4 Job Search Excuses That Just Don't Cut It

Frustrated Caucasian woman using laptop
By Vicki Salemi

If you're looking for a job and feeling like it's taking a while, you may be right. That's because a job search won't happen overnight.

While a new job won't simply land in your lap a week (or even a month) from today, your efforts will certainly pay off in the end. You'll need to stick to the course, be persistent and follow through to realize that.

When I worked in recruiting and advised hiring managers who wanted to hire candidates extremely quickly, I repeatedly explained timing and expectations regarding the job posting, interview process and background check – all of which took a minimum of six to eight weeks in a perfect world.

The process takes time, so don't give up on your job search during this time period. In reality, the search is probably successful and progress is being made. It may feel challenging to recognize strides when they're muddled between thoughts and beliefs that are not beneficial. Here are several excuses and ways to eliminate to eliminate them once and for all:
1. "It's taking too long." Years ago when I moved internally from international HR into recruiting, it took nearly two months for the interview process to occur, decisions to be made and for my transfer date to be confirmed. In hindsight, that's a pretty fast turnaround, but that didn't seem like that case as it was unfolding in real time.

New mantra: "Anything worth having is worth waiting for." We're used to being immersed in an instant gratification society. Want takeout? Within minutes, you can have a meal delivered to your door. Need a car service? There's an app for that, too. Texting a friend making dinner plans? Instant messages galore.

But job searching is not instant. Leverage your insatiable appetite for a new job as fuel to continue pursuing meaningful networking rather than allowing that same hunger to stifle and distract you. Create an Excel spreadsheet, take notes in your smartphone or do whatever you need to do to stay organized and remain focused. Keep your eye on the prize.

Making life changes – whether it's finding a new job, buying a house or researching rescue shelters to get a new dog – will take time, energy and effort. Accept that as part of the process, and focus on what you do have control over – your actions and positive beliefs.

2. "But I haven't interviewed in years. My skills are rusty." Sure, this may be true, but there is no time like the present to eliminate this alienating thought, which serves as a block to either not interview at all or not ace an interview once one has been scheduled.

New mantra: "I'm an excellent conversationalist and enjoy meeting new people." You've most likely had meaningful conversations about your career, whether it was during a year-end performance review with your boss or a conversation with your mentor, mentee or staff.

As for your interview skills, they may feel a little rusty, but you may be pretty skilled at making small talk, highlighting your strengths and asking intuitive questions. That sounds a lot like a job interview, doesn't it? The only way to remedy the situation (in addition to owning the new mantra) is to start interviewing.

3. "I don't even have a résumé. I can't start looking for a new job without one." Even if you don't have a current résumé, you can always work on one. Begin today!

This is similar to working out: You may feel out of shape, and yet the only way to get fit is to simply start moving. One situp leads to two and then three, and the same applies to your résumé, so get moving.

And just because you don't have a résumé readily available doesn't mean you shouldn't network. When I worked in corporate recruiting, sometimes résumés got submitted after the fact. As in: "Congratulations, you're hired – and, by the way, we need you to submit your résumé so we'll have it on file and can generate an offer letter from the system."

Yes, you'll need a résumé for the job-search process, but don't let not having one prevent you from having meaningful networking conversations, which can lead to interviews and possible job offers.

New mantra: "My résumé is my passport – but instead of a new destination, it's leading me to a new job." Think of your résumé as your one-way ticket to a new job.

Instead of dreading it, embrace it as your port of entry. Candidates have told me once they actually sat down to revise their old one, the process didn't take as long as they originally anticipated. Working on their résumé took less time then the amount of time spent procrastinating.

Remember that your résumé is a work in progress. You can tweak responsibilities and revise the document as you go along. After you land a new job, incorporate facets from the job description into your résumé.

4. "My résumé is just going to get submitted into a black hole online, so I'm not going to bother." That's like forfeiting a ballgame by not even showing up. You owe it to yourself to show up. The applicant tracking system (better known as the ATS), will get inundated with résumés pegged to each specific job opening, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't apply.

While it does help to have a referral so your résumé is flagged differently in the system for recruiters to easily spot, don't give up. Definitely apply.

New mantra: "My efforts are paying off." One of the most important things to remember about your job search is progress. Many job seekers tend to only focus on one tangible aspect: whether or not they landed a new job. In reality, many other intangible strides are taking place, such as conversations, applications, interviews, open doors and movement closer to your goal.

Although you may not have landed a new job just yet, keep the faith and, more importantly, keep the focus.
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