What to Do When Job Searching Takes Longer Than Expected

Even the most talented, educated and experienced job seekers have a difficult time finding a job in today’s economy.

Most people hope the transition between jobs or finding a job after college graduation lasts only a few weeks, the reality is that many job seekers spend months, or even a year, trying to secure work.

This delay can wreak havoc on a job seeker’s confidence, motivation and sense of pride—all of which are characteristics that need to stay in tact in order to build endurance as you look for work and achieve success in a tight job market.

Jean Baur, author of the  book Eliminated! Now What: Finding Your Way from Job-Loss Crisis to Career Resilience, says one of the best things you can do when you begin to feel stuck in your search is to evaluate what methods are working and which aren’t productive and then adjust your strategy.

You also need to take care of yourself, both mentally and physically.

“You can better cope with the feelings associated with a long-term career transition if you’re not worn out and take care of yourself through therapy, physical exercise and even volunteering. A new project or hobby can be another way to go,” she suggests.

“The real issue here is self-care—something most of us aren’t very good at. Job searching is hard work, so it must be sustained with good self-care. The obstacle that many people have to get over to do this is a false sense that this is wrong—that they’re selfish if they take care of themselves. Job seekers need to realize that balancing the demands of finding a new job with smart ways of caring for themselves will make them more successful.”

In Eliminated! Now What? Baur offers these additional do’s and don’ts for persevering through a long transition:


  1. Create contingency plans so that if your search goes on longer than expected, you know what you’ll do and how to take care of yourself financially.
  2. Practice diligent self-care during this demanding process. Find the things that restore you so that your job search doesn’t sap all of your energy and confidence.
  3. Work hard on your search but don’t let it eclipse your whole life. Positive results come from short breaks and rewards. Continue to live a full life with the support of friends and family. Don’t stop living just because you’re facing a difficult moment in your life.
  4. Research opportunities for training, whether in your existing area of expertise or something new. Adding new skills to your resume will broaden the potential opportunities and give you something to do that offers immediate results.
  5. Use volunteering as a way to expand your network. This effort keeps you connected to others and ensures you’re doing something productive besides looking for work.


  1. Become a job search machine. You’ll wear yourself out and in doing so won’t be presenting your best self to others.
  2. Assume you know how and when you’ll discover your next opportunity. Be open to the process and be flexible. Your next opportunity might not come in the package you expect it. Be willing to adjust your sails if new doors open.
  3. Get stuck. If one method isn’t working, try another. Take a hard look at yourself and ask whether you should alter your approach to fit the job market. Be meticulous about details — your outer appearance, even your personality, could be the source of your difficulties. Be honest with yourself and work on those details that could make or break your job search.
  4. Tell the people who know you are looking for work that there are “no jobs” out there. For one, this is absolutely not true. Secondly, letting negative thoughts such as this fester will only derail your progress.
  5. Be unwilling to compromise. Sometimes you might have to take a small step back in order to move forward.

Have you you rebound from a work layoff and how are you weathering through a tough job market?

About the Author of Eliminated! Now What?

Jean Baur is a Senior Consultant with Lee Hecht Harrison, a leading outplacement firm, and has also worked extensively as a writer, coach and corporate trainer. She partners with clients of all functions and levels to help them identify and leverage their strengths, develop structure for the search process, create effective implementation plans and identify measurable success factors. Baur’s trademark is her energy and creativity. She likes nothing more than helping job seekers realize their full potential. To schedule an interview with her, contact Selena Dehne.

** This article was provided by JIST Publishing, America’s Career Publisher. JIST, a division of EMC/Paradigm Publishing, is the leading publisher of job search, career and occupational information.