Getting Un-Stuck from your Rut!
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” This is one of my all-time favorite quotes. OK, trivia experts: can anyone identify the actual author of this quote? (Hint: contrary to popular myth, it was not Albert Einstein or Benjamin Franklin!)¹
Did you ever feel like your job-search is stuck in a rut? Are you doing the same things over and over, and expecting different results? Do you feel as though you are doing all the “right things” but still getting nowhere? Are you wondering why your carefully planned, well-thought-out plan is not producing results (i.e. a job!?) Sometimes you need to step back, re-assess what you are doing and consider alternative strategies. Sometimes you need to get out of your “comfort zone” and try new things that may seem scary at first, but ultimately may move you forward.
Job-seekers often get stuck in a rut, and don’t know how to get out of it. Let’s face it – the job-seeking road is often a very long one, and is full of repeated instances of rejection. It’s the nature of the beast. Sales people may be used to facing rejection on a daily basis … but most others are not. Emotionally, that can take a huge toll on a person’s attitude … which is a big problem when maintaining a positive attitude is so critical to a job-seeker’s chances of success. [Read “The Power of a Positive Attitude.”]
Here are a few suggestions for things to do to get unstuck from a job-seeking rut. These are ideas that may just shake up your routine a little, get you moving in a different direction, get you talking to new people with new ideas, or simply re-energize you.
Re-Visit and Expand Your Target Company List
You already have a target list of companies that is your road-map for networking your way to a job, right? NO??? If not, Do Not Pass GO, and proceed directly to “How to Network: A Step-By-Step Guide for Job Searching” for instructions on how to create a target list and use it to conduct an effective networking campaign. Assuming you do already have such a list, and you’ve been working off of it for a while, this may be a good time to re-evaluate that list and consider expanding it to include new companies that you didn’t consider before. Go back to square one and re-create your list with wider parameters so that you have fresh new places to target. Having new targets can re-energize a stale search plan.
Set Measurable Daily Goals For Yourself
Time management can be a real challenge for someone with nothing but time on their hands! You’ve heard it before – looking for a job is a full-time job in and of itself. It would be easy to say that you should put in a full 8 hours a day, 5 days a week doing it … but that’s a bit much for most people. I would suggest that a minimum goal should be 4-5 hours a day. That’s time spent online, on the phone, traveling to and from meetings, and (most valuable of all) actual face time with people who are part of your targeted search plan. Failure to plan out your days or prioritize your time are common pitfalls that can easily lead to getting stuck in a rut. One way to avoid that is to set measurable goals for yourself that you can realistically achieve. For example, here are two suggested goals you can try: 1) Research and contact two new companies each day; 2) Talk with three job-search related people each day (actual conversations … leaving messages or sending emails don’t count.) I’m sure you can think of other similar goals that make sense for yourself. Whatever goals you set, make sure they are both measurable and easily achievable, and keep track of each day’s progress for yourself. This will help you stay on task and not waste too much time with useless distractions. [Read “Time Management: Recipe for a Well-Balanced Job Search” for more details on how to prioritize your time.]
Spend Less Time Online, and More Time Actually Talking with People
The internet is a wonderful tool for job-seekers. It can also be a huge distraction and waster of time. Make sure you are not spending your days in front of a screen without having actual meaningful conversations with people that are part of your job-search plan. Answering online job postings is one of the least effective ways to find a job. Limit the amount of time you spend doing that to around 10%. Sending emails to targeted people is often a good first step in the right direction … but in the end, direct live communication with actual people is the ONLY way business gets done, decisions get made, and people get hired. Overcome your fear, stop worrying about rejection, step outside of your comfort zone and PICK UP THE PHONE! Better yet, set up appointments with people connected to your target list, get out of the house and MEET WITH PEOPLE!
Re-Connect With Contacts You May Have Forgotten About
Make yourself a list of each and every significant person you’ve contacted about your search since you began the process. If you’ve been searching for a while now, there are probably people on that list that you’ve let slide and not talked with in a long time. Go back and re-visit with those people now. Let them know what you’ve been doing since you last spoke with them – who you’ve met with, what companies you’ve applied to or interviewed with, what decision-makers you’ve made contact with, and who you are still hoping to connect with. If you haven’t already done so, send or show those people your target list and ask if they know anyone in your niche at those companies. Then, keep those re-visited contacts on an organized list of people to stay in regular touch with. Create follow-up reminders for yourself, using a calendar. Don’t let your contacts go stale.
Find New Networking Groups to Join
There are some really great local Networking Groups (sometimes called “Job Clubs”) in almost every community. They’re easy to find with a simple Google search. Many job-seekers attend regular meetings of those groups, and derive a lot of help, guidance, and advice … and also meet many other job-seekers who can often be very helpful and supportive. After a while, though, attending those same meetings month after month can get repetitive – and you keep seeing the same people over and over. Try seeking out a new local group or two and drop in on their meetings. You just may find a fresh perspective, hear a new idea, or meet new people that you can add to your network. [As a starting point, check out his state-by-state list of job-seeker support groups: "Directory of Networking and Job Search Support Groups by State."]
It’s worth noting here that, despite the “Definition of Insanity” quote, certain job-seeking activities actually do have to be done over and over again to yield positive results. Networking is the prime example of that. Done properly, networking is a complicated process which must be viewed as a long-term strategy – and as such, it can also be both repetitive and very time consuming. Patience and consistency are the keys. While it may not produce quick results, it will position you well for long-term success.
So don’t let the job-searching saga get you down. Don’t give in to negativity. If you find yourself feeling stuck … shake things up by trying some of these new ideas. Break out of your rut and dig yourself out of the hole you’ve fallen in. You never know – that illusive treasure you are seeking might just be closer than you think!
Even though this is probably totally useless trivia information, if you just can’t stand not knowing … the answer to who actually authored “The Definition of Insanity” quoted at the top of this article is here: THE ANSWER.