Q: I read every job search advice blog I lay my eyes on, and I know the rules backward and forward: I’ve learned everything under the sun about professional cover letters, sending thank you notes, and making eye contact during interviews. At this point I could practically teach a course. But I still don’t have a job. Am I missing something?
A: If you’re staying open to advice and taking expert recommendations to heart, you’re on the right track. But remember: These rules are meant for broad, general audiences. Your situation may not be identical to everyone else’s. While you work hard on toeing the line, remember that some rules are meant to be broken. The next time you do something “right”, stop and think. Is this right for your specific situation, your targeted employer, your own goals, and your own personality?
Q: I’m fifty-nine and I’ve been on the job market for eight months. I’ve had five interviews and applied to more than a hundred positions all over the country. Please tell me I still have hope.
A: You do have hope, but you’ll also have to face some hard facts, including the possibility that your age may be working against you as you try to gain employer trust. So build that trust in ways that circumvent age-bias related to technology and flexibility. If you aren’t interested in rattling on about the wonders of social media during your interviews, that’s fine, but you’ll have to draw focus to your other skill sets, including your managerial abilities, your problem solving skills, your experience, and your work ethic.
Q: I’m looking for work in a specialized area, and I don’t come across appropriate job postings very often. I’ve only found five postings in the past month, and I’ve applied for them all. But they haven’t led anywhere. What now?
A: You may be looking in the wrong places. If national job boards aren’t helping you, try reaching out to industry organizations and trade groups in your field. Start by visiting their websites. Then send targeted emails to specific people in these organizations and ask them personally for leads and advice.
Q: I graduated in 2012 at the age of 22 with a mountain of debt, and I assumed that with a well-respected alma mater like mine, I’d have no trouble impressing employers. At this point, I’m not just frustrated with the job search—I’m also bitter about my college decision. I feel like I was a victim of an epic scam. How can I find a way to put this toxic anger behind me and move on before it ruins what’s left of my life?
A: You’re young, and “what’s left of your life” is longer than you’re able to appreciate right now. Your situation is not ideal, and your circumstances probably don’t look the way you imagined they would on the threshold of your mid 20s. But you’re not alone. And you will survive this rough patch. Even if the job you hold a year from now doesn’t look like the one you once had in mind, you will be working. And if you work hard every day to treat others and yourself with dignity, there’s no doubt that you will be a respected, legitimate, and productive member of society.
Don’t worry about the mountain of debt right now. And don’t even worry about the immediate need to find a job. Both of these things will work themselves out with some time and patience.
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