This small detail can make the biggest difference in your job search

What it’s really like to find a job in 2019, Part 3 (of a 5-part series)

My recent, months-long job hunt was for a mid-to-senior level digital marketing job in New York City. I was let go unexpectedly and it was the first time in my career I was confronted with a full-time job search and no paycheck to fall back on.

As quickly as I began my job search, I used filters — around job title, compensation, brand, company size, industry, location, and more. Yet, it was the filters that were the first thing to go. What I learned is an important lesson: You’re not going to find exactly what you want by searching for exactly what you want. It’s an oxymoron, but that’s how I see it.

Now I wasn’t just looking for any job. I was targeting $100K+ mid-to-senior level B2C marketing positions in New York City. I’m passionate about what I do and mindful about my personal and professional growth, so I was looking for the right job—whatever that turned out to be. While my advice comes from a very specific place, I learned that above all else in my search, going wide helped me succeed.

The struggle is real when it comes to finding the right job and going wide can make all the difference.

Going wide

When I was on the hunt, I learned to keep an open mind about the titles and companies I was targeting. This allowed me to fill my funnel with leads, as I detailed in Part 2 of this series. By casting a wide net, I was able to increase my chances of landing the best opportunity in the time I had (3–6 months).

My search orbited around the keywords in eight different job titles:

  • Director of content
  • Head of content
  • Content marketing
  • Social content
  • Head of marketing
  • Growth marketing
  • E-commerce marketing
  • Audience development

Early on, I was picky and overconfident, searching for only one or two job titles at larger companies. Over time, as my morale shifted and I realized finding the right job was going to be harder than I initially thought, I started removing filters, adding more job titles, and applying to positions I wasn’t immediately drawn to.

I learned not to discriminate based on job descriptions; not to judge a book by its cover. I applied to startups, enterprises, B2B and B2C, SaaS, and e-commerce. I applied to jobs I didn’t really want. I applied to jobs I was too senior for. I applied to jobs I was too junior for.

Pushing past the struggle

Widening my search helped me push past a period of struggle in the middle of my job search. I didn’t fully realize this at the time, but I came to recognize a pattern when I looked back on the four-month journey. The pattern looked something like this:

A chart of morale over time for a job search. Watch out for the Valley of Despair.

After recovering from an initial period of shock, I did some mental Jiu-jitsu and told myself that I would choose my own fate and not let this unfortunate set of circumstances drag me down. That led to some early enthusiasm and motivation, where I would crack my knuckles and start applying to jobs and messaging old friends and colleagues (after walking my dog and getting my morning coffee of course). It didn’t take long to see diminishing returns on my investment and I gradually began to lose faith. Weeks, then months went by, and the job search dragged on.

The Valley of Despair

Enter The Valley of Despair: a period of struggle that often comes up during transitions. It falls somewhere between the honeymoon phase and the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s when things get hard. The search starts to take over your life in a more significant way and you start re-evaluating a lot of aspects of your life that you weren’t previously questioning. Is the market too competitive? Should I look in other cities? Would I be being willing to relocate?

Since I was unemployed, the stakes — and emotions — were higher. The commitment was greater than any previous job search in my career (life). Some people might not struggle, or struggle as much, or feel comfortable sharing that they struggled at all. But the struggle is real, and going wide can make all the difference.

Part 1: The Black Hole of Job Hunting in the 21st Century

Part 2: How I Scienced the Crap Out of My Job Search: A Data-Driven Analysis

Thanks for reading! Slide into my DMs on Twitter or LinkedIn. I’d love to hear about your experience.

Dan Ucko is a marketer and writer living in New York City with his wife and adorable French bulldog Murphy. He turned his journalism degree into a marketing career, working at startups and in the media industry. He now focuses on e-commerce marketing at PepsiCo. His views are do not reflect those of his current or former employers.

This article first appeared on LinkedIn.