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What is wrong with my job search?

Feeling frustrated and disappointed with the lack of responses from your job search? Have no answers as to what is wrong with your job search? Read on to find out more about troubleshooting your job search progress.

The pain of job search

After searching through pages of job listings, you thought you found THE job for you. You put in effort to draft your resume, fill out the application steps and put in your application with a sense of hope. After a few days, you try to source for the recruiter of the role, hoping to make a connection and find out whether your application has been reviewed. The wait is agonising as the lack of responses continue. After what seems like an eternity, you finally see the "unsuccessful" status of your application on the job portal.

Restart the job search cycle, multiply it by many more unsuccessful attempts and you start to experience the effects of job search pain - increased worry, anxiety about the future and diminished hope, confidence and esteem in yourself.

Review your job search approach

Knowing what's right and wrong about your job search approach can help to restart each job search cycle with a renewed sense of hope. Here are some questions to help you reflect and review your job search approach and identify possible areas for fine-tuning.

1. How are you applying for jobs?

A "focused" approach where you identify what types of job roles would fit your past work experience or align with your future career hopes works better than a "scattered" approach where you apply for any job that you think you can do.

The "scattered" approach is only attractive because it is premised on "more job applications = more chances for opportunities". This actually creates a false sense of comfort, knowing that you have done something for your job search. It also dampens your self confidence when you attribute the lack of responses from the numerous job applications to your inability or irrelevance instead of non suitability of the job role.

Try the "focused" approach where you prioritise 5 - 7 job roles that has high alignment with your past work experience. If you are switching industries or job roles, prioritise job roles based on the transferability of your skills and experiences. You could also have some job roles of a lower priority but place more effort and hopes on the higher priority job roles.

Do you also tend to forget about the jobs you applied for? Imagine hearing from a recruiter but you forgot what job it is for! Organise your job search efforts by creating a tracking sheet to record information such as job title, URL, date of application, platform of application, contact person details and application progress so that you know and track the status of your job applications. Besides being organised, it also helps you stay objective about your efforts to review how focused you have been in your job applications.

2. How far have you progressed in your job search?

The job search process involves several stages including applying for jobs, being screened, being shortlisted, being invited for the first interview, attending subsequent interviews, entering terms of employment, salary negotiation. Where is the furthest you have gone in the job search process?

Knowing how far you have gone in the job search process could give you some clues to possible gap areas to address. For example, if you have not received any call backs from your job applications, there may be an issue with your job application approach or the contents of your resume. If you have been attending interviews but never gone past the first round of interviews, it could signal help needed for job interviewing.

Reflecting on your past job search process is also useful. As you recall your job search progress, recall the instances where you had some success or progress in your job search. Reflect on what you did differently in those instances and replicate them again.

3. How are you customising your job search?

Every job role is different. Every person's career experience is different. That is why a customised job search approach is needed. Are you treating your job applications like they are all the same?

Job search is essentially a competition. The most person with the most visible value-add will stand out from the crowd of applicants. Presenting your value-add is possible when you know how to customise your job search. Here are some areas of customisation that you can adopt in your job search:

Customising your content

Review the contents on your job search artifacts such as your resume, social media, portfolios to see if you can clearly identify a clear value proposition. You should assess your contents on two levels - a brief, cursory view and an in-depth view because the readers of your job search artifacts may spend different amounts of time reviewing them. Compare your value-add against your targeted jobs. Fine tune the contents on your job search artifacts or review the suitability of your targeted jobs. You can ask someone neutral to take a look at your contents and have them reflect on what they see as your value-add. Remember to also review your social media contents and scrub out unfavourable content which may cast doubt on you.

Customising your reach

Review the seniority level of your targeted jobs and identify the best channels to access them. For senior roles, recruitment firms, headhunters would be good channels while online job portals work well for entry - mid level roles. Aim to make professional connections around your targeted job role by using LinkedIn. Look for people inside and outside of the targeted organisation who could help you learn more about the job role, business or bring you one step closer to the interview table.

Remember, each targeted job role should have its own set of customisations!

4. How much support do you have?

Job search is a marathon, not a sprint. On average, the median length of unemployment in Singapore is about 8 weeks (as at Jan 2023) and can stretch to beyond 6 months for some people. To last the job search marathon, support in two areas is needed.

Job Search support

Job search success is often the result of people connecting people, people helping people. Do involve people in your job search process.

Make effort to connect with ex colleagues, ex work partners, acquaintances and seek out their help for connections or opportunities from their own networks. Check out public or private services or programmes that allow you to learn and be supported through your job search process eg. free career services from the Career Coaches at e2i and Workforce Singapore or private personalised career support from AVODAH People Solutions.

Social Emotional support

Do you have an active and healthy life routine each day? Can you count on people around you to lend encouragement, support and resources with you?

A good way to handle the discouragement that comes from job search rejections is to remember that you are more than your job. Put in place a regular life routine that includes a mix of socialising, learning, exercising on top of your job search efforts. In the absence of a job that pays, your time becomes your money. Use it wisely to invest in yourself. Update your friends, loved ones regularly about your progress and be open about the type of help you would need from them. Creating a large social support can sustain you for the job search long haul.

Unsuccessful job searches can be demoralizing, but understanding the common reasons behind them can hopefully help you overcome the job search obstacles in your path. By taking a proactive and strategic approach to your job search, continuously improving your skills, and maintaining a positive attitude, you can increase your chances of finding the right job opportunity. Remember that job searching is a journey, and with the right mindset and effort, success is within reach.

Night is always darker before the dawn and life is the same, the hard times will pass, everything will get better and the sun will shine brighter than ever ~ Ernest Hemingway

At AVODAH People Solutions, we provide career guidance services to people who are considering career changes, making a job change or currently in a transition to find a job and also career enrichment services to people who want to be more effective at work. Share your career situation with us so that we can support you. You can also use our curated listing of free career resources.


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