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What to do if your job search is taking longer than you expected

Finding a job can take longer than you would like for many reasons and take a significant mental and emotional toll. So, what can you do when your job search just keeps on going?

On average, it takes Australians almost three months to find a new job. Given this is an average, it also means many people search for longer than this.

If you’re someone who’s been job searching and applying for what feels like too long, here are our top tips on persevering during what can be a difficult time:

1. Speak to a mentor or trusted friend about your approach

Often an extended job search happens for a range of reasons  – the current prospects for that sector or industry, the number of people with your qualifications who are searching, or simply the number of people applying for the same roles as you.

It can be easy to get caught on trying to figure out the reasons your job search isn’t succeeding. If the reasons are within your control, it can be helpful to examine them, but often they are well outside your sphere of influence. So, if you’re falling into the trap of blaming yourself, speaking to someone you trust for a different perspective can help break a negative and unhelpful cycle.

At the very least, ask someone you trust to read through your CV and anything you’re sending to employers, like your cover letter and responses to key selection criteria. if you’re not getting interviews, you may be making some mistakes in how you’ve been presenting yourself that you haven’t noticed before.

2. Take a break

It can be easy to feel a constant need to keep searching. Remember that even though you aren’t employed, job searching is a form of work; it’s taxing, and sometimes you need a break.

Unplug from your devices for a while or unsubscribe from your job alerts  temporarily. Signing up to alerts about new jobs can be helpful in finding available roles, but it can also become overwhelming. Getting a notification every day encouraging you to look at a potential employment opportunity fuels your search – but when you’re fatigued, it can be draining and potentially upsetting.

It is okay to take  a day, or a week, of rest.

3. Learn something new – either professionally, or personally

Unemployment can be a time to upskill, but it can be equally useful to learn new things that aren’t related to work – picking up a new hobby, or learning about something you’ve always been interested in. It’s a great way to protect and boost your mental health and brain function.

If you have time, volunteering can be a great way to make connections and learn new things.

Rebecca McDonald, CEO and Founder of Australian literacy organisation Library for All, says

“There’s nothing like volunteering to demonstrate your ability to learn new skills, contribute value and get some great experience along the way. Once you’re on the inside, network and keep your ear open for opportunities that are coming up.”

4. Attend an event, even if it’s a virtual one

Even if you hate networking, attending an event can be a great way to gather inspiration and energy, especially if you’re feeling down about your industry or your job type. You can find events on Eventbrite, or Humanitix, or through industry associations or umbrella bodies.

Even if an event is taking place virtually, hearing ideas from people in your field may spark some reflection, or motivation to redouble your efforts to get a foot in the door at your next employer.

5. Remember that the length of your search doesn’t reflect your professional value

Taking pride in your accomplishments and the value you have to offer is a key step to succeeding in finding a job. We recently interviewed Diana Khamon, who lost her job during the pandemic, but went on to find her dream job as Philanthropy Manager at St Kilda Mums. She shared this advice for jobseekers who are stuggling with rejection:

Don’t lose hope when you’ve had rejections as your dream job could be around the corner! Every time I was being rejected from something I thought was good for my career, I was actually being redirected to somewhere better. Have self-confidence and apply for roles which attract and challenge you – you’ve got this!”

 

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