Job search frustration, is it the time to give up your dream job?

Repeated failure is not necessarily an indicator of unattainable success. Many great inventors persisted for years through repeated failures to find a solution that worked. One can easily presume that they persisted because they intuitively believed strongly that it would work.

You never fail until you stop trying. by – Albert Einstein.

Having said that, how many inventors spent their whole lives searching for something and never found success? We never hear about those stories of course, but there must be many. A good example would be flying. Many inventors over the centuries devoted a lot of energy to solving that riddle right back as far as Leonardo da Vinci, but none succeeded until the Wright brothers in 1903.

I’m just using inventions as an example, but the same thinking applies to all aspects of life. In the absence of any hard evidence either way, you’ve just got to trust your instinct. If you believe what you’re doing can work, then you are far more likely to make it work. But you don’t know the future of course. Maybe it won’t work and maybe you will waste your time, but if you follow what you believe to be right, you can never regret your choices.

Just ask yourself this question : Is it right for me to continue with this? And listen to your inner voice.

When it comes to job search frustration, what makes the average job search difficult is the fact that you’re making no progress. It’s apply, apply, apply, apply, and when the stars align, you have a job.

Imagine on the other hand that you were getting consistent feedback and progress. Every day, you learn something new, and 4 weeks in, you know you’re 40% of the way through your job search, and that you can expect to have a good job by week 10. Even if the search takes exactly the same amount of time, it’s a lot less frustrating.

So the way to reduce negativity is to use a job search process that gives consistent feedback and progress. Now, I can’t guarantee that my process will get you a job in X weeks, but it will provide consistent feedback and progress:

  1. Pick a very specific job title and company profile that you’re interested in. This seems counter intuitive-shouldn’t you be flexible when searching for a job? But consider the following situation: if Jane tells Judy that she wants to work as a Social Media Coordinator at a startup with less than 50 people, and Judy hears about a Social Media Specialist job at a company with 60 people, Judy will probably refer Jane. But if Jane tells Judy that she wants to work in online marketing, Judy will say “Oh, that’s nice” and promptly forget that Jane exists. It’s much better to be too specific than too general. As a personal example, I told people I wanted a job doing Lisp at a startup that does Machine Learning for Marketing. I got a job doing SQL at a startup that does Machine Learning for Sales, and it ended up being my best job so far.
  2. Use LinkedIn to find people who are or were in your dream job. You can use the LinkedIn advanced people search to find people pretty easily. Then, send them a message saying you’re interested in job X and would love to hear their experience. Use the words “informational interview”-this implies that you’re not asking THEM for a job, you just want to hear about it. Ask them to meet for lunch if they’re local, or for a phone call if they’re not. Personally, I’ve found that about 20% of people will be happy to talk, or 50% if they have something in common with you (e.g. same alma mater.)
  3. Talk to these people to see if your dream job makes sense. If it turns out your proposed job would be a horrible match for you, go back to step 1 with a new job title. Otherwise, ask your interviewee if they know anyone who’s hiring. Do not ask them for the job. If they ask for your resume, pass it along, but at this point you want to be really nice to this person-they took time out of their day just to help you! Make sure to send them a thank you note afterwards, etc.
  4. Once you’ve finalized your job title/company combination, start networking aggressively. Every two weeks, send an email to your contacts asking them if they know of anyone who’s hiring for your dream job. Reach out to hiring managers directly on LinkedIn and ask to meet with them. Go to meetups where people in your job work. Tell everyone that you’re looking for job X. Because you’re so specific in your requests, people will often refer you to friends of friends of friends-it’s just so easy to pass your name along!
  5. At this point, you should start getting plenty of formal interview offers (as opposed to the informational interviews in step 3). Now that you’ve got interviews, either pass them or learn how to interview well. After each interview, ask your contact related to the company for feedback. Since they knew you personally, they’ll be much more likely to give you real feedback than a normal recruiter would. Use this feedback to keep improving until you get a job.

You’ll notice that this approach is very procedural-at any time, you can tell which stage you’re in. The fact that you’re moving from stage to stage means you’ll experience a lot less anxiety. Plus, you’ll probably get a much better job than if you just fire off resumes and cover letters.

While waiting for the right job comes to you, do something as long as you don’t have anything else for you to do! Keep yourself occupied. Find something more interesting? Analyse what’s better, the thing that you’re currently doing or the new budding interest.

You continue doing something only as long as it makes you feel good about yourself or benefits you financially. Later on when you explore things and find other stuff to be more interesting and pleasing, that is the time you leave what you’re doing and start doing the other thing. But we humans are lighter than feathers in swaying along the winds of distractions and thus, we fail to understand that we majorly end up doing things of lesser importance and impact our lives in a negative manner. So it becomes very important to reserve a bigger portion of your decision making to practical aspects rather than emotional aspects.

Again, YOU ARE NOT ALONE in this job search frustration. In my client market (those in professional business and finance positions making between $92K and $220K base salary) there are about 4.2 million people in jobs right now.  (About 40% of those are looking for another job even though they have one.)   There are another 2.5 million who are “officially” unemployed and yet another 1-2 million who are not counted as unemployed because they are either “consultants” (out of work but not wanting to seem like it) OR they can’t get unemployment since they’ve worked  for so many years, OR they are just too embarrassed to sign up for unemployment.   So, my point is that your competition for jobs right now is very stiff — about 82 completely qualified candidates for each professional business management job in The US. And we both know that at least 100 more unqualified candidates apply as well.  And this creates frustrations about not being called back when you apply, and frustrations about seemingly not being qualified for jobs, and impatience about the process taking too long.

Obviously you’re not alone in this frustration.  However, you will need to put some thought into how employers will be searching for you, so that you can be found in the crowd.  You need to position yourself virtually so that the internet will “index” you correctly and so that your name comes up in the relevant searches for candidates like you.  Yes, even for high level executives, it’s now about the internet and the race to notoriety.

In the nutshell, you should give up when something is no longer fulfilling. A job, a relationship, a hobby, etc.

A little voice inside you will say, can I keep pushing? If you have nothing left to give, take a different route. It’s not so much giving up as much as redirecting your energy into something that is life giving.

Also, don’t forget to look at the long and short term impacts of your actions. For example, if you are giving up on a job but don’t have savings, you should probably tough out the job until you do.

If it’s a relationship you are giving up on, who else will be affected? Are their children involved?

Each situation is very different. Think about how much more of yourself you can realistically give, and then think about the implications.

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