Job Search Rut
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How to Get Out of a Job Search Rut

When your job search drags out, you may lose steam and be tempted to give up. That’s when you need to try a few new networking tactics and put some healthy boundaries around your search.

By Christie Mims

You wake up tired. You go to bed tired and feel frustrated all the time. You need a new job, but are you going about the search in the right way? What can you do to make the most of your job-searching time and, more important, keep you stress-free? Here are some ideas to help get you back into the game.

Network—with cocktails! Networking can seem overwhelming and draining all at the same time. Many job seekers dread it, thinking, “I have to go make small talk with people I don’t know again? And ask them about work?”

If you have ever had that thought, take a moment to reframe how you think about networking. Instead of viewing it as a chore, put yourself in a situation that you actually enjoy. Brainstorm job ideas with friends over dinner, join a new meet-up that is fun or relevant to your job interests, or attend a charity happy hour or nonprofit event that sounds meaningful to you. It can be hard to push yourself out of your comfort zone, but engaging with people and doing something new can often give you a great idea or contact in your job search process.

Use the right ask. Instead of telling people you meet that you are job searching, tell them specifically what type of job you are looking for and in what field. “I need a new job” is very different from “I am looking for a new job as an HR manager in a small association. I would love to work somewhere that I can help shape. Do you know of anyone hiring?” The detail of your ask paints a picture to your network—they can then see who they should connect you with and help accordingly, versus blindly trying to introduce you to people. Being specific will help make your job search time much shorter and keep you from falling into a rut.


It can be hard to push yourself out of your comfort zone, but engaging with people and doing something new can often give you a great idea or contact in your job search process.

Stop writing cover letters. Many of my clients focused on crafting the perfect cover letter to go with their resume. They spent hours writing, rewriting, and stressing out over getting it right. Once all the writing was done, they sent out their letter and resume to associations and other groups without ever making a personal connection. What happened?

Well, after all of their painstaking work, they did not land a single interview. It was depressing. So if you have a choice, spend your time networking and connecting with people rather than at home writing the perfect cover letter. The truth is, most hiring managers won’t even read it. So save yourself some stress and go out and enjoy that glass of wine at a networking event.

Establish some boundaries. The job search can consume you at times. If it goes on for a while, you can burn out and lose faith. So, if you find yourself feeling hopeless, try to create some boundaries. Focus your job search to certain blocks of time or days of the week, and always allow yourself a few hours to relax and de-stress. This may seem counterintuitive, but if you burn out or lose hope, your job search time expands, rather than contracts.

You are not alone in this, and you can do it. Good luck!

Christie Mims is a career coach who focuses on helping people find their passion in work. Email: [email protected]

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