Job Search is Hard Work

Whether you’re an executive looking for his/her next senior position or a career newbie, job search is hard work. The specifics will undoubtedly differ in various respects, but the underlying theme is the same. You can’t get there from here without serious effort.

That’s true whether we have a decent job market or a lousy one (see my previous post on career management in a down economy for another slant on this). No one is likely to hand you your next job opportunity on a platter. You’ve probably heard the saying, “Work smarter, not harder.” I think it’s often a case of “work smarter and harder”! You need to use good sense about how to approach your job search, but you also need to invest a fair amount of energy into executing it.

Tough States for a Job Search

A recent article on 247WallSt.com titled “States Where It Is Hardest To Find Full-Time Work” talks about states where it’s hardest to find a job (see the list below), including the fact that unemployment rates aren’t the only story–underemployment has also been a big issue. In other words, the employment situation deteriorates even further when you add people who’ve taken jobs that are below their previous level (in less skilled fields and so on) to those who are unemployed.

If you live in one of the listed states, you’re probably already aware of this situation, but even if you live elsewhere, you might find that the situation isn’t appreciably better in your location. That means…you guessed it, you’ll need to work both smarter and harder to make your current or next job search successful.

Top 10 (or should that be bottom 10?) states where it’s hardest to find full-time work (ranked best to worst):

  • New Jersey
  • Arizona
  • Washington
  • Mississippi
  • Rhode Island
  • Illinois
  • Michigan
  • Oregon
  • California
  • Nevada

Balance Job Search Hard Work with Smart Work

Obviously, you don’t have more hours in your 24-hour day than anyone else, but more important, you’ll probably reach a point of diminishing returns before you max-out the hours. You might have more time if you’re unemployed than someone who’s currently putting in 60-80 hours a week at work, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have much to do with your days. Whichever category you fall into as a job seeker, you still need to invest both hard work and smart work in your job search.

Here are a few tips for doing that:

  1. Organize yourself and your job search plan. You have to know what needs to be done before you can figure out when and how to do it.
  2. Identify and maximize your resources. Be realistic about your available time and energy–and seek help from others who can fill in some of the gaps for you on occasion.
  3. Keep the underlying concept of balance in mind. Avoid stressing yourself out by tackling a load that only Superman or Wonderwoman could handle (flying faster than a speeding plane).
  4. Prioritize and postpone. When something can be done later without derailing your job search or destroying your personal life, postpone it.

Celebrate the Victories in Your Job Search

If you win even a small victory, such as getting a call about a job interview from a company you submitted your resume to, take a moment to celebrate that–and then begin preparing to ace the interview! When you combine smart work and hard work in your job search, you’ll find that celebrating the small steps along the way to your new job can increase your energy and success over the longer haul.

P.S. If you want a rueful chuckle or two related to the concept of “work smarter, not harder,” take a look at these “Dilbert” cartoons.

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