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Posted: August 27, 2012

The job search to nowhere

Questions to get yourself unstuck

John Heckers

So, you've been looking for a job for a while and nothing much is happening, hmmm? Many people who face this reality feel that they are just "stuck," and that their job search is going nowhere. It is important to first diagnose why you're stuck and then to do something about it. Here are some questions to ask yourself.

1). Have I really begun to look for a job. We see folks come in to see us who have been unemployed for months, yet haven't really started to look for a job. When they get laid off or terminated they take some time off, play with the kiddos, swim with the Great Whites, go fishing for a couple months or do other things that hold back their job search. If you haven't started to look yet, you're stuck at the starting line.

2). Am I networking enough? In today's economy, you need to be doing ten to twelve "networking units" a week. A "networking unit" can include a coffee with a networking partner or a networking event. LinkedIn, email, phone calls, interviews, etc. do not count. If you aren't doing 10 - 12 networking events per week, you're not networking enough. Time to ramp up.

3). Am I networking effectively? Just putting in the time networking isn't going to help. You need to go for the jugular (gently) and get something out of each networking meeting. Get a name, a lead, or something else. If you meet with the same person twice and that person has not helped you in any way...time to write them off. Don't waste your time networking with people who cannot or will not help you.

4). Am I relying on LinkedIn and/or other social media? Don't. LinkedIn is a great tool. But it isn't enough to network through LinkedIn. And forget Twitter and Facebook. They won't help you get a job, especially at the executive level. (Twitter does "Tweet" job openings to you if you sign up for such.)

5). When I get an interview, am I blowing it? An unprepared interviewee is an unsuccessful interviewee. Get professional help, practice with skilled friends, read books (hey, read mine!), or all of the above. You cannot be too prepared for the interview. If someone who is prepared goes up against you, all other things being approximately equal, they'll get the job and you won't. And don't harbor the illusion that you're a good interviewer. Trust me. You're not. And, no, you didn't "come in second."

6). Am I waiting on "irons in the fire?" If you are, you're in trouble. Few "irons in the fire" ever come through. I've seen hundreds of "irons in the fire" fall through the years. Don't count on them.

7). Am I turning interviews into offers? If you have not gotten at least one offer for every four companies with which you interview, you are doing something wrong in the interview, period. Find out what before you burn more bridges. You may have to spend money to do this, but interviews don't grow on trees, these days. And remember that employers talk with one another. If you really mess up one interview, it might keep you from other opportunities.

8). Are there psychological or spiritual issues that I am facing? Depression is almost epidemic among those who have been laid off or terminated. A visit to your doctor and doing a simple written evaluation can help determine if you are depressed. If so, there are dozens of effective and affordable medications that can help. Ask your doctor if this is an issue.

9). Am I angry or desperate? These things come across in an interview and will almost certainly derail you.

10). Are there family issues? Are you now child-care for the kids? Is your spouse not supportive? Are you going through a divorce? Is you family piling new family responsibilities on you at the very time you need to be looking for a job full time?

11). Am I just stalled? If so, it is time to get out and ask for some support from fellow (but positive) job seekers or a professional. They may be able to pinpoint where you're stalled.

12). Am I really stuck at all? Maybe you're not really stuck. Maybe you're just building the "pipeline" to your networking. If so, within three weeks or so things will start to happen.

Getting stuck can be very frustrating. Do everything possible to diagnose your source of "stuckness" and get unstuck as quickly as possible...preferably before the upcoming "summer doldrums" of hiring.

Get your networking unstuck now! Join up to 40 of your executive colleagues at our exclusive Executive Structured Networking Event on Monday, April 11th . No vendors! Nothing sold or promoted! More info and required registration here.

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John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC was an Executive, Relationships, Life and Spiritual Coach in Denver with 30 years of experience  helping people with their lives, relationships and careers.

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Readers Respond

Hello John, Worthwhile article to have written. I appreciated the points to review as I continue through my own search for new work; with peaks, valleys, and everything in-between. One of the things I do, alluded to in 11/12, is to step back periodically to reassess what I'm doing. The market continues to evolve and one's own efforts need to adjust as well. Cheers By JT Pedersen on 2011 03 29
John...good article. I think that your second and third point is particularly relevant though I think that sometimes less is more and if you are targeting good networking contacts and effectively able to get something from them it can be very effective. The key as you saidis going in with a plan and gently going for the ask. By Rich on 2011 03 26
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