How to Restart Your Stalled Job Search

How to Restart Your Stalled Job Search
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Do you feel like the pandemic has brought your job search to a screeching halt? Well, you are not alone: In January 2021, the number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) stood at about 4 million and accounted for 39.5% of the total unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Sometimes the job-hunting process can seem daunting and overwhelming. As a transitioning servicemember, veteran, or military spouse, we have been ingrained and accustomed to some degree of responsibility, success, status, and respect. Consequently, as you find yourself in an endless job search or long-term unemployment situation, you might experience a sense of loss, lowered self-esteem, isolation, and negative feelings such as shock, anger, disbelief, and confusion. At the very least, you might feel out of focus at the thought of being on a path without a known destination for the first time in many years. 


If you find yourself in a situation where nothing seems to be happening, no matter how many vacancy announcements you answer, here are a few ideas that might help you break through and land on the other side. 


Go on a Networking Binge

It is conservatively estimated 75% to 80% of all jobs come through networking. Make sure your friends, family, professional colleagues, and casual acquaintances know what you are looking for, and ask them to keep their eyes and ears open.


Also, don’t just rely upon networking sites and other social media tools.  Take it to the next level and develop an actual relationship with your contacts. By making the deep, personal connection, people will have the tendency to really want to go the extra mile. Let them know you are ready, available, and have the right skills and experience to be the perfect candidate for the position. 


You never know where this extra legwork might lead – an extended cousin may be dating a talent acquisition professional, or an old college friend may be working at one of your target companies. 


Join MOAA's MET Program

Not sure what career path you would like to explore? Want to connect with others in the job-search process? Check out MOAA's virtual Military Executive Transition (MET) program, a one-day workshop to help military leaders and veterans seeking guidance in navigating the civilian sector. The next event is on tap for March 25; Premium and Life members receive significant registration discounts.


Learn More Register Now

Adjust Your Approach

Just because you haven’t been getting any offers for interviews doesn’t mean that your self-marketing products (résumé and cover letters) are bad. And just because you've interviewed for multiple positions without landing an offer doesn't mean interview skills need work. However, it may not be a bad idea to shake things up a bit and tweak your brand. 


For instance, maybe your résumé and cover letters are focused too much on “what you did” with basic job history statements as opposed to “what you can do” -- how your clearly articulated achievements, accomplishments, results and outcomes, can be of value to your future employer. 


When it comes to interviewing, it is a competition with the other highly qualified candidates: Are you the clearly articulating the what you can do to make the employers life easier/better, and the five reasons why they should hire you over the rest of the field?    


MOAA's Transition and Career Center regularly presents webinars offering valuable advice on careers and transitioning, and information on your earned veteran benefits. Check out our archived presentations, some of which are available after initial broadcast to Premium and Life Members only. Join or upgrade now for expert advice on many aspects of your transition.


Don’t Give Up 

It is not uncommon for job seekers to get anxious and nervous when a promising opportunity presents itself. Unfortunately, the company recruiter or hiring manager may perceive this as being desperate or otherwise question your suitability for the demands of the position. No matter how frustrating the job search becomes, be true to your natural self, project confidence, and maintain your sense of worth and value.


Although, you may at times feel as if you are at standstill in your job search it doesn’t mean you are going nowhere. You are just laying the foundation, and it is just a matter of time (and timing) until you land the next position in your career journey. 


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About the Author

Col. Brian D. Anderson, USAF (Ret)
Col. Brian D. Anderson, USAF (Ret)

Anderson joined the staff of MOAA's Career Transition Services Department in August 2011. He served 26 years in the U.S. Air Force in a wide range of command and staff assignments. Connect with him on LinkedIn.