The other day I saw a post on LinkedIn from someone in my network with her job search details:
📧 133 Applications
📞 101 Interviews
😧 55 Rejections
😢 Lots and lots of not hearing back (even after an interview)
These numbers show a lot of work put in that led to the most important number:
1 Accepted Dream Job 🎉 💫
It’s no secret, but let’s just put this out there to be clear:
To get the dream job, you have to do the real work.
Work takes time, and it’s not easy.
There is no magic formula, but luckily we have some guidance to offer. According to Career Coach Liana Pistell, you can expect to take 6 months for every $100k of salary you earn (or previously earned) to land a new job. And that wait makes sense when you realize on average, 59 people apply for every open job. Which brings us to the patience required in job searching.
We live in a world of instant gratification and, as I’m fond of saying to my kids, waiting is not easy. It’s especially difficult when the stakes are high, such as if you aren’t sure how to make ends meet without your next paycheck or if you are in an untenable work situation and need to make an exit quickly. In the job search though, patience is key.
The first step in having patience is to identify what you control — and what you don’t.
If you focus on the things you can control you’ll have a better sense of accomplishment, which will help keep your momentum going. And by identifying the things you can’t control, hopefully you can find some grace in letting go of them.
Recognize the company’s hiring timeline may not be in line with yours
It’s also important to realistically consider time frames from the company’s side of the hiring process. Companies give themselves allotments of time to gather applications, time to review those applications and resumes, time for multiple rounds of interviews and multiple applicants to interview.
In an ideal interview loop, it can still take a minimum of eight weeks, from start to finish, to make a hire. The average time to hire is usually longer than those two months though. A preconceived notion of when you think you should land the job isn’t helpful and won’t serve you well. Better to focus your energy on your own efforts and endeavors (the things in your control) and to focus on them with perseverance.
Oftentimes the job search feels as though we are left to propel ourselves forward on grit, determination and willpower alone. I have a mantra I say to myself when I’m in the middle of a challenge, whether that is personal (having three babies or working on a Master’s degree), professional (I used it often during my time in the Army) or even something I’m doing for enjoyment (hiking the many beautiful mountains in Colorado.) It is straightforward and a little embarrassing but, I put myself into what I call my “mule mentality.” Stick with me here.
A mule is resilient, intelligent, reliable, and less sensitive than horses. They are highly valued workers that are well known in their stubbornness to continue in their chosen path and can cross rough terrain easier than almost any other pack animal. They are strong and steady. When I think of myself in my mule mentality it’s really the same as saying, “I will not give up because I am made to persevere in hard situations.” It is a boost of confidence I need when there might be a small voice inside me trying to convince me that I’m not cut out for this particular thing.
If you don’t have a mantra or a mindset that can give you a boost of confidence, you should find one. Feel free to use mine if you’d like. It’s worked for me for over two decades at this point so I can vouch for its effectiveness. 😊
Dedicate space and time for your job search
Beyond your mindset, to persevere you need to make space and time for the job search. Create a calendar or a schedule where you set aside time to work on your job search. Actual dedicated time for your professional pursuits is necessary.
Here are just a few things you should make time for:
Researching companies to determine if they are a good fit for you professionally
Networking (Don’t be afraid to talk to people and let the world know who you are. The more people you know the better the chances are of getting a break.)
Staying active in developing yourself. Take courses, volunteer locally, brush up on new technologies, etc.
And be sure to document everything you do as part of your search - which jobs you’ve applied for, which you’ve heard back from, dates and outcomes of any interviews, next steps, who to follow up with, where you heard about the role, and so on. It doesn’t have to be highly detailed, but a record will keep you both motivated and organized.
An added benefit? Focusing on all these activities rather than just waiting to hear back from your dream job helps keep you on track to the ultimate end goal - actually landing a job. If you immerse yourself in moving forward and continuing to find opportunities you won’t have as much energy to dwell on how long it takes to hear back or if you aren’t hearing back at all. And, in the meantime, you can acknowledge the work you are doing by rewarding your perseverance with positivity.
We know, we know. When you’re at home by yourself filling out countless online applications and sending them into the void it can be hard to stay positive. It is very tempting to focus on the negatives, especially when you consider how little feedback the job search process often includes.
You send off a perfect job application and it feels like it was shipped to a black hole. You know you are the exact right person to slay a role, but you get a form rejection email. All of this leaves us wondering, “what is it about me that hiring managers don’t like?” It’s easy to self-criticize and to imagine reasons why you didn’t get an interview or the job. But, this is a bad place to focus.
Acknowledge your efforts
Instead, if you are tracking your job-hunting activities, you can set mini-milestones to create rewards for. Find out a way to treat yourself after submitting a certain amount of applications or landing a certain number of interviews (even if it’s just one interview.) This will help you focus on the areas that you are succeeding and will help boost your confidence. Yes, a job offer itself is the most important result from the search, but breaking your efforts down helps stay the course and stay positive.
These steps represent progress after all. And the more quality work you do for each step (apply to interesting jobs, network and make meaningful connections, gain helpful feedback from an interviewer), the better your end opportunity will be.
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the truth of the matter is that the job search is nearly always going to feel like it's taking too long for us. Focus on action-oriented behaviors in your control to keep things moving forward (Perseverance). Because you know things in life worth having, such as your next job, won't materialize overnight (Patience). Keep in mind that you have to be relentlessly persistent in the face of repeated rejection (Positivity).
And then, perhaps at the end of 100+ interviews, you’ll see it. One dream job to call your own. We’ll be rooting for you the whole way. 💜