1. Take control. When you put your job search in the hands of fate or someone else, it is easy to feel defeated, rejected or unmotivated. Well-meaning colleagues or friends may offer to float your resume along, but a better strategy is for you to offer to introduce yourself to the people they think can help you. You have more time and a greater sense of urgency. Make it easy on your friends to simply forward an email along on your behalf. Do the legwork by crafting an email with a compelling reason to talk or meet with you.
Another way you can take control is by going beyond submitting your resume to a job posting. Always make the effort to find someone inside the company who may be able to serve as a referral, advocate or informant. Ask everyone you know if they have any connections inside that company, look for connections using LinkedIn, or research the company and see if it will present at any events you could attend. By taking this step, you're less likely to feel like your resume has slipped into a black hole.
2. You can never have too many inside connections. When you identify a company you would like to work for, network with as many inside connections as possible. Even if you have a solid contact, having more than one certainly can't hurt. The more people you talk to about what it is like to work there, the better. Employees may have different perspectives depending on who they report to, their tenure with the company, or personal preferences.
3. Don't stop after the interview. You may have had a terrific interview and feel like it's a sure thing or maybe the interviewer has even said they can't wait for you to join the team. Don't stop looking elsewhere. There are many reasons that job may not come through: budget cuts, an internal candidate comes forward, or sometimes a last-minute change in the job's scope, for example. Keep applying and networking. Create opportunities for yourself so you have options, instead of feeling rejected if the offer doesn't come through.
4. Build an advisory team. When you search alone, it is hard to evaluate what you could be doing differently. Look for job seeker networking groups in your area or start your own group. Consider this your advisory team. These are people whom you can bounce ideas off of. There are two important rules for you to remember: first, no idea is a bad idea, so be appreciative of the feedback you receive. You may not follow the advice, but you shouldn't give excuses as to why it won't work or that you've already tried that approach. Second, turn your gripes into opportunities for solutions. You don't want to be seen as a complainer, so be sure to rephrase your frustrations into a question to get advice. Instead of saying "No one will hire me because I'm old," turn this into a question someone could help you solve. For example: "Can you think of things I can do to overcome potential age bias?"
5. Give back. It is easy to feel discouraged and let rejection go to your head. Do something that rejuvenates your spirit. Volunteer. There is always an organization that needs your help and will show their appreciation for the time and effort you give them. Volunteering will also put you in contact with other people, and this is often just the thing you need to get over your feeling of isolation.
Hannah Morgan is a speaker and author providing no-nonsense career advice; she guides job seekers and helps them navigate today's treacherous job search terrain. Hannah shares information about the latest trends, such as reputation management, social networking strategies, and other effective search techniques on her blog, Career Sherpa.