Let me just start with the simple truth that looking for the next gig sucks! And that is a sad truth coming from someone who enjoys change and new challenges. I believe it doesn't matter whether you are an “active” passive candidate (defined as I've got a job but am sort of looking), laid-off, fired or if you just completed a consultative/contingency gig. The whole process is painful.

The process at times is overwhelming, and complicated by the fact that in order to land the next job you are required to ask yourself some rather tough questions, such as,  what am I good at or not, what do I want to do, and what am I willing to do, just to name a few. An honest evaluation of one’s strengths and weaknesses, one’s hope, sense of purpose, and career goals is not easy. In other words, to decide and then advertise one’s calling is a tall order. Add the self-imposed stressful notion that “I've got to land that next gig NOW!”  The “now” is often the money or lack thereof talking, but there is more to it than that.

Over the years, I have worked and looked for work under many different scenarios. I worked at small, mid and large size companies, domestic and global. I've been a freelance designer, consultant, hourly employee, and a salary employee with all the bells and whistles. Although I was never fired, I have always hated the transitional period between gigs. I know I am not alone, and as mentioned it is not the fear of change I dread, I happen to like a new challenge, but it’s the stress of selling oneself that is the real killer.

One should think that by now, after having worked in the HR and Recruiting industry for more than 10 years, I would know what should land me a good job. But really, do you know how hard “should” is to execute? Let’s just start by mentioning the resume. What to include or not, format, font, layout and length. The resume itself is worth some serious conversation but I will leave that for another time. With all the tools out there, and all the social media hype, it is still a wonder that it can take an e-t-e-r-n-i-t-y to find the next gig.

OK, now you’re probably wondering what my definition of eternity is. 30 days! Yes, 30 days is an eternity for a job seeker. And I tell you it doesn’t matter if you are 16 going out for your first job or you are 30+ years down the career path. There is so much at stake that you are often exhausted beyond belief after the first week of searching and networking. 30 days to someone happily working is just a blink of an eye, and that is just one of the many problems any job seeker is up against. Your sense of time vs. a job seeker’s sense of time. Please don’t laugh at 30 days being an eternity. Remember, most of us live in an environment where we still believe work defines who we are and what we are made of. So much so that the job seeker puts undue stress on herself and naturally becomes her own worst enemy/barrier to landing the next gig. In my experience you've got to let go of what was, fall totally apart (that includes getting over feeling sorry for yourself and the many people you feel you are letting down), then recover and then, and only then, are you ready to go to work to get a job. Painful, painful, painful!

Here’s the thing. There are truly only two categories of job seekers, and that is very desperate or slightly desperate. Desperate are the ones with little to no resources. The second group has time, say 3-12 months in reserve, to land the right job. I have been in both camps at different times in my life, and I’m not sure that it makes a whole lot of difference on the stress level, but it might just make a big difference on the number of bad choices made in an effort to find employment. I have come to believe most job seekers do belong to category one – I need a job, and I need a job now! I have bills to pay and have my honor to preserve. That stress is what makes it so difficult for everyone involved, be they the seekers, the recruiters or the hiring managers. Desperate job seekers do desperate things regardless of the economic environment, in good as well as in bad times.

This is what I know to be true, desperate job seekers:

  • Apply to anything that might be a good fit
  • Skip the cover letter – it’s too hard and takes too long… better to get in front of the recruiter now!
  • Send the same resume listing everything we have ever done to every job posting that might be a fit
  • Say yes to every job board asking us to join
  • Keep adding more keywords on our social profile trying to cover all our bases – we are both leaders and followers – “Just tell me what you need.”

So what to do?

Here are a few suggestions that might help us all.

Job seeker:

Stop to think, think to stop.

Dedicate your search to jobs you are good at and/or like to pursue – the perceived pressure from family, friends, and the kind people at the local employment service office is just that, PERCEIVED.

Select 2 or 3 job boards to work with – create a full profile and use their free service offerings. There are quite a few good pieces of advice and services to be explored.

Update your LinkedIn profile, review your Facebook posts, and Google your own name – how do you look?

Stay real and true to who you are and what you are capable of and willing to provide – do not stretch the truth and say yes to something you can’t deliver on, ever!


Let me start with these two words: job description! Please try a little harder. There must be a better way to communicate. Some job descriptions are so long on “wants” that one can only wonder if such a person even exists. And then there is a lot of this:

MARKETING/ Activities XYZ Healthcare & Rehab is a 5 star, Silver Award winning facility looking for the right person for a full- time marketer and part-time activities. Prefer long term or post acute care experience. Please send resume to www…….

This makes me think you are a really cheap operation looking for two very different positions to be filled in one nondescript ad. BTW, does a marketer really need post acute care experience?

Drop that educational requirement from your job description and ATS filter for job openings expecting 10+ years of experience in the field or related field. Think about it, most of us went to college or trade school for X and guess what? We ended up doing Y and now, after 10+ years in the field, we believe we are relevant and good at it. That is the beauty of working in the US - the country of great opportunity! Most of us tried a few different things after we received our diploma. (I’m not suggesting education doesn't matter but I think you know what I mean.) And by the way, why not specify “related field”? I bet you only have one or two in mind.

Please do turn on that automated “thank you for applying” – it feels good to hear back from you all - yes, even from the robots. It’s the least you can do after we spend 30-60 minutes to apply to your job posting preceded by an hour or so of getting the cover letter tweaked just so we appeal to your company’s needs.

