Your own experience with job searching could be that it doesn’t take you long to find the right kind of employment. I can recall times in my life when applying for work was rather easy and it seemed like every job I applied to I was granted an interview; but that was back in the 80’s.
These days, looking for work has changed dramatically. With more people unemployed, the emergence of technology (especially with the rise of online applications and applicant tracking software) and many more jobs with unique titles than at any time in history, I’d be greatly surprised if you didn’t find it increasingly frustrating.
No matter what job or career you are after, it’s understandable at some point that you start to wonder if the position you are chasing is the problem. The thoughts that nag at your consciousness are, “I just need a job; any job!”, “What other jobs can I do?” “Will I ever work again?” Pretty soon you find yourself questioning your qualifications, skills and experience as with the passing of time these are getting further and further outdated.
It’s around this time that some people make what is in my opinion – a poor decision. This decision is made at a time when they are vulnerable, not thinking clearly and their self-confidence is battered and bruised. The decision I’m talking about is going from a very streamlined and focused job search to a completely wide open buck shot job search.
Rather than gradually expanding on the jobs or career originally set out to obtain, the person widens their job search to include all manner of jobs. This dramatic change in approach is extremely dangerous even if in the immediate short-term it seems like a good move.
First of all you’ve probably got other people alerted to your job search and keeping their ears and eyes open. You don’t want to confuse those people and have them stop looking to help you by telling them you are now just looking for anything. They may be making inquiries on your behalf wit their own contacts and the companies they work for and feel less inclined to vouch for your abilities and interest if they find out you’re no longer committed to a specific career or field.
Next consider the possibility of landing some job you applied to out of sheer desperation. So now you’re working as a Barista for a large coffee company chain making minimum wage instead of being a Production Manager in the Food Service Industry. While it felt great to find jobs you could apply to and to have received a positive call offering you an interview, you wonder why it didn’t feel as wonderful when they actually offered you the job itself. And here, on your third day, you’re already starting to wonder, “Is this it? Is this my life now? What have I done?”
Of course there’s nothing wrong with a job as a Barista for those who seek it out as a desirable position. There’s nothing wrong too with expanding your job search when you either can’t find jobs to apply to that are an exact match for your qualifications and interests or you are having zero success in getting interviewed for. The real art of the thing is to expand the job search to include jobs which are similar or close to the job you ideally want, but not so much that you lose your focus.
Now you’ll get varying opinions on exactly how much time and effort you should put into looking for that ideal job. Some advice you hear may be to keep your focus 100% on your dream job and make no compromises. Others might suggest you set some arbitrary deadline such as three or six months; and if you’re unsuccessful, only then widen your job search.
For me personally, I would have to know you, the job you’re after, the market for that job in the community you live in, whether it’s entry, mid or a senior level job you’re after. I’d have to know you too and your attitude, financial health, stamina for a long job search, emotional and mental health needs in order to advise you personally on how long to commit to the job you’re ideally after.
Consider that when you are so ticked off you’re expanding on what you’ll look for, you may need to do so in order to pay your rent or mortgage, car insurance payments, gas or public transit money and of course eating well and staying healthy. Others out of work have significant savings set aside that they can utilize to offset the impact of a lengthy job search.
My general advice however is that before you go from a structured and focused job search to, “I’ll take anything”, just broaden your narrow job search goal a little. Can you for example consider taking a job in the same field, even if it’s not your dream job? If you did, you’d be getting somewhat relevant experience and would be able to apply for internal jobs.
If you can identify the company you want to work for long-term, can you apply for and accept an entry-level position (even part-time) doing something completely different but at least for the same employer? This could also give you the chance to become known, network and see internal jobs.
Written By Kelly Mitchell
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