase their salary and experience. No matter how favorable conditions seem, they can never quite get themselves to send out their résumé or even put out the word to their network.

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In some cases, people trip themselves up in a quest for perfection, said Ben Hicks, a partner at search firm WinterWyman in Waltham, Mass. “Some people want everything perfect: the exact right company, location, pay, benefits, people on the team.” In other cases, they’re forever revising their résumés, believing that one more draft will get that document to some optimal point. In still others, they’re waiting for the perfect time to make a move—after their next bonus comes through, or as soon as their current project is completed, or…

The risks of falling into such patterns are evident. The most obvious is you’ll remain at your current job, possibly long past the time when it would have been right to leave. And while the economy is gaining strength now, at some point fortunes will change and the candidate-driven job market will revert to one where employers have the advantage.

This quasi-job search—where you’re perpetually thinking of moving, but not actively looking—can be distracting, Hicks points out. When people end up in a long, frustrating process, they can neglect things that are important in the here and now, such as their work, company and health.

What to Do

Does any of the above sound familiar? If you want to make a move but seem to be stalled in your efforts…

  • Take a step back. Sometimes you need to pause and take an honest, self-reflective look at your situation. If you’re convinced it’s time for a move, but your résumé never seems quite right or no position looks like a good fit, ask yourself whether your expectations are realistic. Try to identify what parts of a job are the most important to you, and consider where you’d be comfortable compromising.
  • Think about your long-term goals. Are you clear about the type of position you’re looking for and the kind of company you’d like to join? For example, if your heart’s in the startup world and you’re only looking at jobs with brand-name companies, that could explain why nothing’s getting you excited. Be sure that you’re matching your job search to the career path you want to pursue.
  • Talk to someone. Maybe there’s a colleague with whom you can sit down, or a career coach, or a recruiter you like. Whoever it is, sometimes it helps to have a conversation about where you want your career to go, as well as your near-term goals. Hicks believes this is another way to help you identify areas where you’re comfortable compromising.

Job searches don’t always have a clear start. “Most people don’t wake up one day and decide they’re going to look for a new position,” Hicks noted. “They dip a toe in the water.” As a result, many job seekers don’t think through their objectives and compromises—even though they need to do just that.

As Hicks points out, sometimes having that conversation with yourself can lead to the realization that you shouldn’t change jobs: “Coming to the realization more quickly is better.” Doing so will save you from wasting time on a job search when you don’t really want to make a move.

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Image: Paul Schlemmer/Shutterstock.com

10 Responses to “Why Haven’t You Started Your Job Search?”

  1. Me again

    “The economy is improving and the unemployment rate in IT remains dramatically low”
    I really don’t think it’s us (the job seekers). It’s the companies are not hiring. There’s a lot of individuals including myself who want to go into this field, but the IT field has a resistance to hiring true entry-level individuals and allowing them to do OJT or prove themselves. There has to be someway to combat catch 22 for those of us that have a genuine interest with the aptitude to be successful going into this field. I’ve applied to several of these positions with no success.

    • It’s not just entry level. IT is an absolute wasteland and I’ve been in it longer than DICE has been around. You’re better off learning to develop apps for Android or IOS. Those jobs aren’t perfect but at least they’re plentiful and you can usually get more flexibility like work from home, etc.

  2. Here’s what I sent to a recruiter just recently:
    Hello K P,

    If I submit to your company my CV with my name encrypted like
    KrM the XXL IT Linux/UNIX/ Any .nix OS specialist,
    are you going to buy it ?!
    The only purpose it to try to show how the e-mail with a job was written like…

  3. Mark, what are you talking about I have been looking for a software development job for two years. I have 4 years of software development experience, I have a Master Degree in Computer Science and I’ve taken pluralsight course(s) to keep my skill set relevant. Yet when I send apply to job(s) I believe I’m qualified I don’t even get a response. I can take all of the course(s) I want but if I have not used them in a paying job it does not count as experience. In fact I even applied for a government development job and they will substitute your education for experience — IF YOU HAVE A Phd.

    • Agree100%. Experience is everything, unfortunately. I’m also developing skills on my own to get experience, but it’s worthless. I think it should count more if you do it on your own because it shows motivation.

  4. What planet or perhaps more correctly what decade is this guy talking about?
    Maybe in Silicon Valley or in the Northeast some of this is true but I’m not seeing any evidence of employers clamoring for new IT workers. All I’ve seen is the same resume stacking BS that 90% of the posters on Dice (who happen to be recruiting firms) have been pulling on for years.

    Let’s not forget the uptick in false postings that have shown up recently. At least once a week I click on a posting that’s been removed. These postings are less than 12 hours old as well so what’s up with that? Just testing the waters? Well thanks for nothing guys.

    How about more articles about beating HR departments at their own game instead of getting blamed for not being perfect enough for some insecure wackadoodle IT manager.

  5. Jon K. Evans

    It is easy for the author to make this statement. However, I have had a Post-Baccalaureate in Technical Communications for nearly 20 years. In that time, I have only had two jobs related to my field. The first lasted just short of one year. The second, I only had two assignments, then left. The majority of jobs in my field have skillset/experience requirements so steep that if I attempted to fie for the opening, rejection would be certain!

  6. Some advice from Grandpa on how to get that first job in IT.

    1) Go to a school that has a good track record for helping their students find jobs.
    2) Failing that, talk to the instructors when taking a course. See if they have any contacts.
    3) Take anything offered to you to get that first job. Don’t shun contract or part-time work.
    4) Be willing to work for crappy companies outside of your desired field to pay the bills.
    5) Don’t give-up. Be persistent. Even if it takes a couple of years.

    When I graduated from college, the economy was in the toilet. Certainly not as bad as this disaster, but disheartening for a new grad. Even IBM wasn’t hiring anybody technical.

    So, while working at a crappy job that had nothing to do with IT, I took some courses at a local junior college. A crappy operations course and a few programming classes.

    The instructor was the IT manager at a city government. He didn’t have anything available. But, a former employee of his was now a IT manager at a small company that needed an operator.

    With that guys reference I was hired on the spot. Got promoted to programmer in a few months. Stayed there a few years to learn the ropes.

    I went to a small consulting firm from there. Spent a year there to get some more skills. Then I went-out and found work as an independent consultant.

    I’ve been that for almost 40 years now. But, the initial process to get the experience that I needed took almost five years.

    One other thing young people. Enjoy yourself. You don’t need money to fall in love. Even when I was flat broke, there was always some pretty young thing to make life worth living.