How to Take Charge of Your Dead-End Job Search

Last weekend the power went out while sitting at the movie theatre watching Wild.  After awhile, I struck up a conversation with the young woman sitting next to me, a bubbly, recent college grad named Rachel. I asked her about her life, and within minutes her sparkle dulled as she expressed her frustration with her dead-end  job selling shoes. With further probing, I learned 3 things she’s not doing in her job search that are keeping her stuck.

Her frustrations are universal. By adopting  the following remedies, she can pull her job search forward and kiss her retail job goodbye.Breakthrough dead end job search1

Here’s what she told me:

1) Her job search is isolated.

“I do it by myself,” she said.

In today’s market, that approach will prolong her search and keep her knee-deep in shoe boxes. According to career expert Orville Pierson, those who join fellow job-seekers in community shorten their search by 20%. In other words, a 5 month search becomes 4. Job searching with others will boost your morale, hold you accountable, provide networking opportunities, and give you up-to-the-minute information about job search strategies.

In the U.S., I suggest  connecting to free, state-funded job search centers  here, by entering your zip code in the Get Help Near You section. These centers offer workshops on  all aspects of job search.

In 2006 when I was between jobs, I credit my job search community for landing my job in the hidden job market. At a job search club I belonged to, I recruited guest speakers each week. One of the speakers I interviewed liked me so much he hired me. Joining community is vital in your job search.

2) Her LinkedIn Profile is “meh.” 

“I’m not a good writer, plus I’m not good at bragging about myself!” she said.

I hear these two complaints a lot from job seekers; however, clinging to them may hold you back, and here’s why.

A well-written LinkedIn profile is the linchpin of your career search, which I wrote about here. Let’s pretend you start chatting with a hiring manager at a movie theater when the power goes out–could happen right? You exchange business cards. The first thing she will do when she gets to the office is Google  you. The top result of her search in most cases will be your LinkedIn profile. While chatting with Rachel during the power outtage, I peeked at her Profile on my Smart phone. Her Summary section is a desultory list of keywords, reflecting none of her dazzle.

Now back to her bragging concern. Instead, I suggest you reframe “bragging” as educating others quickly about how you offer value. You know how the app Shazam detects an unknown song in an instant? Your well-branded, results-driven,  and engaging profile works just like Shazam. Showcase your value in an irresistible way on LinkedIn, and you will get found.

3) She avoids networking events.

“Who knows who will show up at those things?!” she said.

Since 80% of jobs are filled through referral, networking is key to job search.  If you’re anxious about networking, start with less overtly “networky” events. Rachel loves ping pong and is passionate about homelessness. She can join a local table-tennis club and volunteer at local homeless shelters. She can also bring a friend to feel safer.

During job search, it’s important  to “bump up” against new people to befriend. As Susan Cain says, you don’t have to be opportunistic when networking. Instead,  “Find someone in the room who’s a kindred spirit.” Creating a genuine connection will create goodwill, a friend in the world who will say great things about you.

In an interesting parallel, when the movie re-starts, the main character Cheryl Strayed quotes Emily Dickenson and says, “If your Nerve deny you – Go above your Nerve.” To break out of her dead-end job, Rachel will need to go above her nerve. When she does, she will find a job she loves.

image: © Depositphotos.com/lightsource

Julie Bondy Roberts, MA, GCDF is a  LinkedIn™ Profile Writer and LinkedIn trainer  She is the founder of  Coming Alive Career Coaching. To learn more about LinkedIn™ Profile Makeover packages & training your group or organization on growing your business through LinkedIn, contact Julie at juliebondyroberts@gmail.com.  You can also follow Julie on Twitter and Facebook.  

I hope you found some helpful information on this list. If you did, be sure to share this article with your connections. They will definitely appreciate your thoughtfulness.

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