Stuck in a thankless job search? Here’s how to turn it around

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With Thanksgiving right around the corner, everyone is thinking about what he or she treasures most in life. But if you’re spending the holiday season unsuccessfully looking for work, it can seem like there’s little to be thankful for.

Before throwing in the towel, consider these tips for turning around a few thankless job search scenarios:

Writing or updating a résumé
A résumé is a job seeker’s one must-have item. But few professionals relish the thought of sitting down for an hour … or two … or three … to draft this document from scratch. Even updating an existing résumé can be a chore if it’s been hidden in the bottom drawer of your desk for half a dozen years.

Save yourself the headache by updating your résumé continually. Did you recently finish a large project at work? Update your résumé. Learn a new software program? Update your résumé. Work pro bono for a nonprofit? Update your résumé. You get the drift: Don’t wait until you’re in the job market to work on this document.

Updating your résumé as your professional life evolves will make the process easier. At the same time, you’ll also always have an up-to-date version on hand, which can be especially important if you find yourself in the job market unexpectedly. And you won’t be in danger of forgetting the details about a noteworthy professional accomplishment years later.

Never hearing back from employers
One of the most frustrating feelings is identifying a job you know you’re perfect for, submitting your application materials … and then hearing nothing from the company.

Unfortunately, you may find yourself in this situation from time to time. Some companies do not respond to all job applicants, particularly when they receive a high volume of résumés. But you can improve your odds of hearing back, even if you simply get confirmation that your résumé was received.

If it’s been a couple of weeks since you applied for a job, and you haven’t received an update on the status of your application, follow up with the employer to emphasize your continued interest in the position. Often, this small step will prompt a response from the hiring manager. More important, you’ll put your name on the hiring manager’s radar and even may persuade the person to give your résumé and cover letter a second look.

Interviewing but not getting a job offer
You answered the hiring manager’s questions perfectly, and the two of you hit it off right away. You know you’re a lock for the job, but then you learn that it went to someone else.

You can reduce the likelihood of this happening the next time you interview with a potential employer in a couple of easy ways. First, consider asking the hiring manager for honest feedback about your interview performance. You might say something like, “I’m sorry to hear I didn’t get the job. Do you have any advice for how I could improve my chances next time?” Not every employer will be candid with you, but you could gain valuable insight from the ones who are.

Also, remember to practice, practice, practice. Although the thought may make you uncomfortable, conducting a mock interview with a friend or family member can help you iron out any rough spots and build confidence for the main event.

There’s no sugar-coating it: The job search process can often prove frustrating. But by taking a few simple steps, you can sidestep some of the challenges that contribute to this feeling and increase the likelihood that the next job you pursue is the one you land.

Robert Half International is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 350 offices worldwide. For more information about our professional services, visit For additional career advice, view our career bloopers video series at or follow us on Twitter at

  1. I chuckled at your point about sitting down and updating your resume because I saw many friends go through this! Dont put it off; get it started before you need it.

  2. If you’re alert, you can smell layoffs in the air. My resume was ready to go when I was “unexpectedly” laid off 18 months ago from a high paying job at age 60. I also had a couple of leads to follow on immediately. One paid off, although I had to take a large pay cut. (55%) I was only out of work 26 days, well within the severence I got. The remaining severence time helped the family adjust to the lower income.
    Now I also build guitars at night to supplement our income a little, using a 40 year woodworking skill that has paid off as an additional talent. Did I think I would be working two jobs, 55 hours plus a week at age 62? No, but our bills are paid, and we are still looking at our retirement with some optimism! Plus, the guitars are looking like a nice retirement business!

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