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I’ve Applied to Every Job in My Field — Now What?

Female business professional smiling during a meeting

You’ve done it! You’ve sent out applications for every possible job opportunity in your area related to your work experience. There’s only one problem: You’re still not employed. Wondering what to do next?

Recruiting professionals at Aerotek offer this advice:

Seek low-cost education opportunities

If you feel like your ideal job is just out of reach, explore free resources and certifications to give you a leg up over other candidates. Make sure you’re not missing out on any resources already at your disposal, such as guidance from career centers at your alma mater. Just enrolling in continuing education and skills training shows potential employers that you’re proactive and interested in learning — a quality desired by many managers.

As for your basic competencies, “I always tell people who are looking to make sure they keep their skills with the most widely used software as sharp as possible,” says Matt Wiehe, a senior professional recruiter at Aerotek.

Network, network, network

Take a step back and make sure you’ve plumbed the hidden depths of your own professional relationship network. “I encourage people to network with people who have the job they are aspiring for and use that mentorship to get to that potential opportunity,” says Aerotek Senior Professional Recruiter Jacqueline Ross. You’ll never know how similar your story is to that of other professionals in your chosen field… unless you ask.

Don’t know who to ask? Ask who to ask. Check with your recruiter about who would be good to talk to, and review your own relationship network via social media such as LinkedIn. You can also research nearby networking opportunities such as industry events or alumni meetups. In any case, the more you do your homework, the more productive you’ll be when reaching out for mentorship help.

Emphasize transferrable skills

Focus on what’s unique about you, what you bring to the table that nobody else does, and communicate those differentiators clearly in applications, resumes and interviews. What makes you unique and valuable doesn’t have to be related to work experience or skills. According to Aerotek Senior Professional Recruiter Sam Yeomans, all employers are also looking for “communication ability, interpersonal/business development skills and a proactive approach to problem solving.”

If you spotlight your own unique value when pursuing a position you don’t have direct experience in, emphasize attitude, communication and professionalism. Be ready to give specific examples in your resume, cover letter and/or interview — and provide a professional contact who will testify to the transferability of your skills and experience. Career-change opportunities may be waiting at smaller companies and startups, where hiring practices may be more flexible regarding hard skills and experience.

Manage expectations and stay positive

Remember, your career path is a marathon, not a sprint. Taking a position at a level lower than you’re initially comfortable with at a company that offers growth opportunities might be a better career decision than accepting a management position at a company that’s the wrong fit.

It‘s easy to get discouraged in a long job search process. Remember that in all job searches, your task is to sell your value to prospective employers and to highlight the contributions you can make within an organization. You can’t do that if you don’t believe in you. Some small detail from your personal life — how you stayed up late to solve a puzzle, or went out of your way to help a relative in distress — can make the difference in the hiring process. You won’t have easy access to that information if it’s obscured by a negative mindset. Be positive. And don’t forget: You’re great!

Get help

Help is just around the corner. If you’re struggling with a prolonged job search, it might be time to seek out a professional recruiter.

Aerotek recruiter panelists Matt Wiehe, Jacqueline Ross, and Sam Yeomans contributed to this article.

How have you had success with an expanded job search? Share your insights on Facebook and Twitter.

Job-hunting? Visit Aerotek’s job board.