Troubleshoot Your Job Search: Before Starting

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Almost every time someone comes to me for coaching it’s because their job search has stalled out. They feel like they’re constantly hitting a wall or are overwhelmed with how intense the whole process is.

My years of career counseling have shown me that instead of going around in circles by doing the same strategies over and over again without results, you have to take a step back and view your job search from an outside perspective. Taking a critical assessment of what’s going on is the only way to figure out why you’re stuck; that’s what I call troubleshooting your job search.

Read this blog post to get your job search moving forward again so you can land offers.

You Deserve to Like Your Job

My name is Kate Tudoreanu (aka Career Coach Kate) and I support people to land offers that get them paid well to do work they enjoy. The fact is that if you have to spend 90,000 hours of your life at work, you should get to enjoy it. Making money doing what you enjoy is part of creating a dream life for yourself. If one part of life is a drag and unfulfilling, then it’s going to bring down how you feel about the rest of it.

The 4 Stages of Job Search

When I talk about job search, I break it down into 4 parts:

  • Stage 1: Before you start
  • Stage 2: Application/Resume
  • Stage 3: Interviewing 1st or 2nd round
  • Stage 4: Final interview before the offer

What to Do Before You Start the Job Search

In this post, I share tips about how to troubleshoot your job search if you’re stuck in stage 1, which is before you’ve even gotten started. You may also be stuck here if you keep looking at job postings and hesitate to even apply.

Prepare Well and Have A Quick Job Search

Stage 1 is when it’s vital to maximize your time. This way, you’re doing some leg work now to get the most out of your job search later. Using the time wisely will mean you put in less effort overall during your search and land offers more quickly.

Unless you’re unemployed, there’s no need to rush into the job search. Even if your mental health is suffering or you’re experiencing burnout, taking extra time to ensure a positive job search will mean you DON’T end up in a company or position that leads to the same outcome. That’s a hamster wheel you don’t want to stay stuck in.

When you do job search without any preparation, you might end up taking the first offer later to find out it’s not the right fit or apply for jobs you actually don’t want. Let’s make sure you never end up in a job you hate again!

Stategy #1: Find A Direction

No one wants job search to be a “full-time job.” To prevent that, start with deciding what direction(s) to go in. This requires self-reflection.

There’s no easy answer because the career options are individual to you. Honestly, you could Google yourself to death trying to figure it out, which is why the process needs to be centered around what’s important to you. If you join my free group The Confident Career Society, there’s a whole unit in the guides section that talks about this.

Even just a couple of weeks of reflection and exploration can help you identify which career paths you’ll enjoy. Keep your desires at the center of your self-reflection and don’t allow other people’s opinions to guide you. That usually takes you on the wrong course when your heart or gut is the only thing that can actually guide you towards the right fit.

If you find yourself worried before even starting the search, most likely you feel paralyzed because you don’t know what you’d enjoy. That’s why this first stage shouldn’t be skipped.

Strategy #2: Grow Your Confidence

You may also feel paralyzed with indecision or balk at applying for jobs that you don’t feel qualified for because of imposter syndrome. This first stage is when you get to hype yourself up. Work on your confidence before diving into the job search.

During this stage, I have my clients do what I call “the instant confidence boost” which was taught to me by one of my coaches. It’s an exercise where you list 25 positive things about yourself. It’s just one way to show yourself that you bring so much to the table and any employer would be lucky enough to hire you.

Strategy #3: Document Your Career Stories

This is also the best time to build what I call your “career stories bank.” It’s easier to do this once you’ve narrowed down the types of positions you want to go for to your top 1-3. Based on the responsibilities of those positions and common interview questions, you’ll make notes about examples of times you’ve demonstrated particular skills. These are essential for writing cover letters and nailing your interview responses.

Strategy #4: Network Ahead of Time

The final best use of your time right now is to network. It’s something we only think to do when we’re looking for a new job and by then, it’s too late. Your job search is actually the worst time to start a habit of networking and building connections.

Many times, unless we’re getting referrals through friends and family, networking is a long game. It involves using LinkedIn, researching and scheduling informational interviews which isn’t something that can be done in one weekend. Typically it will take months to make a solid connection.

The focus of networking is about making genuine connections and thinking about who you can help in the future, not just on who can get you a job right now. If someone feels used, there’s the potential for resentment to be build.

Never leave it until this part until it’s too late, so begin before you start the job hunt.

What Next?

From here, I invite you to take the following action steps:

  • Consider the strategies shared here; which ones haven’t you done before or which could you do more effectively?
  • Join The Confident Career Society group on Facebook to share about your job search and learn how to improve your career; there’s no reason to go it alone anymore!
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