If your job search or career transition is taking longer than you imagined, consider these five tips to reenergize an extended search.
1. Examine and define the emotions created by an extended search.
An extended job search can be an emotional process. You may feel anxiety, stress, fear — you name it. These emotions seem to stem from feeling vulnerable. If a big part of your identity comes from your work, you may feel especially vulnerable, and you are at risk of becoming stuck. Recognize the emotions that may be holding you back from presenting your most confident self. More importantly, articulate those emotions. Giving them words reduces their power and can give your search new life if you are willing to recognize and share them. Great strength comes from vulnerability if we embrace it.
2. Use your network.
Dr. Brene Brown says the names of those in our network should fit on a sticky note. I could not agree more. There are maybe four or five people I trust enough to talk through feelings of vulnerability. These people are now critical to you. They will support you and give you honest support and insight because, most likely, they have been where you are. Perhaps they've struggled with confidence or some other aspects of themselves and have come out stronger on the other side. These are the people you need now. Call them. Meet with them, and get honest. If they are truly your closest allies, these conversations will give you tremendous relief from sharing your challenge, reduce the power of those feelings that could be holding you back and help you move forward more confidently.
3. Examine your research process.
Many people start at the end of the search process, specifically applying to countless roles with a title they think will fit them rather than backing up and starting at the self-awareness phase. What I mean by this is to spend the time upfront defining the attributes most important to you in your job. Do you want to work remotely? Do you need to be home on the weekends but are willing to travel during the week? Do you want a maximum 30-minute commute? Do you need more relationship building than number crunching? Do you have a set minimum income requirement?
It’s critical to define the attributes most important to you and then do your research so you cast the widest net possible during your research phase. Opportunities and industries you hadn’t even considered will arise by keeping your options broad, at least initially. It’s not too late to go back and do this after you’ve been searching for a while if you think you may have limited yourself at the beginning.
4. Hit the reset button on your networking efforts.
If you’ve followed the first three suggestions, you are ready to reenergize your networking efforts in a way that you can feel confident about. Remember, the most important interview is the informational interview: This is not a sales pitch, but an information gathering session. Start with the people you know best, even if you’ve spoken with them already. If you have, do not shy away from telling them you are breathing new life into your search. Sure, it’s taken longer than you’d like, but you've learned exactly what you want and don't want in your next position and are now casting a wider net in terms of roles, industry or location. You will likely come away with ideas that had not presented themselves before. Role-playing with someone in your network before you move forward with this updated message can help here as well.
5. Have a genuine and compelling response to ‘Tell me about yourself.’
This is who you are, not what you do. There are themes running through your life that you should be able to articulate. I’ve taken many personality tests, but I never responded well until I took a test called the Core Value Index (CVI). It is a scientific measure of the way we are wired. And while I did not love everything the results suggested, they were right on. I can now say that I am a great relationship builder and a problem solver. I’m good with execution but cannot tolerate repetitive tasks for very long. These themes play out all over my life, and they tie my resume together in a way I had not seen before. I strongly suggest you spend time honing this response. Again, role play with trusted advisors. It will help identify if your next opportunity is a fit.
Career transitions and job searches may take longer than we hope, but there are tools we can use and trusted people in our lives who can help us stay confident and strong on our journey. Don’t hesitate to enlist the support. You will have the opportunity to pay it forward in the future.