Your job search has hit a wall. Every job you’ve applied to hasn’t panned out or they flat-out ghosted you and every time you go looking for new opportunities it seems to happen again and again.
It’s easy to lose hope and motivation in moments like this. I wouldn’t fault you if you just wanted to check out for a bit. However, if you’re still up for it, there are plenty of things you can do during this slow period to stay in the game, find under-the-radar roles you might be perfect for, take a contract job or volunteer for a cause you’re passionate about, and set yourself up for success when the market picks up again.
Is it you or the job market?
Job search slumps can be caused by two factors: the job market and the job seeker.
While it’s hard to predict exactly when companies hire heavily and when they hold off on expanding their teams, with 20 years of experience working as an Executive Recruiter my experience has been that the latter half of the year tends to be a slower period for growth. Companies have financial goals they’re looking to reach by year end, and sometimes in order to hit those goals, they’ve got to stop spending, and it costs money to hire people.
Also, fewer job opportunities tend to pop up, and the hiring process often takes longer over the holidays when HR or certain departments go on vacation. If you’re job searching during this time of the year, it could be the job market that’s leading you to come up empty-handed.
If you’ve only just started your job search, you’re likely not in a slump—yet. Clients that I work with take on average two to three months to land a job offer. Past that amount of time, I am inclined to believe it’s something the job seeker is doing that’s affecting their prospects, rather than seasonal trends.
If someone is not landing interviews, that may be an indicator that their resume needs some improvement. Or maybe they have a good resume, but they’re not tailoring their resume specifically enough to the jobs they’re applying to.
For candidates who are making it to the job interview but not getting past the first few rounds, I believe that their interviewing skills need help. Maybe they are coming across as overly anxious, or lack preparedness. Running your interviewing answers by a friend or trusted colleague can give you a sense of whether it’s you that’s holding you back.
Let’s say you’ve done everything right—your resume and cover letter are highly personalized and well written, you go into interviews with concise and confident responses, and overall it feels like you have a good handle on your job search, except for the amount of jobs available to you.
Here are a few additional productive things you can do to weed out opportunities and impress hiring managers now and in the future.
Reconnect with recruiters from old job interviews
Former Connections that you had a good rapport with down the road. Guess what? This strategy has worked for my clients and others in landing jobs after being rejected.
Grab coffee with people, no strings attached
In fact, make it clear from the get-go that you’re just there to talk and catch up. I always tell my clients, when you connect with people for informal interviews or conversations, the goal should be to learn about them. How did you get where you are? What’s worked for you? What advice would you give for someone like me who’s looking to grow in my career?
Take advantage of their insights to rethink your job search strategy,
Connect with fellow job seekers
Other job seekers are the best support system during slow periods because they cannot only relate to your predicament, but they also can give you advice in areas where you may be struggling or they have more experience.
Learn a new skill—or hone a current one
Jobs are ever evolving, which means a role you think you’re qualified for may actually require skills you hadn’t considered. If a role has been posted for some time or was paused for a period, a hiring manager may also be looking for a skill they didn’t list initially in the job description. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on new, innovative skills (artificial intelligence and ChatGPT, for example, are only becoming more and more relevant for companies) or hone skills you maybe haven’t exercised in a while.
I really advise job seekers to remember that there is an opportunity for them with their name on it out there. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of patience and timing.