How to Jump-Start a Stalled Job Hunt

Martin Yate By Martin Yate February 11, 2020
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Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. 

I have good experience and had a solid 12-year work history, up until the spring of 2019 when I got laid off after a merger. It's been a disaster ever since. I've sent out almost 50 resumes through LinkedIn, Indeed, etc., and I've barely gotten an interview. The economy is good, the new year is here and I need to do something different. What would you suggest?

You've made the same mistake many otherwise successful people make: We graduate of college, get off to a good start, our careers gain traction and then momentum, and it comes to feel like career management takes care of itself if we do good work. Many people come to believe those myths that say, "Work hard, make sacrifices, be loyal and you will be rewarded with job security and success." We take that to mean we don't have to develop career management skills.

Then a catastrophe like yours happens. But because your career has gone well so far, you're not worried until six or eight months later when you realize that you're sinking. Here's what you need to do.

What Problems Do You Solve?

Start by re-examining what you believe about career management and job search. Companies exist to make money by solving problems for their targeted market. These tend to be complex problems that require teams of people working together to create their solution. Each team is comprised of people with unique skills and focus. All these different teams must mesh smoothly to maximize profitability and stability.

Where You Fit In

Your next job lives within one of those departmental teams, where you and your future colleagues must work together to achieve the department's goals. 

What goals do these different departments have in common? Every department is there to help the company make money. It's that simple. So, you need to think about:

  • How your department contributes to the bottom line.
  • How your function supports the department in reaching its goals.

Skill Sets Critical for Survival

The typical professional career spans 50 years, and statistically we change jobs about every four years, making for 12-15 changes in the average career. Consequently, if you evaluate all the necessary skill sets needed for survival, success and professional stability over a long professional career, it's clear that three of your most critical skills are your ability to:

It's time to step back and re-evaluate your skills in each of these areas and then set about improving, as part of an overall plan to upgrade your entire approach to career management. When you re-educate yourself in each of these areas, you'll turn critical professional weaknesses into strengths and develop the skills to get on track and thrive. 

Have a question for Martin about advancing or managing your career? From big issues to small, please feel free to e-mail your queries to YourCareerQA@shrm.org. We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know.

Packed with practical, honest, real-world guidance for successfully navigating common HR career challenges, Martin Yate's new book, The HR Career Guide: Great Answers to Tough Career Questions, is available at the SHRMStore.

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