You should’ve started working on this six months ago. You’re way behind and aren’t going to reach your destination on schedule.
By the time most people call me for help with their job search, it’s too late. No, not too late to find a great job (it’s never too late for that!), but way too late to find it in the next month or two. This process takes time. Maybe, maybe three months if you hit the ground running, hustle your butt off, have a great existing network, and lady luck is on your side. For most people, it’s more like six to nine months. And sometimes, through no fault of your own, it can take even longer than that.
Yeah, yeah, I know – there was that one time you answered an ad on Craigslist, got a call the next day, interviewed a few days after that, and started the new job the following week. (Oh, wait, that was my life! And it turned out to be the worst job ever. I’ll write about that another time.) Those things do happen, but they’re anomalies. If you’re expecting this to be swift, you’re going to be disappointed.
We’re dealing with a hyper-competitive, over-saturated job market. It’s gnarly out there. Your job search is a marathon, not a sprint.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, there are additional factors that will make your search take longer than average:
- You’re at a senior level. Depending on your market, it may mean that you hold a title like Director, VP, or C-level. Or you’re earning over $150k/year.
- You’re in a specialized niche and there simply aren’t that many people demanding your talents.
- You’re in an oversaturated field (I’m looking at you, Event Planners and Graphic Designers), and you want a full-time job with amazing benefits.
- You’re transitioning to a new field and can’t compete on paper with people who are more established.
- You’ve been out of the work force for a while.
- You’ve been self-employed for a number of years.
- You left your last job on bad terms and/or don’t have solid references.
Why This Is Going To Take Time
Why the heck is this going to take so long? Why can’t you have a shiny new resume tomorrow and a brand new job within a month? I’ll tell you why:
1. Shiny new resumes don’t materialize over night
Whether you choose to DIY or hire a pro, researching, writing, and revisions take time. Plan on 1-3 weeks before you’ll have a decent resume in hand.
2. Companies move slowly
Repeat after me: job seekers think in hours and days, while employers think in weeks and months.
Gone are the days of a single interview. We now see candidates going through 3 – 5 rounds of interviews. These take time to schedule, and the more people involved, the longer it’ll take.
Beyond that, even when an open requisition desperately needs to be filled, the hiring process often takes a back seat to daily demands. When I was a hiring manager, I frequently found myself suffering because I needed more people on my team, but had to prioritize extinguishing fires over getting an interview on my calendar. Frustrating, but an all too common problem.
3. There are no sure things
You may spend weeks or months interviewing with a company, only to have it fall apart at the end. You lose out to an internal candidate. There’s a hiring freeze. They aren’t willing to negotiate with you. There are dozens of reasons the opportunity you’ve been patiently pursuing won’t materialize into a position. And it can take a while to realize it.
4. Shiny new networks don’t materialize over night
This is the big one. Having a strong network of connections is the best way to find a new job. If you don’t have that strong network today, it’s going to take time to build. Sending out emails or posting status updates announcing you’re in the market for a new job is not networking, and it is not likely to yield good results.
True networking is adding value, helping others, connecting over shared interests, and forming genuine relationships. It doesn’t come from sending a LinkedIn connection request or attending one mixer. It takes time and effort. You’re cultivating and growing something.
For most job seekers who’ve neglected their network, it takes about 90 days to start to feel traction. This is totally normal. If you try to find shortcuts, you will come across as desperate and pushy, and you will alienate people who would otherwise want to help you.
Well. That was brutal. Now, on to the solutions!
You Need to Chill Out
That’s it. Seriously. You need to chill out. The more you allow the urgency to well up inside you, the more difficult this will be. Your qualifications will help you get an audience with prospective employers, but it will be your personality, your likeability, and your aptitude that win you the job. And not surprisingly, people who are stressed out, anxious, balls of fear are not usually very likeable. And don’t bother telling me you do a great job of faking it. If you’re wound too tight, people will pick up on it.
Specific Things You Need to Chill Out About:
- Your Timeline – if you’re just getting started and thinking you’re going to have your job search wrapped up and in the bag in the next month or two, you need to sit down and multiply your timeline by 2-3x.
- Your Resume – you want a resume that’s great, and those don’t come quick or easy. Whether you put in the effort or someone else does it for you, speed and low cost are your enemies on this one.
- Your Network – don’t use a shotgun approach, ask for big favors, or expect people to do your work for you (i.e. to let you know if they hear of anything). Instead, focus on connecting and reconnecting with people you genuinely like and see what you can do to be most helpful to them.
- The Job You Don’t Have Yet – developing an attachment to a position that isn’t yours opens you up to crushing disappointment. Be as detached as you can in this process. Things will constantly slip away and be replaced by other opportunities. Remain open to new possibilities and keep your running shoes nearby.
The more you make a conscious effort to relax and view this as a process, the better your results will be. Your network will grow. The interviews will come. The job will happen.