Maintaining Job-Search Momentum
Maintaining Job-Search Momentum

When do you stop your job search?

“Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.” – Gever Tulley

In the job search, making assumptions can be a dangerous thing.

Making assumptions, for instance, about what a prospective employer should be looking for, instead of researching its actual needs, can lead you to create a resume that highlights all the wrong things.

Choosing what companies you apply to, based on your assumptions about them, can lead to a lot of misdirected effort. And if you head into an interview assuming that your sense of humor will be something to showcase, that interview may well not go as planned. Whether humor falls flat or has everyone in stitches is one of the universe’s least predictable phenomena.

Qualifications Match But Dreams are Elusive

One dangerous assumption is unique in that it tends to arise when things seem to be going very, very well. You’ve done the research and found an opening that sounds like your dream job. Your qualifications seem to match everything the company is looking for in every particular. You have the right education, the perfect history and the optimal qualifications. You are an absolute shoe-in for the absolutely perfect job. The company is bound to see exactly what you see. The interview ahead, which seems to be in the works, is more of a formality than a hurdle.

And you make what seems to be an eminently reasonable assumption: Given the neatness of the fit between applicant and opening, the job will be yours. You can take a deep breath, scaling back your efforts in the search. After all, the search has been a lot of work all by itself, and it’s been a stressful experience that you’d like to put behind you. Enough of that! You’ve found the job that has your name on it.

Don’t Give In and Don’t Stop

But the reality is that putting the search on hold is a mistake, especially now. The hiring process may have a long way to go, weeks and weeks of whatever the company is doing behind closed doors while you bide your time. And you stand to lose those weeks and weeks of potential progress in your search by putting everything on hold. Who’s to say that there weren’t some awfully good opportunities that would have revealed themselves while you waited to hear?

Find Positivity and Persistence

If, in the end, you weren’t hired, you’ve got a recipe for the kind of disappointment that can rob you of all the momentum you’ve worked hard to maintain. That’s doubly true if this job was your dream job and you thought you were the dream candidate. All signs pointed to “Yes.” The answer was “No.” That sequence of events can make it especially hard to dust yourself off and get back to business with any enthusiasm.

In other words, discontinuing the search is a mistake unless and until you have an acceptable offer in hand.

That’s the bottom line, and it’s very much the bottom line even at the very end of the process. When you’ve found your dream job and you seem to be the dream candidate, when everything has fallen into place as if fate itself had an offer on its agenda, and when you’ve reached the end of the process and had some absolutely sterling interviews…even then, don’t call off the search.

The notion that appearances can be deceiving has broad application. And the idea that you can shut things down too soon applies well beyond the job search.

Lawyers know the lesson well: The case seems strong. Your day in court arrives. The judge couldn’t be nicer. You know you’ve won this case.

But the decision goes against you in the end. Sadly, a little more experience might have alerted you to that possibility. It seems that a judge is more likely to pick apart the arguments of the side that she’s inclined to favor, just to make sure that she hasn’t missed any fatal flaws. The losing side is spared the third degree, but to no avail. You’d made assumptions that didn’t come to pass, and you missed an opportunity as a result.

That’s exactly what can happen in the job search when assumptions and expectations, and a fair bit of emotion, take over. When the dream job that seemed so close doesn’t materialize, getting back to the search can be truly daunting. It’s always better to keep up the search until that written offer arrives. That approach gives you your very best chance in the market. It keeps your options alive so that opportunities can still appear, including the ones most likely to lead to that dream offer – if not now, then in the days and weeks ahead. Pulling the job-search plug too soon can make it awfully hard to plug back in.

There can be a lot of reasons we don’t get the callback we expect. Instead of seeing it as a failure, it’s better to learn from any possible mistakes, grow, and move on. Don’t obsess over rejections, and don’t harass the interviewer for answers. At the end of the day, the job isn’t yours until they say it’s yours.

Staying aggressive and treating your job search as a full-time job will maximize your chances of getting the right job for you. Keep researching, keep networking, keep looking, and keep busy.

Unfortunately, even if it seems like the application and interview process went well, it can take weeks for follow-up interviews to be completed and for human resources to approve your hire. Many things can go wrong during this time, and even the most qualified applications may not ultimately get hired. If you have stopped the job search during this time, you can end up feeling even more discouraged.

Even if you are sure that you are going to be hired, never stop job searching until you have signed the offer papers from your new employer. Continue researching new jobs and opportunities, networking, sending out resumes and scheduling interviews in order to get hired.

If you need help getting the job search started, or keeping it going, I can be both the coach and cheerleader you need.