Could you be losing control of your job search?

Here’s how to know:

-after your initial enthusiasm and push to start your job search, things are stalling and you’re not sure why.

-you find yourself with stretches where you don’t know what to do, and you know you should be taking action but you’re not sure which action to take.

-you have a lot of stops and starts in your search, mainly driven by times that you’re waiting to hear back from people.

Every so often, you run out of ideas for what to do next. When that happens, it’s easy to default to this:  you let other people take control of your search.  

What does that look like?

  1. You pause your whole search waiting for someone to get back to you: A recruiter said he/she would get back to you next week with next steps, so you delay other job search activities until you hear back.
  2. Your awesome upcoming interview stops you from looking at other opportunities: You have an interview scheduled at a cool company, so you stop mining your LinkedIn contacts for new leads at other places in the meantime.
  3. Your friend “knows a guy” at your ideal company and so you don’t look for other connections that might help you: Your buddy is going to walk your resume over to someone, so that means you need to wait and see how it goes before looking for other connections at the company.  You don’t keep looking for other people who might give you good insight into the culture or hiring process for the company.
  4. Your online job search comes up empty and you go back to your normal day: No interesting jobs were posted this week, and you don’t have a list of target companies or sectors, so you sign off and come back to your search next week.
  5. Other people create your LinkedIn experience for you: You see things posted on LinkedIn, and sometimes Like or Comment, but you don’t share or create things of your own.
  6. You wait for recruiters to somehow find you on LinkedIn: You hope they magically find you without continuously optimizing your profile and/or doing searches for appropriate, new recruiters to contact.
  7. You want recruiters to be working on your behalf without helping them do so:  You know you contacted some recruiters a few months ago but haven’t heard anything, and don’t want to bother them.  Or, you have the common misconception that they’re working for YOU and you think that they should be contacting you instead of the other way around.  (In fact, they work for the companies who pay them, and it’s nice if you check in periodically to keep top of mind and ask if they need any candidate referrals for current searches.)
  8. You have your heart set on that unicorn of a job that might be posted at the unicorn of a company in Q3:  Someone in your ideal company mentioned something might be coming down the pike in a while, so… (*hits pause on job search*).
  9. You go on an interview for a job you don’t want just because it feels like progress and feels nice to have someone like you: We’ve all been there, and had conversations for “interview practice,” but too many of these can seriously eat up your time (and your excuses for being out of work).
  10. You let your current boss’s moods determine how much energy you put into your job search on a week-to-week basis:  This week, nice guy = no work on your search.  Next week, fire-breathing dragon = long lunches polishing up your resume.

The truth is that job searches (especially extended ones in a highly competitive market) require a lot of patience and persistence.

Anyone who’s conducted a long job search will tell you that the right job search mindset is crucial to your eventual success.  Finding a job feels like running a marathon (or five in a row) and always takes longer and is much more complex than you think.

If you think you might be losing control of your job search, here’s the job search mindset that helps you get back on track:

  1. I don’t stop or pause my search to wait for others.
  2. I carve out time to prepare for interviews, but I don’t stop other job search activities.
  3. I am in control of the outreach part of my search.  Others may delay, disappear, or disappoint, but I always control how many actions I take to reach out to others.  I use my network to find people at target companies to see if they’ll (briefly) speak to me about opportunities there.  I keep my contacts posted and I’m respectful of their time.
  4. I am intentional about my job search and have a clear target and job search plan I follow regularly, even if no apparent “job leads” get posted.
  5. I share great ideas about my profession and I actively participate on LinkedIn (for example, sharing insightful articles on LinkedIn) so that others know I care about my work.
  6. I regularly research and reach out to *appropriate* recruiters on LinkedIn (*recruiters who fill your type of target role in your type of target sector).
  7. I take responsibility for reaching out to recruiters, succinctly, respectfully and routinely.  I offer to connect recruiters to people within my network to help with other searches.
  8. I continue a broad job search even if I have my heart set on one particular opportunity.
  9. I respect my own time and only go on interviews for jobs I’d seriously consider taking.
  10. I have specific steps I take every week no matter what.  I don’t let my current job and/or current boss affect my progress. I have a positive job search mindset that focuses on finding NEW opportunities, NEW connections, and NEW target companies consistently.

A successful job search relies on a sustained, repeatable process that’s applied consistently over time, instead of short, unfocused bursts of activity. If you find yourself losing control of your job search, it’s time to take a look at your pattern of activity and remember who’s in charge…


You have the vision of something new, the change you need in your professional life. Hold on to that vision, and keep working to make it reality, no matter what else is happening around you.