In 2014, the worst waves of the recent economic slowdown have passed, and the job market is heading down the long road to recovery. In cities where 2008 and 2009 unemployment reached record highs, employers are now reopening their doors and sustainable, promising companies are beginning the application review process.
But this isn’t comforting news for laid-off job seekers who still haven’t managed to find their footing. Unemployment may be down and hiring may be up across most industry sectors, but the average job search still lasts between six and eight months.
And as long-term unemployed job seekers will tell you, this marathon isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’re approaching (or you’ve long passed) the eight-month mark and you aren’t sure what the future holds for you, don’t give up. For the sake of your family, your creditors, and your eventual retirement, you need to earn a living.
But keep in mind that “giving up” does NOT include changing your plans, shifting your focus, starting over from the beginning, or revising your job search strategy. Here are a few regrouping moves to keep on the table if your job search is simply taking too long.
1. Stop for a week.
For one week, don’t submit a single resume. Instead, take the same amount of time you’ve been devoting to your restless, relentless job search and use that time to re-evaluate your mission and redraft your plans. If you’ve been spending all your time online, resolve to spend less time online and more time networking in the real world.
2. Become geographically flexible.
If you’ve been looking for work within a 10-mile radius of where you live, expand that radius to 50 miles. If you believe you can’t tolerate a commute of more than an hour, stretch your tolerance to an hour and 30 minutes. You may be pushed beyond your comfort zone, but the reality may not be as bad as you expect. And the rewards may make a long commute seem like a small price to pay.
While you’re expanding your commuting distance, it may be time to adjust your willingness to move in order to follow opportunities in your industry. Just this small change in your search can open an avalanche of doors. Talk about the possibility with your family.
3. Take a stepping-stone job.
Some employers will try to tell you that it’s sketchy or dishonest to accept a permanent position that you don’t intend to keep forever. Ignore this. There’s nothing wrong with protecting yourself, your career, your finances, and your future by taking a less-than-perfect offer while continuing to search for something better. Don’t announce this plan to your potential employers, but by all means, place it on the table if it isn’t there already.
4. Shift your focus.
If you’re searching for work as a mid-level accountant for a private company in the insurance sector and you have no plans to settle for anything outside of this narrow corridor, it’s time to change this attitude. Expand your options, and don’t just expand them across the accounting field. No matter how old you may be, it’s not too late to step into a different industry altogether—from marketing to hospitality to healthcare.
You’ll need a roadmap and you may need to start retraining from square one, but if anyone in the world can tackle these challenges, then so can you. Keep your mind open and be ready to let go of plans and goals that aren’t right for you.
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