Your Job Search: Hurry Up and Wait?

So, you’ve developed a great resume, you’re finding and applying for “good fit” positions online, and you are networking. You’ve connected with some recruiters that specialize in your area of expertise. Your LinkedIn profile is 100% complete. So, why are you not receiving multiple responses? What is going on? The last time you looked for a new position, things may have developed rather quickly and did not take much effort.  Now you are exerting more effort and it doesn’t seem to be paying off. It’s easy to take this personally and begin to worry that no one will ever hire you.

The good news is this is not about you and anything you’re doing wrong. You are experiencing a common phenomenon in this job market that I call the “hurry up and wait” phase. About 85% of candidates experience an unexpectedly extended period of time between applying or networking for a position and actually hearing back from someone.  This might last several weeks to a month or more.  Even those who have been interviewed and told they will hear something back in a week or so begin to despair when their wait stretches out for weeks.

The culprit is this particular job market. It is very different even from that of just a year ago. True, there are more positions to apply for than there were, but the competition for those positions is still very fierce. It is a buyer’s market, and employers and recruiters are busier than ever screening resumes and narrowing down the field to a short list of candidates. Many hiring managers are doing the work of their own positions and, at the same time, the ones for which they are hiring. Employers are being very cautious about hiring. They are taking their time to search and interview carefully so that they hire the perfect candidate.

Employers do need to hire, and many of them need to do it quickly, but it can be difficult and time consuming to coordinate a group of interviewers to be in one place at one time.  Once they have finished interviewing, it is just as difficult to get everyone’s feedback and a consensus around whom to bring in for a second interview and who should receive the offer. Employers are screening more carefully, sometimes requiring applicants to take assessments or skills tests before an interview. Recruiters are inundated with hundreds of resumes from job seekers, and will not spend their time working with someone unless he or she is the best match available for the position.

You have an advantage that will set you apart from other candidates competing in this market.  You have access to cutting edge information and resources that most other job seekers do not. Taking advantage of the best practices available to you, along with being persistent, networking, and following up, will be the keys to your success in this new job market. These efforts will differentiate you from the competition and raise you to the top of the interview list. Patience is the key, so hurry up…but wait!

Think of yourself as a gardener. You have put in all the effort it takes to till the soil by assessing your strengths and developing a great resume, as well as 30- and 90-second commercials, cover letters, a network of contacts, and a strong LinkedIn profile. You have planted the seeds by applying online, networking for information and referrals, working with recruiters, following up on networking leads, and finding contacts.

Even so, you will probably experience an unexpected time lag between all of these efforts and harvesting the final fruits of your planting.  This hurry up and wait period is best viewed as just another step in the process. Understanding employers’ and recruiters’ circumstances when you are waiting can help you develop realistic expectations and tailor your professional and emotional responses.

Use this period to stay engaged in the process. Continue to apply and network in order to keep your pipeline full. It’s possible that you’ll eventually find yourself in the enviable position of having more than one offer to choose from. This period actually gives you the opportunity to fully explore the market and choose the opportunity that represents the very best fit for your next career move.

So yes, hurry up, but also wait and remain engaged in the process. You will work harder to find your next position, but you will be much more likely to find the right position – the one that truly fulfills you and gives you the opportunity to use your strengths where they will be needed and appreciated.  The harvest is worth your time.

By: Libby MacDuffee