How to Jump-Start a Stalled Job Search

If your job search isn’t going as planned, here are some tips to get it back on track.

March 17, 2011
from Robert Half Finance & Accounting

In today’s competitive employment market, the average job search can be quite lengthy. This isn’t surprising, given the cautious approach to hiring that many companies adopted during the downturn. While conditions are gradually improving, many job searches are still prolonged. If this is what you’re finding, it’s normal to feel like you’ve lost momentum or come to a standstill. If you suspect that your search has stalled, the following tips may help you shift into high gear.

Revamp Your Résumé

Take another look at how your résumé is laid out. Today, the traditional “career objective” statement is often replaced by an executive summary that succinctly highlights your most relevant, notable qualifications and accomplishments. This helps hiring managers see at a glance the most important information about you.

One problem more experienced candidates have is that they are often seen as overqualified. Job seekers with this issue can help reduce such an impression by focusing their résumés on the most recent positions they’ve held. If the jobs held 15 or 20 years ago no longer relate to current career goals anyway, list only the company name and job title.

Whatever your level of experience, try to spend the bulk of your résumé highlighting your current skills, talents and accomplishments, since these are the attributes that make you most marketable and valuable to an employer today. Wherever possible, try to quantify your achievements; for example, show how your efforts saved your previous employer money or improved efficiency.

When revising your résumé, it can be helpful to turn to an objective third-party, such as a trusted mentor or friend. After working intently on it for so many weeks, you may have become blind to the parts of your résumé that are weak, ineffective or poorly organized. A third-party brings a fresh eye to the task and can help you showcase your talents and experience properly.

Turbo-charge Your Networking Efforts

Networking remains one of the best ways to land a job. Increase your visibility in the accounting and finance field by participating more often in activities offered by professional associations such as AICPA. Another good way to network and meet new people is to join a job seekers’ support group. Talking with others who are going through long job searches is important not only to feel connected, but also to develop new ideas. Most major cities have career resource centers that host networking meetings for job seekers. It’s often surprising how willing people are to assist, whether they offer leads on firms that are hiring or simply listen.

Don’t forget to tap into online social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. Companies and staffing services post jobs on Twitter and professionals often pass along leads among themselves. You can also use Twitter to boost your professional image by tweeting about news and trends related to the profession.
If you’re already part of these networks, take it to the next level. For example, join a focused professional group such as LinkedIn and start some discussions that will connect you to other people in the field, including recruiters. You can also take advantage of LinkedIn’s job listings and Company tabs to find vacancies and research employers you’re targeting.

Whether networking online or in person, be strategic. Spend the majority of your time cultivating contacts who could introduce you to hiring managers or other key employees at the companies you’re considering.

Seek Professional Guidance

A career counselor or professional recruiter can truly be a job seeker’s best friend. They can recommend next steps, help you better target your search or direct you to job leads you may not have heard about. In addition, a recruiter can help you find temporary positions, so that you have an income while you continue to seek permanent employment.

Looking for a job requires perseverance, stamina and confidence. The longer the search takes, the easier it is to become discouraged. But rather than thinking, “I can’t find a job,” view yourself as not having found a job “yet.” No, this isn’t a magic solution, but it will allow you to shift your attention from the positions you didn’t get, to the job opportunities that await you.

Founded in 1948, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, a division of Robert Half International, is one of the world’s first and largest specialized financial recruitment services. The company has more than 360 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at www.roberthalf.com.