The Job Search Sucks When You Feel Trapped: 7 Ideas

If  you’ve been following me for a few months you know I was a bad job seeker. If you want to feel like the job search sucks, do all the wrong things.  I did all the wrong things in my job search.  One of my favorite posts, because I like the advice, is my What I should have done in the first 30 days post ( I share with you what my strategy/tactics were, and what they should have been).

Today I’ll go down another path – if your job search sucks, here are some things to consider:

  • Step away and regroup. Seriously – go away.  Or stay away (do a “staycation,” which is a vacation where you don’t go anywhere).  I had serious issues with what I was doing, and got into a bad rut.  The best thing I could have done was to walk away. Perhaps a camping trip (away from technology), or time with a friend, or something like that.  If you are in the job search rut I recommend you get out.  Remember one of the definitions of insanity?  Doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results…
  • Focus on relationships. As job seekers we like to think we focus on relationships, but I think too often we focus on relationships that can help us get to Point B.  How about you lose yourself in service… just call up your contacts and ask them if there is anything you can do for them, or somehow reach out to them and find ways to serve them.  Here’s an idea … if you have time (you should, if you are in a job search), spend an hour a day serving people in your neighborhood.   Mow someone’s lawn.  Weed a garden.  Buy a tree for $30 and plant it in a neighbor’s yard (get permission first :)).  Pick up trash by your house.  Kill some weeds …
  • Fix something at your house. I let my house go to pot during my job search… and that wasn’t good for anyone.  There are plenty of things you can do around your house – it might be fixing a drawer or painting a room, cleaning the carpet or repairing a fence.  You know what’s broken… try and get it resolved.  My job search was so fruitless, void of “wins,” that getting something fixed (and done) would have been a nice win I needed for my morale.
  • Plant some flowers in your yard (or in an indoor planter). You can spend less than $10 on this one, and it should provide beauty for you for weeks, months or years to come.  A little color in our environment never hurt anyone, right?  I planted some flowers around Mother’s Day and they didn’t seem to do well, but now I see them flowering daily and it is really cool 🙂  Think this is too simple?  If it has an impact on your attitude perhaps your networking and efforts will be more fruitful.
  • Go back to school. Seriously – maybe it’s time to consider a change, or an enhancement of your skill set… and sometimes a degree (or an advanced degree, or a technical certificate) is what you really need.  The widget on the right of this blog post can show you some schools you might consider.
  • Change industries. Maybe you are bored, or burned-out, from your current industry.  If so, stop looking for jobs in that industry – I bet you have transferable skills… right?  Put them to work and think about other industries (or professions) you might be happier in.
  • Quit the job search. I did.  I had to.  I was going nowhere looking for new employer, while I had the answer under my nose keyboard the whole time.  Maybe you aren’t supposed to have a j.o.b. anymore… maybe you are supposed to own your own gig, or be a consultant, or a speaker, or a writer, or something else.  Note: Quit the job search doesn’t mean you quit life, but there are other ways to make money than from an employer.  Ever hear of the phrase “income security?”

I agree the economy sucks for job seekers (duh), but maybe the problem is less the economy and more your strategies and tactics… so rethinking what you are doing might be just what you need to do.

the job search sucks so rethink your strategy

The Job Search Sucks!

Here’s another suggestion so the job search sucks less: use job boards to get inspiration and ideas.  For example, you could search for admin jobs to see the latest job openings, and read through them to get language to use on your resume, in interviews, and to find out about titles you might not have thought about before.

Have any other suggestions for when the job search sucks? Of course, you should be using JibberJobber by now, to manage the admin and organizational aspect of the job search… what else do you suggest?

15 thoughts on “The Job Search Sucks When You Feel Trapped: 7 Ideas”

  1. Great idea and excellent advice!


    * Volunteer for a charity/cause important to you: your kid’s school or the local food bank, meals-on-wheels, Red Cross, etc. Good for refreshing your perspective AND your network.

