Conquer Fear | get yourself hired

Tough Job Search – time for Plan B?

Fork in road

Fork in road

“The job market is pretty tough and there don’t seem to be many opportunities for me out there – should I be looking at other options or is it too soon?”

I get asked a question like this probably two or three times a week at the moment. So what’s the answer? Or is there one?

Well, I am a coach so instead of just trying to answer this straight off I usually throw a few questions back. I want to make sure my client has done and is doing everything possible to be positioned effectively in the market where they will have the most traction – which will give the best prospect of landing a new role as quickly as possible.

6 Key Questions – you may find them useful as a “sense check” on your own job search:

  1. How efficiently are you using your time to source advertised roles? (i.e. focusing on those for which you are extremely well qualified and not spending too much time on this as it is the smallest source of opportunities. Usually not much more than around 25-30% of the available roles)
  2. How well differentiated and targeted are your cover letters and resume when you do apply for an advertised role? Are you hitting the advertiser’s “hot buttons” to have the best chance that your letter and resume will actually be read?
  3. What pre- and post-application contact and follow-up are you doing?
  4. What ongoing relationships have you established with well-connected recruiters who work in your industry and functional niches and what have you done to build rapport and maintain proactive contact – never quite off their radar screen without irritating them?
  5. How much time and effort are you putting into maintaining and building your networks in your chosen industry segment(s)? As a rough rule of thumb it would be ideal to secure 3 to 5 meetings or phone conversations per week with new contacts.
  6. How  effective is your online branding and activity? (Twitter, LinkedIn etc.)

If you are doing all of these things consistently and well, and have been on the market for about 4 to 6 weeks without much success in landing interviews you have two choices. Well, more than that but these will do for now.

Assuming you have good financial resources, stick to your game, be patient, in time the role will come.

In the current Australian market if you are targeting a salary of around $150K or more it is likely that your job search will take 6 months or more. It could be much shorter or in some cases much longer. Make sure you have the reserves to ride out a 6-9 month campaign with no income.

(If your experience  is different or the market you are in has different pressures and timelines I would love to hear from you – feel free to leave a Comment).


Don’t give up on your primary search but start working on Plan  B in parallel – now.

Bear in mind that what works for one may not suit another. So what does Plan B look like for you?

Ideas that have worked for some of my clients

  1. Build a new prospect list in a related but different industry niche; build a new network in this niche to assess the viability of a shift based on your transferable skills
  2. Open up your search to include short and medium term contract roles or consulting assignments
  3. Seek out opportunities to do pro bono work using your skills and experience to benefit a business or NFP that otherwise could not afford your help. Apart from feeling good about making a contribution you never know what new networks this can lead to.
  4. Volunteer – even if not in your core skill areas – helps to get you out of your own head!
  5. Explore buying or starting your own business. Often just doing the research around this opens up avenues you haven’t thought of and gets you introductions to new networks that could even lead to a more conventional role

I hope that some of the thoughts here will help to unlock and accelerate your search for a fantastic new role. If so it would be great if you would consider sharing this through your own social media channels.

(Photo credit: creativelenna)


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