Are your negative assumptions stalling your job search?

Posted by Amanda Wencel on Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Designing a job search plan, applying for jobs, making new network contacts and the unknown of it all can be very stressful and daunting.  When we don't hear back from jobs that we applied for, we tend to automatically assume a myriad of reasons.  Maybe I was too qualified, or not qualified enough.  Perhaps they wanted to hire internally and I never had a chance.  I'm too old, too young, too .....(insert your reason here).

When those negative voices start, it tends to derail us because one often says "well if I didn't get an interview for this job, they aren't going to look at me for other positions" or "why should I apply for the job again if they didn't give me an interview the first time around?"

In the end, there are so many things out of your control in a job search.  You don't know why a company is hiring, how many people they are hiring, if they want to find someone with everything on their wish list or just as close to a match as possible.  You also don't know how they process their resumes, and if it is a human being on the other side of the computer, or an applicant tracking software system that sent you to the "no" pile.

Workoplis Canada's research states that "job searches can last anywhere from two days to over a year, but for most people it is roughly four months.  During those four months, the majority of Canadians (65%) say that they applied to more than 10 opportunities before being hired." (

Understanding that job search takes time and effort is the first step.  There are many things that ARE in your control. 

  1. Make sure you have a strong resume and cover letter.  Having a poorly written resume, or a resume that is not properly targeted to a job posting will not help your chances.  Having spelling or grammar mistakes will definitely send your resume to the deleted folder.  Have someone proofread for you, and ensure that you are highlighting your skills as requested in the job posting as closely as possible.
  2. Don’t just apply to every job you see.  Understand your skills and experience and have a plan.  The more you research and the closer you match your skills, the better chance you have of being selected.  
  3. Know what your “must have’s” are.  Perhaps you are not willing to relocate, you are only willing to take a certain salary, or you are only looking for a certain level of position.  Understanding that every time you set parameters on your job search, you decrease the amount of postings you can apply for and potentially lengthen your job search.  However, setting your sights on jobs that you are truly interested in will naturally increase the effort you put in because you are more invested in the outcome.
  4. Don’t give up on your top choice.  If you feel that you have the skills, educational and employment qualifications to do a job that you really have your sights set on, don’t give up!  Just because you applied once and didn’t hear back, doesn’t mean that you’ll never be selected.  Instead, do more research on the company to see what your first application may have been lacking.  Try to network within the company to get an informational interview set up, to get an inside scoop on what they are seeking, and tailor your resume accordingly.
  5. Get honest opinions and feedback.  We don’t always see ourselves the way others see us, and sometimes the best thing it do is step back and ask for help.  Have someone look over your job search plan, or review your resume, to see if there are any glaring mistakes or areas of question or contention that should be addressed.


Being able to plan your job search ahead of time in a way that will maximize your chances will inevitably help you to be searching for less time overall.  Talk to other people in the same situation and you will find that you are not alone.  Don't get discouraged!  When we get discouraged, we tend to get passive in our job search and then the negativity can take over.  We lose focus on our plan, our immediate goals and our long term goals.  We stagnate.

Stay tuned for my next article which will discuss this other job search killer - loss of focus - and how you can re-gain control over your job search!






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