Erin Ewart, career coach and recruitment consultant, from Erin Ewart Consulting shares actionable insights into how you can get your job search back on track when you're feeling stuck.

Erin Ewart on job search

Feeling Stuck in Your Search? 3 Ways to Get Going Again.

by Erin Ewart


Does it feel like your job search is stalled? Here’s how to move forward.

We’ve all been there at some point: you’ve been job searching for a while and nothing has panned out. You’ve shared your story more times than you can count, you’ve memorized every word on your resume, and you’ve networked with everyone you can think of.

Let’s face it, the job search can be hard. It’s tough on your confidence. It saps your motivation. It’s really hard to keep going in the face of rejection, and some days you just don’t want to do it. And that’s ok. Give yourself a day off to clear your mind, and then come back and get ready to jump back in. You may feel like you’ve come to the end of the road, but there is always another road.

In addition to taking a quick breather, there are 3 important things to do when you’ve come to a crossroads in your search:

1. Take an honest look at what’s been going well and what hasn’t

If it’s been about 90 days and you’re not seeing the results you want, it’s time to revisit your strategy (or create one) based on what you’ve learned so far. Some questions to reflect on:

  • What organizations and people have been most interesting and helpful so far in your search? What’s gotten you most excited? This is where you should be focusing your time and energy moving forward.  
  • Are your criteria and “must-haves” in a new role realistic based on what you’ve learned so far? If not, it’s time to rethink the types of roles you’re targeting.  
  • Are you working smart and using your time effectively? Putting yourself out there to network and taking some risks? If not, you should revisit your process and approach and make sure you have specific and attainable goals for your search.
  • Where in the process do you feel like you’re getting stuck? Is it figuring out what you want to do? Getting invited to interviews? Making it through the interview process? Identifying the specific point where you’re struggling will help you focus.

2. Find sources of feedback and accountability

Accountability is a critical factor in achieving your goals, and it’s very hard to achieve solo. And job searching can be a very lonely and isolating process if you don’t find others who are going through the same experience. Other people can also give you extremely valuable feedback and an objective perspective about your strengths and your search that you can’t see for yourself. There are a variety of ways to team up with others who will keep you accountable:  

  • Join or start an informal job search group: recruit friends who are also job searching to start a group together, or search Meetup or Facebook to find existing groups – you’ll be surprised to see how many already exist!
  • Attend job search classes or workshops: many community organizations including state and local government, public libraries, and nonprofits such as Goodwill offer free or low cost job search workshops, and you can also try your university’s career center or local alumni club. In addition to learning some new tips, you’ll meet other job searchers and expand your network.
  • Work with a coach: even one or two sessions with a coach can sometimes be enough to help you identify what’s tripping you up and how to fix it. While it is an investment to hire a coach, it will be well worth it if it helps you get a job months faster than you would on your own. Many career coaches also run group coaching programs which are more accessible to job searchers on a budget.

3. Brainstorm new pathways to the job you want

When you’re feeling stuck, it often takes just a few small wins to create the momentum you need to get going again. If you’re clear on what you want to do but it hasn’t worked out so far, it’s time to think about new ways to reach your goal. A few things to try:

  • Extend your network: even if you’ve been networking like crazy, there are always more people to talk to, and one of them will be the key to landing your next role. If you feel like you’ve run out of ideas, try a network mapping activity to brainstorm new people to talk to. Go back to your notes from old conversations and follow up with any suggested contacts you haven’t gotten in touch with yet. Search LinkedIn for people with the job titles or experience you want, and ask them to meet with you.
  • Explore projects or short-term work in your field: pitch a project idea to an organization you’re interested in, offer to volunteer on a short-term basis, or search for relevant projects through sites like LinkedIn or VolunteerMatch. Investing in some part-time work will build your skills and network and give you some great conversation topics for those interviews you’ll be landing soon. It also helps build your confidence and forces you to manage your time more effectively.

Finally, remember that job searching is hard, and give yourself credit for all the work and effort you’re putting in. Try some of the strategies above and keep at it – it will pay off!

Republished with permission:

Erin Ewart is a career coach and recruitment consultant. In over 15 years as a recruiter, she's developed an insider's perspective on what organizations are looking for in the hiring process, and she uses this knowledge to help you navigate your job search and land the job you want. Erin offers tangible, action-oriented coaching and feedback on everything from identifying your strengths and creating your elevator pitch to crafting a strong resume and preparing to interview. She has previously worked for a diverse set of organizations across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors including Google, the U.S. State Department, and KIPP, the nation's largest charter school network. Erin received her Bachelors Degree from the College of William and Mary and her MBA from Columbia Business School, and originally hails from the tiny state of Delaware.

Contact Erin

Show Notes

  • Budget time to stay energized (family, exercise, hobbies, joy)
  • Structure the day-to-day structure of your job search – use your time effectively
  • Surround yourself with others for support (family, friends, peers, professional groups)
  • Review the status of your job search every 90 days
  • Understand/take a close look at which part in the process that you're feeling stuck
  • It's okay to take a time out or a day off during your job search
  • Add networking into your search strategy including in-person, online, and requesting referrals
  • Doing mock interviews (friends, family, career coach, job search group)
  • Approach your previous experience with the STAR method
    • Situation
    • Task
    • Action
    • Results
  • Networking is a two-way street and is all about long-term relationship building
  • It's important to follow-up but don't become annoying
  • Consider requesting an informational meeting to learn more about the company
  • Take control and be proactive - let your network know that you're available
  • Learn about the gaps or challenges the company is facing and pitch how you can provide value
  • Recognize that getting into the interview is a win/positive sign
  • Interviewing is a skill...invest in the time to practice - single best thing you can do
  • Keep moving on a number of different fronts at the same time...don't get too attached to one particular opportunity
  • A career transition leap may need to be taken in smaller steps