I’ve been job hunting for four months. Which kills me, because three months ago, I was told I had a job offer on the way. After a promising conversation with a VP at [a telecommunications company], I was told I was a perfect fit for a new role being created. I spent three months interviewing and waiting on budget approval. The day before I was supposed to receive my official offer, the company instituted a hiring freeze and my role came off the table.
Now here I am, four months unemployed, and completely down on my prospects. I didn’t apply for any other jobs while I was interviewing because I had been practically promised this role would come through, so I have zero other interviews lined up, and the gap on my resume now feels too big to overcome. Why did this go so wrong? And where do I go from here?
Back To Square One
Dear Back To Square One:
Every day I hear similar stories -- of job seekers waiting weeks and even months to hear back from prospective employers.
And I know how it can feel to look at your calendar and think you should be further along; that sense of frustration and even panic that comes from having ‘nothing’ to show for your months of job hunting.
To help you get through this (and yes, you will get through this), or any job search problem for that matter, I always have two responses.
The first is the unconditional-love response, because I think it’s what is warranted given where you are -- and it’s what we all need and deserve, especially when we’re struggling:
You have so much more than ‘nothing’ right now.
Too often, we fail to recognize the incremental steps that we must complete -- and celebrate -- in order to achieve a big, lofty goal.
If our only measure of progress and success is whether or not that big goal is achieved, we will surely doubt ourselves, suffer the pang of potential failure, and likely give up along the way.
So take a moment right now to recognize how far you’ve come, and the wins you already have under your belt:
You know what you want.
You are qualified enough to get it.
A VP of a company you care about got on the phone with you and thought you were fabulous.
You interviewed successfully.
You were chosen as the best candidate for the job!
You’ve proven yourself once already, and it’s only a matter of time before you do it again.
You have all the building blocks you need to land the job you want!
So rather than concluding you’re starting from square one, recognize that you are already far down the path to accomplishing that big, lofty goal. And keep moving from there.
Which brings me to my second response to your questions -- the ‘tough-love’ response -- which is just as important, especially when we’re struggling:
I’m sorry to tell you, but you made a beginner’s mistake.
And like most beginner mistakes, it landed you in some serious doo doo (which you must now correct for and learn from).
You got wind that your job search *could* be coming to a close, and jumped to put all your eggs in one basket -- putting yourself in a tremendously precarious position.
It’s understandable! Lots of job seekers fall into this trap. Because they get excited. Or because they genuinely believe this practically-promised position will come through. Or sometimes because they’re simply grateful for a reason to push pause on their job search discomfort.
But you’ve seen how this can play out.
Even if you do everything right, you can't control whether or not that offer comes through.
Nothing you do can stop a company from instituting a hiring freeze, or changing strategy, or making you an offer below your expected salary range, or choosing someone else.
Of course, if you pour your heart into landing an offer that doesn’t come through, it’s only normal to feel devastated -- but the devastation is even greater if no other opportunities are knocking at your door.
So don’t risk putting yourself in that position!
If you really want to land a job you love in the least amount of time, you need options.
You need multiple irons in your fire. And even if you’re far down the line with one or a few companies, you need to keep putting new irons in your job search fire, every week.
Here are just a few of the many reasons why:
Even if the offer comes through, you’ll have other offers on the table and you can negotiate them against each other (your “backup” can quickly become your top choice with the right terms).
If the offer stays stalled, you’ll have other offers to jumpstart the process (there’s nothing like an offer from a competitor to light a fire under a complacent would-be employer).
If the offer falls through, you’ll have other prospective employers chasing you down!
Plus, no matter what happens with the offer, you’ll continue building relationships with individuals and organizations you’ll want to work with in the future -- and who will start sending exciting opportunities your way in the meantime.
And on top of all this, you’ll reclaim some of your deserved power and confidence in this process -- by recognizing that you’re not a job seeker waiting on an offer, but rather a talented, qualified professional determining the right place to contribute your greatness.
The only way up from here is to keep moving forward. You’ve licked your wounds. Now it’s time to celebrate the progress you’ve made, and start putting new irons in the fire.
You’ll get there! I know it.
Have your own Job Search Love Letter to submit? Just send it straight to me at [email protected] I always respond -- what you're going through matters to me, and I'm here to help!