Hiring Managers:

One simple request. We know you are busy and you are looking for good people to help you and the company succeed. Just give us the list of must haves and only one or two nice to haves. It would make it all so much easier for both the job seeker and the recruiter.

I wish you all the best of luck finding the next gig or that perfect candidate with the imperfect resume!

Views: 570

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on March 26, 2014 at 6:08pm

Thanks, Anna.  I'm there too- as a CR, I'm often looking for my next gig. (My latest is winding down now after 10 months.)

I appreciate  a report from the REAL WORLD- your statements are so very true-to-life. That's why I find all the discussions of  "you need to make sure that job seekers pick YOUR company or position over all the others." or "I've never needed to look for a job in my life- my record speaks for me and I'm always fending off job offers out there" so insufferable. What percentage of jobseekers are like that?

Folks, here's something/someone that helps me in my search:

I pay my VIrtual Assistant in the PI $2.44/hr to apply to jobs for me/submitting online resumes. Using her produced good results last time and are producing more this time, too. Would it be worth under $2.00 for someone to fill out a stupidly-long online application for you?


Comment by Anna Brekka on March 26, 2014 at 6:17pm

Thank you Keith - it is my truth on the matter.

Must say I never thought of hiring a virtual assistant to apply.


Comment by Amber on March 26, 2014 at 6:49pm

Many good points, Anna. I have only looked for a job once in the last 20 years, about 5 years ago and it was not fun or fruitful. The plus side for me was deciding to join my husband in agency recruiting. (Plus side now- not always so much during the 1st year or so while we adjusted!) But I don't think there is much I have learned form this side of things that would actually help in getting a job. Sure, I have learned a few more tricks to find people, etc., but if I were going back to that prior career field it wouldn't help that much.

As a recruiter, the job description thing is a work in progress. Sometimes there isn't a lot of "exciting" things to add. Luckily we recruit a lot in engineering fields, so not much excitement needed or noticed, lol!

Good idea, Keith for the job seekers who aren't on the financial edge. Did you direct her what specific jobs to apply for, or just a general idea?

Comment by Kelly Blokdijk on March 26, 2014 at 6:58pm

@Anna - I think a lot of people will appreciate you sharing this personal account. Very accurate, realistic and timely for how things have been for huge segments of the population in the past several years.

The thing is, for anyone that has not personally experienced this (at least once), there is no way to fully comprehend the magnitude of stress this situation puts on every possible aspect of life during the process of job searching. 

One more item I'd add to the list of things desperate job seekers do is: accepting a (wrong/bad) job offer because they aren't in a position to be selective, so they end up ignoring red flags. Or, accepting because others don't feel they are not justified in turning down ANY job when they don't have one.

It really is a personal decision and everyone's needs are different. So there's no right or wrong choice, just one that needs to be made with as much awareness as possible of personal and professional consequences. I read something not too long ago about how being in a bad work situation is more stressful to some than unemployment. I believe that to be true. 

@Keith - applying for jobs blows, so $2 bucks to outsource that tedious task sounds like a bargain - especially if there is an assurance of quality. I've often joked that I'd pay someone to go on job interviews on my behalf if I could. Just answer all of the questions, jump through all of the hoops and get to the final round and I'll show up when things get serious. How much would that cost? 

Comment by Anna Brekka on March 26, 2014 at 7:44pm

Amber, I hear you as members of this industry we might have a better grasp on finding sources and networking. But in the end it comes down to accepting being a job seeker is hard work and at times very unpleasant. Glad you found your calling in recruiting. 

Comment by Anna Brekka on March 26, 2014 at 7:57pm

Hi Kelly, thank you.

I agree accepting wrong/bad job offer needs to be added to the list of bad choices made by the desperate job seeker. I for one has said yes to something I knew wasn't right and it didn't last long before it gets to the point no job/no money looks better than the wrong job. 

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on March 26, 2014 at 8:51pm

@ Anna: I hadn't thought of using a VA either, before a few months ago.

@ Amber: Thanks. If someone has to count pennies (and I've been there in my life) even $2.44/hr is too much to spend. I give her tinyURLs for job search results, and ask her to apply to them with some exclusions which I tell her. I also give her my information necessary to fill out apps, along w. my resume. Why do I use such a shotgun approach? I've learned that even if I do careful research and lots of work for a given firm, there seems no more likelihood of getting an interview than if I use this approach.

@Kelly: I've been very pleased with what she's done for me, as well as the other work (simple internet research and data entry) that I've had her do.

Comment by Matt Charney on March 27, 2014 at 10:17am

@Anna - great post.  Thanks so much for contributing your perspective.  Looking for a new gig does suck, but unfortunately too many recruiters forget that as soon as they onboard, so think this is a valuable reminder (and advice) about what we all have to go through - all of us - to advance our livelihoods (and hopefully, quality of life).

I personally, however, am delighted by the resolution and am so excited to be working with you! Here's hoping neither of us has to go through a job search any time in the foreseeable future :)

Comment by Maren Hogan on March 27, 2014 at 10:30am

Love this Anna! What a great way to remind all of us what we're SUPPOSED to be doing. Jobseekers must do their part, but recruiters, or even marketers of recruiting technologies have to realize how tough it is out there. Great first post! Hope it goes viral! Each section could be its own post!!

Comment by Anna Brekka on March 27, 2014 at 10:31am

@Matt - Thank you so much!

Agree, we all have an tendency to forget the pain of uncertainty once we arrived on the other side.


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