5 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Job Search

If you’re not getting results, reevaluate your job-search strategy and make changes. 

Every February 2nd, the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania celebrates the holiday with early-morning festivities to watch their beloved groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, emerge from his burrow. Legend has it that if Phil sees his shadow, he has predicted six more weeks of winter. However, the phrase “Groundhog Day” has come to mean much more. For many, it’s a time of self-reflection.

For instance, take the movie Groundhog Day. Bill Murray plays an arrogant TV reporter who is forced to cover the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawny, only to find himself trapped in a time loop, repeating the same day over and over again. It’s not until Murray’s character starts evaluating his life and reexamining his priorities that he can finally move forward to a new day.

How many of you have felt like Bill Murray’s character? You wake up, search for jobs and apply, reach out to recruiters and hear nothing. Then you wake up and do the same thing all over again with the same results. I hear this from job seekers all the time. “I’m doing everything I’m supposed to and getting nowhere – what should I do?”

Below are five questions to ask yourself the next time your job search stalls.

Are your goals clear and realistic?

As my friend Dr. Woody says, you can’t simply say “I want a new job” and consider that to be your plan. An effective search begins with a clear set of realistic job goals that align your key skills and experience with your passions and long-term career objectives. Click on the following link for some exercises to help you clarify your job goals. Remember, if you want to relocate or change careers, this will affect your job-search strategy and how long it will take you to find that next job.

Is your resume ready for the digital world?

A research study conducted by Ladders found that you have 6 seconds to make the right impression. But before your resume reaches someone who understands your experience, it must first get past an electronic gatekeeper and a junior-level HR rep who conducts the initial screenings. Make sure your resume incorporates the key terms and requirements found in your targeted jobs, that it is tailored to play up your relevant skills and experience. Limit your resume to the last 10-15 years of experience to avoid age discrimination. Not sure if your resume is up to snuff? Ask a professional.

Have you Googled yourself lately?

In today’s mobile society, your personal brand must go beyond the physical resume and into the online world. Google your name (as it appears on your resume) and see what comes up. Make a list of every website where you have an account set up – including job boards – and decide if it should be used for professional or personal use. Update your professional accounts to align with your resume and job goals by highlighting your relevant skill sets, experience and affiliations. Edit your personal accounts by changing the name and increasing the security settings so they won’t be found.

Are you applying to the right jobs?

Job descriptions are often a hiring manager’s wish list for the dream candidate. While the employer probably doesn’t expect you to have every single qualification, they do expect you to meet all the core “must-have” requirements. Only apply to jobs where you possess these must-haves. Also, make sure you choose jobs that align with your goals – applying to jobs outside of your goals will dilute your personal brand and confuse employers. Clearly spell out your qualifications in your application so that someone outside your industry could quickly glance at it and understand why you’d be a good fit.

How often do you network?

Whether you love it or loathe it, networking is an important part of the job-search process. Not only is it a great source of the jobs you won’t find published online, networking also helps you identify connections in your target companies and gets your application past the gatekeepers. Dedicate a portion of each week to networking, such as joining new associations, conducting informational interviews, attending industry-specific events, or catching up with valuable contacts. Remember, the goal is to increase the size of your network and identify new people that can help move your search forward. Not making progress? Try something new, such as embracing a different social media channel.

If you’re having trouble answering these questions, chances are you’re not documenting enough of your job-search activities. By taking time to track and evaluate your job-search efforts, you’ll be in better shape to pinpoint when your routine changes for the better or worse, and what you can do to take it to the next level. Remember, if your current strategy isn’t working, it’s time to change things up.