June 7

So tired of trying to find a job? Here’s what to try.



You’re diligently applying for jobs.

You’re going through job portals, taking the time to prepare your CVs, adjust the experiences to suit each job you’re going for, and you’re even taking time to write long cover letters.

You’ve even been careful. You’re not forwarding the same cover letter to other employers.

But nothing seems to be changing.

You might be approaching this in the wrong way.

Banging your head more times against the proverbial LinkedIn wall isn’t going to work.

The job market seems to have changed

Recently at a talk about pay, a HR Lead mentioned how the employee market was now turning to an employer market.

This meant that the employers now had a good range of picks, and they did not have to be forced to pick someone who was ill suited.

Beyond that, the market has also shifted away from employees doing direct applications, to it becoming a more targeted process, where independent recruiters are scouring the market for the best talent to recommend to companies.

Directly applying may not be the highest probability of you getting the job.

Who are you to say this?

I applied for more than 106 jobs across 27 months (that is 2 years and 3 months), went for 31 interviews, and did not get a single job offer.

At this point, if you’re looking for more quick hacks, you shouldn’t read on.

This is an article for those who are struggling to stay motivated for the job hunt, and want to know how to keep going.

Here’s what I wish someone had told me.

Directly applying seems to work less well

If you’re going to the likes of job portals, and sending your CVs through those portals, you might not find much success.

Your CV is going directly to the Human Resources manager, who’s chief purpose is to say ‘no’. She’s not the one who can say yes.

Instead, it might work better for you to find the direct hiring manager over LinkedIn, and sending her a Connect request or an email.

The hiring manager is the one who will decide whether to hire you.

The HR manager is there to decide how to get you onboard, or how to get you off their back.

You might look too impressive

I remember at least 3 interviewers telling me that I was too ‘overqualified’ for the entry level role I was applying. In another interview, I made a PowerPoint to show the accomplishments I had in the past. The interviewer ended up asking me,

I don’t understand why you’re coming to this entry level position when things already seem to be working well for you.

It was the first time I realised that being too good, might be a bad thing.

You might also see this happening in your interviews.

After a while, despite you sharing about your great achievements, you might find yourself losing out to someone whom you think is less qualified.

Or you might wonder why your achievements don’t seem recognised.

Or you might see your potential boss shifting uncomfortably in their seat, and you wonder why.

The ‘future plans’ question may be a trick question

You face questions like,

I’m wondering what are your future plans?

Where do you see yourself in five years?

This is a trick question.

If you say you plan to be a leader, you would need an extremely secure manager for him to be willing to accept that level of ambition, and hire you. If the hiring manager is not as secure, he might think you’re there to usurp them.

I’m not being cynical. I’m being realistic.

This is what I personally experienced, across 3 different interviews. When I told them that I eventually hoped to lead an organisation, I didn’t hear back.

What’s important is for you to pace your answers.

First get in, before you try being the boss.

When you’re first starting out, you need to realise that your boss might not want you to end up overshadowing them.

They want someone who they know will do the work.

Not someone whom they think will be too creative, and might end up being promoted into their position.

Earn enough to feed yourself

Money can be very concerning, especially if you don’t have enough.

When you’re feeling close to giving up on finding a job, try earning just enough from jobs that you can get in easily.

It can be something like waitering, doing deliveries, and anything that can help you earn enough to feed yourself.

But it’s vital that you don’t go all out and end up not having enough time to do the work that will get you a job.

Don’t focus on the job, but focus on what you’re truly good at

If you’ve read our content over the years, you would have realised that much of our work is focused on strengths. People do their best work when they are able to work through their strengths.

More importantly, when you’re able to create value much faster, and much easier than others, that should be the place you should be concentrating your efforts on.

Naval Ravikant, the angel investor behind the likes of Uber, Airbnb once said,

For example, a good software engineer, just by writing the right little piece of code and creating the right little application, can literally create half a billion dollars’ worth of value for a company.

But ten engineers working ten times as hard, just because they choose the wrong model, the wrong product, wrote it the wrong way, or put in the wrong viral loop, have basically wasted their time. Inputs don’t match outputs, especially for leveraged workers.

Thinking about where you bring the most value, the most easily, can be tough, but its necessary for you to better think through the time you’re in now.

Have you ever thought that you might be struggling because you’re not doing what you’re good at, but what you can or grew up learning to do?

This too has meaning

Where you are at now, is hard. Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not discounting it. But I’m saying that if you’re willing to continue to see this as a time to learn, you would build something useful from it.

Just don’t walk away.

Not yet.



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