Success Comes in Small Measures

Q. I’ve been looking for a job for five months and am really frustrated. In this economy, I feel desperate, because there are SO many applicants. I have read all the job books on getting a job, but nothing seems to work. What does?

A. The job doc gets many questions commenting on the frustration of the job search process and noting the number of months that make the entire process so difficult. To job seekers who have been actively looking, and doing a great job on job search activity for more than twelve months, (and yes that is possible) five months seems like just the beginning.

A current job seeker wanted to share his perspective on time measured in job search days, and the need to stay positive in a process filled with rejection, fear, judgment, frustration, anger and sadness. It can be a challenge to find anything positive to combat the previous list, and these thoughts might get you started.

“It wasn’t hard for me to realize early in my job search that it was probably going to take a while to land a new position. And, early activity indicated that the journey was going to carry me through some pretty discouraging lows – if I let it. I decided that I needed to change my perspective and my expectations for this effort.

My perspective change was simply realizing that I now have an opportunity to control my time, and where I choose to spend it. How nice! I now view this time as a rare opportunity to do some things I never had a chance to do.
And, I have no time to waste – as this opportunity will be gone before I know it – giving way to a new position with its own unique challenges and rewards. So, I’m making sure I ENJOY the time and being careful not to waste it.


My expectations had to be re-calibrated. Calls from HR folks or recruiters for interviews have not been exactly filling up my calendar. It’s even been a challenge to get informational meetings with any consistent success. The fact is, given the economy, companies are very cautious. So, the cycle time to land a new role will be longer. This added time allows me to build on a couple of areas:

– Professional knowledge: I now have opportunities to learn new facets about my areas of interest, take some training, join a professional organization, and research prospective companies.
– Networking: I now have opportunities to go to networking sessions and meet someone new, go to professional association meetings which keep me in touch with the industry, and I keep in regular contact with folks in my network.

Combined, it keeps me VERY busy. The point though is that each time I succeed in one of these areas (and it doesn’t have to be big – say, I found an article and passed it on to someone and they respond with a “thanks”) – I have what I call “A SUCCESS”. At first, it doesn’t sound like much, but I have come to realize that each “SUCCESS” builds on itself. And usually, each one enhances both some knowledge gap as well as enhancing a network relationship – in both directions.

Over a short period of time, these little wins do add up. And the great part is that you begin to see yourself in a positive light and making progress towards landing that new role. Like anything else you do, you’ve got to stay with it for weeks to build the habit and start to experience the benefit. The key though is to take small steps and acknowledge each event, however small, as a “SUCCESS” – as this helps provide a metric to plot your growth and keep discouragement in check. It’s not to say I don’t have an occasional set back. When that happens, I unplug from this effort and focus on something in my personal life that I enjoy doing.


I know this all sounds rather simple, and it may look like I am just deluding myself. However, as importantly as building my network and enhancing my knowledge is, I have come to realize that this approach has begun to enhance my demeanor as well – which is the BIG key. I am really beginning to enjoy (yes enjoy) opportunities, however small, to engage in mutual enhancement opportunities. I can’t wait for the next one to come around the bend. And, if it doesn’t, I will initiate one. Again, it’s not hard to do – and it doesn’t have to be big. And, the really interesting part is that other people start to see it in you as well.

I have not yet landed a new role – which is obviously a key goal – but now not the only goal. And, I am beginning to have opportunities to discuss and share ideas further with folks at a couple of companies. This may or may not lead to a job, but it will lead to enhanced relationships, developing area(s) of knowledge, and creating yet another SUCCESS. All of which prepares me even further for my next role – and I believe moves me closer to it.”

Keep at it – be flexible, creative, and positive – you’ll move closer to your goals.

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