What to Do When You Can’t Find a Job: 12 Tips

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This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.

You’ve tried. Really, you have. You feel like you’ve been giving it your all. But despite your best efforts, for some reason you can’t find a job.

It’s frustrating and perhaps even soul-crushing, but don’t despair. You need to do your best to maintain hope and stay motivated: It’s the best way to make progress!

Here are several tips on what to do when you can’t find a job.

1. Take a break

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We’re not talking about ditching your job search entirely, or taking a months-long break. No, what we mean is that you’ve been trying to find a job for so long that at this point you’re probably burned out from the entire ordeal.

“It’s OK to take some time off from your job search once in a while,” says Toni Frana, one of FlexJobs’ expert career coaches. “Allow yourself a day or a few days off and spend that time doing something that energizes you and makes you happy, and reflect on what’s going well in your search. Afterwards, you’ll find you’ll be able to get back to your job search with a renewed sense of energy and purpose.”

2. Go where the jobs are

African American man in video call.
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Some people will move to a different city, state or country in order to find a job in their field. But if you’re looking for a remote job, you don’t have to do that!

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look specifically where the jobs are, though. “Do a bit of research on which industries and type of jobs are hiring for remote workers to help speed along your search,” suggests Frana.

3. Spruce up your online presence

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Studies have shown that the majority of hiring managers will look at a person’s online presence even before reaching out to them for a job interview. How do your social media profiles look?

Are they a mishmash of (public) family photos and some political point-of-view posts? One of the most important aspects of your job search is to ensure that your online presence is up to date and professional.

Take the time to clean out your profiles, or create some new ones that show you in a more professional light, and keep them current so potential bosses can see that you’re active on social media for all the right reasons.

4. Get skilled or schooled — or both

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Truth be told, you’ve likely been applying for some jobs that you weren’t exactly qualified for. But if you think that you can slip past a potential employer — or the applicant tracking system, which is designed to weed out unqualified candidates — think again.

Employers won’t hire someone who doesn’t have the majority of the skills, education or job experience necessary for the position. So, if you can’t find a job because you need to boost your skill set, consider going back to school or finding online resources to gain the skills you need.

5. Change your mindset

Man working on laptop
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It’s easy to feel defeated if you’ve been job searching for a long time, and your result has been a big “nada.” There might be a chance that you’re no longer putting all your best effort into each and every job application you submit.

You might be thinking, “I’m not going to get the job anyway, so why bother writing a new cover letter for the position?” With that attitude, you’re right, you definitely won’t get the position. Try to get excited, at least a little, for each job you apply for.

“Just like taking a break from your job search is important, so is having the right mindset. It is hard to be a job seeker, applying for many jobs and possibly not hearing back from employers,” says Frana.

“Work to focus on the progress you are making with each application — honing your search tactics, getting efficient with your application process and understanding what keywords to use are all important tools to use as you go through your search. Celebrate those small steps!” Frana adds.

6. Try temping

Man working from home
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If your bills are mounting, it may be time to take on a temporary gig. Temping is an excellent way to get your foot in the door at a company, learn some new resume skills and — most importantly — get paid.

And you never know. Some temps, even those who are seasonal, are often offered permanent positions once their original gig ends.

7. Network

Professional networking on a laptop
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It’s the bane of almost every job seeker’s existence. Networking can feel schmoozy and phony at best, and it can be hard to sell yourself to each person you meet at a networking event.

But networking still stands to be one of the best ways to meet new people and generate new leads. If you’re not so much for the glad-handing aspect of networking, there are many online networking events you can do from the comfort of your home office that can yield the same great results.

8. Review your resume

Examining resume
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You’ve looked at your resume so many times you can recite it verbatim. But if you can’t find a job, focusing too intensely on your resume might be the problem. When you’ve read (and reread) your resume so often, there’s a much greater tendency to miss some major mistakes.

“It’s always a great idea to have someone else review your resume before you submit it,” offers Frana. “A spouse, family member, friend or resume review expert can look at your document with a fresh set of eyes and let you know if there are any glaring mistakes to correct before applying for a job.”

Frana adds: “If that’s not an option, try changing the font, font size and font color and then rereading your resume so it looks different to you. Then, when you are satisfied, change it back to the right font before applying.”

9. Consider other industries

Thoughtful woman
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It might not be exactly what you want, but if you’ve tried and tried to find a job and can’t pinpoint one specific thing, it might be time to look at other jobs in various fields. Don’t consider it a failure, though.

You might discover you really enjoy a new career field much more than you thought you would, and you’ll be surprised how many of your skills are probably transferable from one field to another. And remember, having a career change can prove to be a very exciting time in your professional life.

10. Look for other types of flexible work arrangements

Young man working remotely on a laptop
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You might have your heart set on working from home, but that might not be in the cards for now. There are many types of jobs under the big banner of work flexibility.

Expand your search to part-time jobs, freelance or contract gigs, flexible schedules, alternative schedules, or any combination of those. Being open to these other types of flexibility can lead you to job openings you may not have found if you were only searching for full-time remote jobs.

11. Practice your interviewing skills

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Interviews can trip up even the most polished job seeker. That’s why you should try to upgrade your interviewing skills. You can practice with friends, family or even fellow job seekers who might be able to offer tips on what you’re doing right and where you might need some improvement.

If you have a career mentor or a former boss who you’re friendly with, you should ask if they can do a mock interview with you, too. If not, you may want to consider online career coaching as an option to get constructive and actionable feedback. When the time comes for you to interview, you’ll likely be better prepared.

12. Pinpoint the problem

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It’s been a struggle for you to find a job. But why? What part of the job search process is giving you the most trouble? Is it that you can’t find jobs that you want to apply to? Or do you not hear back from employers after submitting your application?

Are you getting to the interview stage and then getting passed over for positions? Understanding why you can’t find a job goes a great way toward getting one!

For example, if you’re lamenting the lack of quality jobs in your industry, it might be that you’re looking in the wrong places. Big-box job search sites offer lots of positions, but probably the vast majority don’t apply to you, your qualifications or your flexible work needs. If you’re looking for a work-from-home job, you should use a niche site that focuses on those, like FlexJobs.

If you’re not getting invited to interview, consider if your application is the best it can be. Make sure that your resume has a modern format and contains relevant work experience to the job you’re applying to.

What about your cover letter? Is it generic, or edited for each position? Take the time to customize your application, and you should see results right away.

If you’re getting to interview with hiring managers or employers, but not landing the job, are your interviewing skills rusty? Or are you unsure of how to sell yourself during an interview? Practice can help you work out the kinks so that you can get hired for the job that you want.

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