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Counterintuitive Job Searching

Several years ago, I was playing cards with my family and I was losing (badly). I don’t like to lose, so I started thinking longer and longer and longer before I took my turn...

By Kendell Brown

Kendell Brown is a former member of the iRelaunch Career Coaching team. Founder of Ascension Careers and a relauncher herself, She works with clients with to ascertain and achieve their career goals via strategic planning, positioning and branding assessments, identifying transferrable skills and providing counsel for working through challenging work situations.

Several years ago, I was playing cards with my family and I was losing (badly). I don’t like to lose, so I started thinking longer and longer and longer before I took my turn. Unfortunately, this led to me doing even worse. It finally got to a point at which when it was my turn, my daughter would look at me and say “Opposite”. Basically, she was saying what you’ve been doing isn’t working – try something else. Once in a while, when I have a client that has been unsuccessfully job searching – I look at them and say “Opposite”. A lot of job searching advice is tried and true – it works so we rinse and repeat. But sometimes that tried and true is hindering your progress instead of helping it. So here are 5 counterintuitive job search tactics they may be unexpected and the exact opposite of what you’ve been doing, but they might be just what you need.

Be a mentor

You’re probably thinking that you have nothing to offer someone else and in fact, that you need all of the help that you can get. However, as you’ve been job searching, you’ve developed an expertise in looking for a job. You may see this as unfinished work – because you have yet to land a position. But think about it – wouldn’t you have loved to have someone walk you through their decision to return to work? How another relauncher started figuring out what they wanted to do, creating a LinkedIn profile and getting over networking apprehension. Paying it forward may lead to someone “paying you back”.

Change your focus

Most of my clients pursue several career paths, but they typically prioritize one and significantly devote their energies to that one pursuit. They use the 80/20 rule and spend 80% of their job searching time looking for what they want most and 20% of their time on job alternatives that they wouldn’t necessarily love but would deem acceptable. Well, try flipping that time equation on its head. For 2 weeks, commit to an all-out search on those “good enough” jobs. You may realize that there’s a lot more to like and consider in those jobs. Or you may gain new perspective on those roles that you’ve been favoring.

Get more involved

Often when a client decides to go back to work, they quit their volunteer activities to allocate time to job searching. They do this so that can they can prep and prepare for networking, interviewing and company research. However, what they are actually doing is cutting back on skill building just when they need it most. Employers want to know that you your skills are current. Hiring managers want to know that you can make an immediate impact. Maintaining a decent level of “work” (volunteering, freelancing, small-scale consulting) is a meaningful way to show that your skills are relevant, useful and beneficial.

Be a copycat

Everywhere you go, you’re told to create and cultivate your personal brand. You spend tons of time thinking about what makes you unique. But remember in middle school how you did everything to be just like everyone else? Do the same thing now. Talk to someone that’s recently landed a job. What did they do, how did they tell their story, what was their networking strategy? Listen and do the same. It worked before for your friend – it can work for you too.

Overhaul your imperatives

Perhaps you decided to go back into the workforce, but were insistent that the commute not exceed 30 minutes or that the maximum number of hours you would work could not exceed 25. Many relaunchers consider their list of “must haves” incontrovertible. However, if you’re in the midst of an extended job search, it may be time to reconsider your job imperatives. With the pandemic, so much about working is being recalculated. Could you have an hour+ commute, if you only commuted 2 days a week? Could you handle a full-time schedule if you worked from home? Most of the time, imperatives are necessary boundaries for us to effectively relaunch. However, if you can soften those requirements, doing so may give you the wiggle room to successfully expand your search.

Try a few of these “opposite” strategies, they may reinvigorate your search and land you were you wanted to be all along.

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