5 Signs Your Job Search Efforts Lack Heart

5 iMan in a rain coat with head resting on hands thinking
It’s discouraging to see the success of others when you are working hard to find your next opportunity. Whether you’re unemployed or trying to find a job while you’re employed the length of time it takes to find a new job can be daunting.

Depending on the articles you read, or who you talk to there are no hard facts on the average time it takes to complete a job search in 2016. Many are still quoting articles from a couple of years ago citing that one should plan for one month of job searching for every $10,000 of salary desired, so if you desire a salary of $60,000 than your job search will likely take six months.

When unemployed it is important to renew your reasoning for pursuing a chosen path. It has to be YOUR reason. If it’s not, it will be that much harder. Plus there’s the possibility that you lack motivation.

There are probably signs you have lost motivation and here are some ways you are giving in:

  1. You’re afraid to fail so you apply to easier jobs. If you do this, you’ll be overlooked for the sake of appearing overqualified. We get it, when your motivation begins to wane, sometimes you don’t want a job with much pressure so you fool yourself into thinking a lesser paying job will be fine for now. But what happens when the lesser paying job is much more stressful and aggravating than the one on your career path?
  2. When criticism from past jobs persists in your current job search. It is a problem when the voices of the past haunt you. The best remedy is to fill your life with more success narratives that remind you that you are good at what you do and you have the confidence to succeed. Just because you might be currently out of a job, it doesn’t mean you’re not good at what you do.
  3. When encouragement is conditional and you’re about to burst. A very common phrase often attributed to Ben Franklin is, “God helps those who help themselves”, and if you hear it one more time during your job search you might feel like you’re going to burst. This proverb emphasizes the importance of taking initiative, however during a job search, making your own way isn’t always possible, but that shouldn’t stop you from asking for help. Reaching out to your network could make all the difference. One job referral or contact could change your job search and maybe even you’re career path.
  4. You find satisfaction in the possibilities. Do you consider success completing an online application or a company saying they received your application? You should be working to get real results. A productive job search yields conversations and interviews, not processes. While completing an application is a means to sitting in front of hiring managers, you must try as many sources, techniques, and tools as possible. You can never rely on just one thing as it will likely disappoint.
  5. Fear or the lack of fear determines your actions. When you’re conducting a job search that is seized by fear, you do what’s comfortable. But you need to break past that discomfort to stay up-to-date with industry trends and keep in touch with your network. Fear hinders your ability to be proactive or get out of your comfort zone. Do one thing per week that makes you uncomfortable. The more you conquer fear the more you’ll see results.

If you’re feeling any of these five signs, then it might be time to reevaluate your career choices. Ensure you’re doing what you want and break past any fear that might be holding you back.  Think we missed any signs? Tell us in the comments!

This guest post was written by Mark Anthony Dyson. Mark Anthony Dyson is a career consultant, host & producer of “The Voice of Job Seekers” podcast, and Founder of the blog by the same name. We are helping the unemployed, underemployed, and under-appreciated job seekers find and create a voice. Follow Mark on Twitter.


  1. I was in the Automotive retail /sales for 24 years … December 2015 The owner of the company I worked for retired and closed the doors ..
    About the last 5 years before that happened I was telling myself when he goes I go meaning I did not want to do this kind of work anymore ( just got burnt out ) … I did not have a plan then and I do not have a plan now … I find myself ( like the article says ) …wanting to do something lesser and with that comes lesser pay … anyway I am still looking …

  2. David, I hear ya. I’ve been at my current job for 9 years. Doesn’t pay as much as I could make if I had my computer skills in order. My problem is, I want to do it alllllll. LOL I need to focus on one thing that I believe I’m really good at. So, essentially, what I’m saying is that I don’t have a plan, either. I hope you find what you need, and soon!

  3. I have 30 years with the DOD, talk about a specific careerfield! I was totally burnt out in my job(s)- shiftwork, stress but couldn’t find any movement in the field. I’m playing with cyber on the outside but it pales in comparison to my previous work…how to sell myself on “retail” versus US security issues? I have no problem going back to school, if its not a waste of my time and $$$. What to do for an encore when I still have a couple of kids at home? (i.e. – the salary has to more than cover sitter costs) Too young to be out of the game, too old to take starting pay without growth or development options. We’ll see- lots of nibbles but the pay is ridiculous, back to “nights”? Good luck all!

  4. I just finished getting B.S. in Business administration with a focus on information systems and I have an Associates Degree in Computer Science but no experience in anything but medical financial area. I am having such a hard time finding something and I am so in debt with student loans.

  5. Thank you for all of the comments. Have you had your resumes reviewed by a career coach? This might be an easy thing that could make a big difference in your job searches.

  6. Interesting suggestions; all very true and applicable to everyone!
    But, my only comment is to the Article – quote: “While completing an application is a means to sitting in front of hiring managers, you must try as many sources, techniques, and tools as possible. You can never rely on just one thing as it will likely disappoint.” What ARE the sources, techniques, and tools that one should use? The author needs to realize that many of us aren’t in touch with what all the current “job search lingo” means. As I may be on the road in a month or so, it would be nice to know what I am missing in the current climate.
    The only advice I have found that works over the decades, “It’s not WHO you know; it’s who knows YOU!”. Network, network, and when you’re sick of networking, get out there and keep on networking. All but 2 of my jobs were through someone else that met and knew me! And the 2 others were temp agency, or, online application (that only worked that one time). When people get to know you and your skills, they can often land you a position in a company once they get there themselves. Even something as trivial as helping a first timer job seeker out with a resume will get points.. BUT.. still 1 – 2 months of search for every $10K of salary..