    * Find, or start, a local job search support group. Check with local churches, snyagogs, temples, community centers, libraries, etc. to find others in the same boat. You can help – and learn from – each other as well as refreshing your perspective and your network.

  2. So glad you mentioned physical work – around the house, yard. The physical work helps clear the head and provides a much needed accomplishment to herald, “Look! I planted flowers today. Aren’t they the best flowers you’ve ever seen?”
    The regroup, go back to school and change industries point to the same thing – keep examining what you want in a job and why. Your initial assumptions may be wrong.
    Love this Jason!

  3. I’d also add, as per my bias, get involved in your hobbies more. Like Science-Fiction? Take those managerial skills to run your local science fiction convention. Work with little league? Use those graphic arts skills to make flyers. Like to knit? Use your web skills to help out with your knit shop’s web page.

    These things connect you with people, hone your skills, and can even flesh out a resume. Plus you stay active while enjoying yourself.

  4. “Remember one of the definitions of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results…”

    This is not a definition of insanity. This is an often repeated cliche that is untrue and frankly does not make sense.

    Just thought you should know.

  5. A different take on #1 and echoing Steven…Take up a new hobby, it stimulates the brain and increases creativity, which in turn leads to opening new possibilities.

  6. Hi, Jason,

    Great article. A job search is such an emotionally and physically draining experience, and requires all the resources you can muster to keep you going. Two more ideas to consider:

    * Make friends with the local Library, where you can feed your mind — for free — with an array of stimulating books, magazines, professional publications, videos, CDs, DVDs, and more–in your many areas of interest. These may be hobbies, intellectual interests, spiritual interests, and even your career field. You can “go back to school” at your library using their free resources for self-study.

    * Listen to music. Choose music that truly feeds your weary soul and lifts your spirits, that has a calming effect on your anxiety. Music is used in professional therapy to heal, and can be therapeutic for you, too.

    Finding some useful free resources may help get your mind off the lack of income, and provide healthy ways to move through the journey called job search.



  7. One more thought on #2, and along the same lines as Susan’s suggestion to volunteer- offer to do pro bono work in your field of expertise. I wrote a couple of press releases for a local networking organization, was invited to volunteer at their annual golf tournament and have two job interviews as a result.

  8. No offense, but wow…change careers…go back to school…if only the other 99% of us actually looking for jobs had such options.

  9. @Ryan – I said “if your job search sucks…”

    perhaps some people are in the wrong industry (not necessarily careers). This was a “my profession applies in various industries… “… think sales, IT, accounting, marketing, finance, etc. Many people can do the same thing in different industries. Some people’s industry is going down the tubes and they are seriously looking, not because they want to but because they have to.

    With regard to going back to school, some people need to retool here, also… perhaps they are looking at a 2 year votech program, or something that will make them more marketable. I’d guess it’s more than just 1% of serious job seekers who will give this option a thorough look, even if it’s not an option for you.

  10. Jason,

    Great Article! Finding a job in todays market is difficult even for the “highly qualified”. It has become more and more difficult to navigate the job market landscape and often times it requires those that are searching to take a “step back” and evaluate or just take their mind of of the job search itself.

    Sean Rego

  11. Find a fellow job seeker that you can develop weekly accountability with each other. This will help uncover blind spots, address these issues and move forward in structuring your job search.
    Mark Sutton

  12. Sure. I feel like I want to give up anddothe things you suggest. Listen to music, take up a hobby. Meanwhile someone else takes the opportunity I missed and eventually I’ll work for someone at a place I don’t like for someone who is not born yet.

    The problem is for those of us shifting careers, we are expected to start at square zero. Not square one. We have responsibilities to families for income and health insurance coverage. Paying the rent, etc. I really can’t afford to bring you your non fat latte “pro Bono,” thanks. Lets get some TRUE entry level opportunities out there that REAL people can apply for REASONABLY.

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