Seeking Jobs for Too Long
With unemployment of over 10% and the decrease in new job offers, candidates are finding it harder and harder to secure new posts quickly. More often than ever, we are seeing professionals seek new work for 6, 7, 8 months and even over a year. What are the disadvantages of a long job search process and how to combat them?
Job search processes can take longer than expected for several reasons. One is when seeking senior executive positions. In a stable economy, an executive position can take from 6 months to a year to source. This means that in a difficult job market, we would have to add six months to this equation.
Often times, candidates realize much later in their job search process that they have been working with a resume which was not professionally developed, thus, does not express their uniqueness and differentiation. Sending an ineffective resume out can burn bridges and close doors much too early in a job search process. Realizing that you need to enhance your resume and taking the steps to do so will help you achieve better response when presenting yourself to hiring parties.
Other factors that contribute to a lengthy job search process are not being as proactive as needed in connecting with people and getting the word out about our status. Often times, job seekers feel they will find a position soon and resolve their unemployment status quickly. We can think that not communicating our status will save us from “loosing face” in front of colleagues. This move can have the opposite effect. Allowing all surrounding us know that we are actively seeking a job could provide an opportunity for colleagues that have admired us to consider us for available positions. It will help us connect sooner than later with decision-makers and professionals that can open doors.
Job seekers can sometimes be slow in sending resumes out. We take this new time gain as an opportunity to do things we did not have the chance of getting done before. Instead of taking our job search as a full-time job, we work on finding jobs sporadically, not devoting the time and resources really needed to succeed in the process.
A job search process for a mid-level candidate working with a professional resume that truly makes them stand out, sending out customized cover letters, and applying to 10+ daily opportunities, an average job search process can take anywhere from 1 to 3 months. In a market with high unemployment, add six months to that process. Then, add another 6 months if we are talking about a senior position within a corporation.
When the job search process has taken longer than usual, interviewers might question why the candidate has not been hired yet. They might ask: “Am I missing something that other employers noticed, as to why not to hire this candidate?” This is a disadvantage as job seekers will confront a set of questions that can be avoided if the job search process is short or conducted while still holding a position.
Another disadvantage of a long job search process is that, as time passes, we can become demoralized from negative employer responses. We can start showing a “looser” attitude, caused by the lack of positive response from recruiters. We must continue to keep our hopes up, not loose faith, and know that soon, a door will open for us.
We can become more and more anxious to continue with our careers and compromise our job interests, salary needs and work environment preference, when looking for a job for too long. When not sticking to what we considered would work for us in terms of job offer, we might end up accepting a position that we could forfeit in the short term, thus taking us back to the job market.
They have to answer to recruiters questions not posed to candidates working or very recently unemployed. These questions might be asked out loud, providing an opportunity for a candidate to answer, or not inquired at all, offering a chance for the employer to speculate. This speculation certainly puts the job seeker at a disadvantage to other candidates. Recruiters might ask a long-time job seeker what they have been doing in the past year, why they have been unsuccessful at finding a job. However, they might not ask and create suppositions on what others have seen wrong in the candidate’s profile, why others did not choose this candidate. Instead of approaching a candidate with a positive attitude regarding what they can bring to the organization, they adopt a more scrutinizing attitude to ensure that there is no reason why not to extend an offer.
Another disadvantage for people seeking jobs for more than a year is a possible hike in the level of desperation and anxiety when trying to find an open door. As time passes, the clock ticks for the job seeker. He/she becomes increasingly anxious to find an opportunity, while at the same time, his/her self-esteem decreases from the negative feedback from “dings” (rejection letters). This can prevent professionals from portraying themselves positively, as they would in a regular situation, when they have job security. Job seekers need to be aware of this and maintain their cool and high energy, demonstrating who they really in good times.
A final disadvantage is lack of practice in their field of work. Being out of your profession for an entire year can mean, for some careers more than others, loss of skill, speed, and just being out-of-the-loop in your field of work. In medicine, example, not keeping in tune with a year of advancements can seriously harm a career. Same goes for IT and systems engineers, and even writers. If you don’t use it, you can loose it! The way to counteract this deficiency is by continuing to follow the news in your field of work, contemplating internships, part-time and subcontracting opportunities. Have something to say when recruiters ask “what have you been doing to stay current in your field of work?”
Candidate desirability is negatively affected as time passes and a position is not secured. When recruiting, often times companies ask for “passive candidates” or candidates that are currently working and not seeking jobs. These are the most desirable candidates and one of the reasons why recruiting companies (headhunters) exist, to seek passive candidates. Down the line, a candidate that has been looking for a job for three months is less desirable than a passive candidate and yet more desirable than a candidate seeking a job for one year. Why? Companies can consider that as time passes, the job seeker gets more and more disconnected with his/her industry, duties, and loose valuable career growth time. Recruiters might also sense that if the seeker is ineffective in finding a job and marketing themselves, they might not be effective in other tasks. Questions arise as to why this candidate has not been recruited yet and if the company is missing out on some important data that could skew the hiring decision south. There could also be a sense of the candidate not being proactive enough in their careers, resulting in a projected image of lack of motivation and even a “loosing” attitude. Job seekers who are looking for work for more than a year will benefit from showcasing character strength and dynamism when interviewing.
However, there are also some advantages to a long job search process, believe it or not… Some of them are becoming an expert interviewee and maybe even interviewer, finally achieving an outstanding resume, learning how to write cover letters, becoming a more efficient job seeker, learning a lot about companies from researching them for the job search process. You might end up making a career change and becoming a Human Resources professional without asking for it, after gaining months of expertise in recruiting.
Here are some tips to enhance your job search process, when you have been looking for a while…
1- Do not loose faith, keep your hopes up and your chin up high. Show strength and perseverance, optimism and work ethics. A “winner” attitude will take you to high places.
2- Look for jobs more intensively through relationship-building than through any other source. Find ways to connect to professionals and develop your network.
3- Seek part-time and project-based opportunities. Keep working in your field even if it is a few hours every day and not full time. Part-time and temporary work can lead to a full-time job if you perform very well and impress decision-makers and co-workers. Sometimes, it even leads to a new career path as an entrepreneur.
4- Have your resume critiqued by a professional. If this is something you have been avoiding, or you have been 100% sure that your resume is well constructed but have not found a job for a while, you might be missing something regarding your resume. Research on the internet for Certified Professionals in the industry and find someone to talk with about your current version.
5- If you are getting interviews but then missing out on opportunities, consult with a professional career and interview coach. Understanding how to tackle hard questions to answer is an art that can be mastered.
6- Start selling and not informing, showcase your skills and how you bring added value to the company. Do your research on the employer and go the extra mile to prove to them with facts how you can be an asset to their team.
By Claudine Vainrub, Principal of EduPlan