  7. I think number four is a poor, or at least unclear, choice of words. Yes, the objective is to get results, but you should feel satisfaction about getting calls, and other signs of interest. It is motivating and exciting. And that translates into taking further and more intense action. If one is to take the attitude of “Big deal, it’s only a phone screen. They will probably talk to 20 other people and take a month to even get back to me,” it is very hard to keep motivated or excited and that will permeate your interactions with any prospective employer.

  8. I have a life philosophy that has worked well for me: I ask myself, “How would a baby and a dog handle this?” No, I don’t mean I pee on a rejection notice or cry at the top of my lungs in a restaurant. I mean, when I am applying, or being considered for a job, I am totally focused on that job. I believe I will get it. “Of course you will like me; how could you not?” (Dog part – yes, with a “p”). Also, I’m not going to listen to now many times you tried and failed. I don’t care how many times I’ve fallen and hit my head. I’m going to get up and walk (baby part). It may sound corny, but really, how else would a dog be able to communicate with us without being able to speak. How would it, without being in control of its daily life, be able to get anything it wants? And if babies thought like us experienced adults, how long would it be before it gave up on learning to walk, talk, or even understand daily life? Now, I know some people say, “What about the definition of insanity/stupidity – doing the same thing, expect different results…” Well, to that I say babies learn to find better things to grab onto to help them get up. Dogs learn it doesn’t help them to steal cookies off the counter. They modify their behavior but they never give up on their beliefs that they will accomplish their tasks and they never let momentary defeats derail them.

  9. Hi Kerrigan,
    I used to coach federal employees and facilitate workshops for DOD employees. You are in a spot so many people are in. School is an option but not for everyone. Connecting with others outside your circle could lead to options you don’t know about. LinkedIn is one of the best places to go to find groups in your industry, and connect with people who can introduce you to other possibilities. If you are not on LinkedIn, it is one of the best resources to mine for possibilities. You don’t have to settle.

  10. Hi Eliot,
    I don’t know how many people over the years have told me they’ve tried everything, but solely apply to job boards. Beyond’s efforts help many people find work he or she desires. You cannot afford to rely on passive efforts or just one way of finding work you want. This comment addresses those who don’t network or use the many other tools available. People want to be found for jobs too, so LinkedIn helps. You can connect with others online, so social networks is another. All of these are small components get to the big picture.

  11. I have utilized all of the techniques spoken of on this blog;networking, job boards, finding the hidden markets etc. Employers say my qualifications are impressive in the HR and Sales fields, yet I still remain severely under-employed. I know employers are not supposed to discriminate based on age…disability per Title VII but they do. Even my current employer is discriminating against me. You see, I am caught in catch twenty two situation. I have been disabled since the age of 18 due to a stroke. Since that time, I have had a 10 year career in HR and a 5 year career as an Account Executive where I was #2 in the nation for a service company. Yet now that I’m in my fifties employers cannot get past my age and disability even though I have the proven skills and talents.
    I have achieved every goal I set for myself after my debilitating stroke; obtained a BS degree that doctors said wasn’t attainable. Recently achieved my PHR certification. Lead project teams. Gained accolades as stated above and doubled my sales territory. I know this isn’t the forum to vent my frustration but I am looking for assistance and advice. I have applied for over 200 positions in the last 18 months. I have had some phone interviews and a couple of interviews. No offers.
    Employers or recruiters cannot accept me for the achiever I am despite my limp and speech patterns. I don’t want to be in retail the rest of my life. I have more to offer! All of the Washington State employment services including the disability office have closed my cases. They say I am fully employable.If this is the case, why aren’t I employed in either of my chosen career fields.
    I apologize for the tenor of this correspondence. If anyone has any advice please write to me.

  12. Hi Scott,
    I can see you’re discouraged. At the same time, you have some fight in you. For sure, after 50 (just like me), the best work is to come. There are some things you can try to put your name in potential employers space. Unfortunately, no single strategy is a magic wand, and with some patience, it may work depending on the positive energy you extend:
    1. Volunteer
    There are non-profit organizations that could use your expertise and possibly do it virtually. It may take a little research but you would be surprised who could use your 10 years of experience as a consultant. You can also quell the doubts of anyone who thinks your limitations impede your ability to provide value.
    2. Volunteer on Board of Directors
    You can have even more influence by getting on a board. It is not as hard as you think. Small non-profits might be perfect for this time of opportunity.
    3. Try small non-profits
    Don’t apply on a job board, but use LinkedIn to see if you can develop some relationships there. They would also have relationships with other small non-profits to refer you if they like you. Note one of the key words here is relationships.
    Be valuable more than what you expect back.
    4. Check YouTube for companies that hire disabled workers
    You would be surprised of the number of employers who want the public to know they would hire. It may lead you to other resources and listings.
    5. Try blogging
    Blogging can bring people to you if you’re willing to write about what you know. You can put your knowledge and experience before them. It will take time, but even if you succeed at getting a job, keep up the blog so you will continue to add value to others and your career.
    I hope this helps. I’m sorry I don’t have quick solutions, but don’t give up. You seem as if you have much to contribute still.

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