Finding a new job isn’t always as quick or easy as you think it’s going to be. Despite strong demand for tech professionals in most specialties and regions, sometimes a job search stalls out.
If you’re feeling like your quest to land your dream position has plateaued, here’s a look at the culprits that may be causing you to lose momentum—and some ways to get the proverbial ball rolling again.
You’re Stretched Too Thin
When a job search isn’t working, it is usually because the candidate is trying to do too many things at once, and ends up accomplishing little and feeling overwhelmed, said Jim Peacock, principal of Peak Careers Consulting. It’s no wonder that overextended job hunters hit a wall; studies show that multitasking can actually decrease focus and productivity by as much as 40 percent.
You’ll get more done by tackling one small task or job at a time and proceeding sequentially. For example, keep your efforts simple and focused by creating a target list of companies to potentially work for, then researching and ranking them in order of preference. Tackling that activity first will help you identify the best skills and keywords for your résumé, as well.
“Getting your résumé ready before you contact any potential referrals is key,” noted Linda Tuerk, a Silicon Valley recruiter and job search coach who works with engineers and tech pros.
“I recommend assigning different days to different functions,” she advised. For instance, devote two or three days to finding job openings that look like a fit, as well as researching potential referrals, then spend two to three days on résumé customization. Use a spreadsheet or app to keep track of activities and dates.
Need help getting organized? Check out our job search checklist.
Your Value Proposition is Weak
If your track record is solid but unremarkable, and your strategy to deliver value is focused on executing duties and responsibilities, not solving problems, you probably look like everyone else who’s applying for the position. What you need is a marketing makeover.
Rework your value proposition by taking a step back and thinking about what you do better than the next candidate. “Getting an outside perspective from colleagues and recruiters gives you much-needed objectivity,” Peacock said.
Brainstorm your strengths to come up with a story and tagline that encapsulates the impact of your work. Create résumé bullet points in a results-driven format and become a more interesting candidate by listing in-demand skills, side projects and recent education near the top of the document.
You’re Following the Herd
If you spend most of your time surfing job boards and completing random job applications, don’t be surprised when your search peters out. On average, companies in the IT industry receive 40 applications per job.
Research shows that job boards and career sites generate the highest number of applicants, but their conversion-to-hire ratios fall far behind that of referrals. Referrals, on the other hand, account for only 7 percent of applicants but 40 percent of hires.
Stack the odds in your favor by allocating 80 percent of your time toward high-impact activities such as networking, attending meet-ups and informational interviews, and requesting referrals.
You Lack a Strong Online Presence
Make it easy for recruiters and hiring managers to target you. How? By optimizing your social profiles, submitting a guest post to a popular tech blog or creating a personal website. Frankly, investing time in these activities will not only yield better ROI, but you’ll be learning something new and edging out the competition by positioning yourself as an expert in your field.
You’re Taking Your Job Search Personally
You could be undermining your efforts to land a new job if you come across as lacking confidence, lethargic or desperate.
Don’t regard job rejection as personal or a reflection of your abilities, especially when candidates are screened and selected by applicant tracking systems and A.I.-powered software. Employers put searches on hold and change their minds all the time, so it isn’t you. It is critically important to be resilient and keep plugging along.
“Keep in mind that looking for a new job is a marathon, not a sprint,” Turek said. So take a deep breath, relax, and recommit to your search.