How to Avoid the Job Search Rut

I believe that everyone has their own “nightmare career” – a job that would turn their life into a living hell. Personally, I think mine would be a DJ at a classic rock radio station. Classic rock DJs have access to three or more decades of some of the best music ever made but what do they play? A mind-numbingly boring selection of seven or eight bands, one or two songs from each, repeated over…and over…and over…and over. Never any variety, even from bands that made several albums’ worth of great material. For some reason, their program directors think that listeners want to hear the same songs repeated ad infinitum. So they’re forced to sit in a studio, day after day, listening to the same songs until it drives them insane.

I feel as though some job seekers fall into this same pattern, especially those who are in the early stages of their career. When I was a job seeker, I tended to look for jobs in the same places over and over, even after months of dismal results, simply because those were the avenues I was familiar and comfortable with. It’s comparable to searching for something you lost in a place you know you didn’t lose it, simply because the light is better there. It’s easy to lose focus on the big picture, instead opting to continue with the same routine as you’ve done it all along (are you hearing me, classic rock DJs?). Let’s explore some ways of not falling into a job search rut:

Job Boards:

Job boards are usually a job seeker’s first stop. Depending on your industry, general job sites like CareerBuilder or Monster can be great resources for starting your search, posting your resume and getting an idea of the current demand in your field. But this should only be the first step. The next should be to search out niche job boards in your industry. It’s rare you’ll find a career field that doesn’t have at least one dedicated industry website that both job seekers and employers can use to apply to or post open positions in the field. If you’re an industry veteran, you’re probably well-acquainted with these sites. If you’re a first-time job seeker, run a few searches for niche job boards in your targeted field and apply for any entry-level positions that look promising. Don’t forget to set up job alerts on these sites so that you’ll be notified when a new job is posted that fits your qualifications.

Social Media:

Hopefully your LinkedIn profile is up to date and you are active on Twitter. A word of advanced warning – you shouldn’t wait until you’re looking for a job to become active on social media. The more preliminary work you do in building your network and connecting with people in your industry, the better off you’ll be when your job search is underway.

LinkedIn has an extensive list of job postings, and like the job boards, is a good starting point. But when looking for work, don’t overlook LinkedIn groups. Joining a number of groups related to your field of expertise will automatically allow you to contact and converse with hundreds, if not thousands, of professionals who are gainfully employed in the field you are looking to enter. Once you have joined a few groups, make yourself known – post content, ask questions. Let others know you are looking for a job, and welcome any input they have on getting your foot in the door.

If you are on Twitter, you may be tweeting that you’re looking for a job. But are you truly making an effort to connect with and engage those who can help you? Take the time to run a search using keywords unique to your industry, and follow people with those words in their bio. Then tweet them, direct message them, let them know you are job hunting. As with any site, the more experts in your field you connect with, the more readily available advice and referrals will be on entering the field. Social media has expanded our ability to connect with industry professionals exponentially – take advantage of it!

READ MORE: How to Kick Off Your Twitter Job Search

Network Everywhere:

Even if you’re spending most of your day behind a computer sending out resumes, it’s just as important to get out of the house and stay active – and while you’re at it, make an effort to meet people! Everybody has a story about someone they know who got the job opportunity of a lifetime through someone they sat next to on a plane or met in line at the grocery store. A personal friend of mine launched a successful music career by meeting a famous band’s manager in a bar. Until you’re employed, you’re a salesman. Your product is yourself, and always be closing!

Just like a successful stock portfolio, a successful job search is based on diversification. Put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to explore unchartered territory in your job search, but don’t ignore traditional job search methods in hopes of stumbling upon a lucky break. You never know from which direction an opportunity will arise, so always keep your ear to the ground…and if it’s playing “Free Bird” or “Stairway to Heaven,” keep moving.

By John Feldmann

John Feldmann is a Senior Communications Specialist for Insperity in Houston, TX. With over a decade of marketing and employment branding experience in the recruiting and human resources industries, John specializes in employment- and HR-related content development for a variety of media types in order to communicate Insperity's brand to both business professionals and job seekers. Follow John on X @John_Feldmann.