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What's the Definition of Job Search Insanity?
July 2011

Recently I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who has been searching for a job for about a year. She was frustrated with not having results. She was going to networking events, had updated her résumé, searched the job boards, worked with recruiters, applied to hundreds of jobs and sent out so many résumés she lost count. She was annoyed and frustrated and about to give up on her job search.

My mind went immediately to the Albert Einstein quote: "What's the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." We talked about how it might be time to shake up her job search.

Stay the Course
Job search is not an exact science. There are techniques that work for some that do not for others. Every position and industry is different and you should always be fine tuning your approach. The most dangerous thing you can do during a job search is giving up on it when things are not going your way. Use every plateau or disappointment as an opportunity to re-evaluate your job search strategy and try something new. When you shake up your job search and try new approaches, you will easily re-engage yourself.

Change the View
Back to my friend, she was job searching from home every day in her pajamas unless she had an interview or meeting to go to. We talked about how she might be more productive dressing the part and conducting her search from a place where she could network. It could be the local library, her university career center or a business center like Regus. Being out of the house every day has enabled her to more easily set up meetings with people and network. She spent a few weeks job searching from a business center. While there, she met a few business owners who rent space from their office. Those connections have helped network her into two of her target companies and she has had interviews at both.

Target Practice
Aim differently at the organizations on your target list. If you don't have a target list of companies of interest, create one immediately. Every person who is looking for a new job needs to have a list of 20-25 organizations of interest. As mentioned in Career Zone article "Company Research is Always in Fashion," researching each of those target companies is critical. Look at the best company lists to work for in your city or for your profession. Find out as much as you can about them and then set your sights on making connections in each of those organizations. If you already have a target list and are struggling, look at your networking approach.

Change Gears with Networking
So your networking is stuck in a low gear. You reached out to all of your past co-workers or everyone you are friends with on Facebook. You need to put your networking activities into overdrive. That does not mean going to every networking event available. Quantity does not trump quality. Take a look at the types of people you are networking with. Are you meeting senior people in your target organizations? Are you getting to know hiring managers? Figure out who the decision makers are, and figure out a way to network with them. Is the President/CEO of one of your target companies speaking at a local event or industry association event? Go to that event and make sure to talk to the CEO after his/her speech. Impress them with your knowledge of their organization thanks to all of your company research. Exchange business cards and follow up with them. Chances are they will get you in touch with someone on their team.

Be Creative
One of my favorite creative job search stories is that of a friend who kept trying to get into a fashion company with no success. She applied for many jobs and never got a call for an interview. One day she read a news article about the new head of Marketing for this organization and she had an idea. She bought a pair of heels from DSW and sent them to the new Marketing head with her résumé, cover letter and business card in the box. She included a card saying she was trying to get a "foot in the door" at the organization. That move landed her an interview. She followed up the interview with a marketing plan on one of their new products and within 2 months she was working for that company. That was 3 years ago.

Albert Einstein also said, "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." Even the slightest changes to your job search can lead to great successes. Don't go insane with the same job search approach, try something new and see what kind of success you can have.