"At first I had insisted I would only work at a company with a mission I believed in," writes author Robin Sloan in his novel "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore." "Then I thought maybe it would be fine as long as I was learning something new. After that I decided it just couldn't be evil."
As Sloan describes, the job search has the tendency to change your perspective for the worst; at first you're dead set on the dream job, but upon realizing the obstacles standing in your way, the concessions start flowing.
However, understanding and preparing for the obstacles that result in job search frustration is an important first step in maintaining a positive attitude, despite the challenges you'll likely face. Let's take a closer look.
1. Finding the right jobs. While you already know to hit the standard job boards when getting the search started, there are plenty of stories about job seekers securing offers through totally non-traditional strategies. Simultaneously, career experts readily suggest lots of open positions are never publicly advertised by the hiring firm. So how is the everyday job seeker to identify all the great opportunities for which they're qualified and interested when those opportunities are so widely distributed?
Imagine you're trying to sell a new record today. You can't just put up a sign in music stores and expect to reach all the listeners interested. Instead, you need to facilitate awareness through a more diversified strategy that includes media placements, touring and social engagement. The key to reaching all the hiring managers who may be interested in your candidacy is to take a similarly layered approach and not pigeonhole the search to a single source.
Scour LinkedIn, CareerBuilder and Indeed for new opportunities, but, also use services like TweetDeck to create segmented lists of social feeds sharing relevant opportunities and stay alert for appealing postings. At the same time, build trusted relationships with recruiters and network with university alumni who can provide inroads to a new job that's not on the boards. None of these strategies are a silver bullet, but employing a diverse buffet of options widens the net of relevant and discoverable leads you'll encounter.
2. Submitting a suitable volume of applications. When looking for new work, you'll want to cover your bases by applying to many different positions (the quantity is determined by the urgency of your search). However, even though you've now identified how to find the right jobs, submitting enough applications to yield qualified interest isn't so easy in a risk averse business world.
In a job market that hosts tons of applications for roles that offer little training, more hiring firms create an initial layer of screening that goes well beyond the standard résumé and cover letter.
For example, word of mouth marketing firm Likeable Media asks applicants for content strategy roles to not only submit standard materials but also create an acrostic poem with their first name, describe the meme they best identify with and explain what makes them unique in 150 characters or less.
While this flavor of application can help candidates show their personality, it can be frustrating to invest the time necessary to complete it without even the promise of an application receipt.
To effectively cope, try to group opportunities by similarity and duration to complete so your application sessions are as efficient as possible. With this kind of pre-planning and an easily customizable résumé and cover letter, you can quickly fire off five to 10 applications for roles with basic application criteria while you wait until your next session to tackle one to two that require longer essays. Just be sure the applications that will take more time to complete are really in your wheelhouse because your time is too valuable to waste.
3. Dealing with uncertainty and rejection. Uncertainty and rejection are rampant in the job search … failing to understand if you're not getting called back. Wondering whether it is because your application was reviewed and denied or because it slipped through the cracks. Confusion over how you need to improve and recruiters who disappear after (what you thought was) a good interview.
To persevere through these common frustrations, first consider all the red tape stalling the hiring firm's internal processes, and thus, their ability to get back to you: turnover in the human resources department, an urgent need that turns out not to be so urgent or a competing candidate already deep in process.
At the same time, a study from Talent Function Group LLC found applicant tracking systems auto-reject 75 percent of applicants for digital postings, while a study by TheLadders found recruiters spend about six seconds evaluating those applications you worked so hard on, quickly dismissing those candidates who don't fit the exact mold they're looking to fill.
With all these moving parts obstructing entry to the hiring firm's pipeline, take solace in the fact that uncertainty and rejection are simply a new normal in the job market and shouldn't leave job seekers down on themselves. After all, it's not that they're not into you … it's that they're not into almost everybody.
Bottom line: While not always the case, anyone looking for that great new job is likely to get knocked down a few times. But, with continuous iteration, a lot of patience and some thick skin, you can surmount these frustrations and persevere until the light at the end of the tunnel emerges.
Ben Weiss is the digital marketing strategist for Infusive Solutions – an NYC-based IT staffing firm in the Microsoft Partner Network that specializes in the placement of .NET, SharePoint and SQL Server developers as well as Windows Systems Engineers, DBAs and help desk support professionals in verticals such as legal, finance, fashion and media. Connect with him on Twitter: @InfusiveInc or at Facebook.com/InfusiveInc.