Job search burnout is a real phenomenon among job seekers, and it can develop slowly, eventually leading to an overwhelming sense of dread that stems from simply thinking about continuing your search. Laura Schmiegel, a lead associate for Military Programs at Booz Allen Hamilton, has been advising career-focused military spouses for years and understands the disappointment a fruitless job search can create.
Nothing is more frustrating than sending out dozens of resumes and hearing nothing back,” Schmiegel said.
The entire process can take its toll on even the most enthusiastic seeker, but there are ways to avoid this frustrating spiral; step one is focusing your efforts in a purposeful and productive way. Below are three tactics you can implement today to steer clear of burnout and reframe your search.
Resume Format Refresh
You may be tired of looking at your resume day after day, but this is exactly where you should start: by assessing how effectively your resume represents your skills. Some recruiters and managers spend mere seconds looking at resumes, meaning that if your skills and experience aren’t clearly and visually communicated, you may be out of consideration before your resume even gets through the door.
To showcase your professional skills and experience, a resume format change may be in order.
“If you’ve always used a chronologically-based resume and are looking for a new way to frame your career, consider a skills-based resume,” suggests Schmiegel. “Many military spouses gain skills from non-traditional jobs, or have a portfolio that should showcase a skill.”
If gaps in your employment history or multiple positions pepper your resume, a skills-based resume format may be a good choice. Hiring Our Heroes, in partnership with Toyota, offers a unique resume building tool developed exclusively for military spouses, that can highlight the strengths your experiences have give you the opportunity, without letting you unique employment history detract from those strengths. My Career Spark also connects military spouse job seekers to thousands of military friendly employers in the My Career Spark database.
Strengthen Your Social Sites
Updating your LinkedIn profile is vital to growing your personal brand, especially in today’s digital job market. Schmiegel suggests that a LinkedIn profile is as instrumental in your search as a traditional resume. “Almost all employers, including Booz Allen, use LinkedIn to find employees and post opportunities. Period,” emphasized Schmiegel. “You should approach LinkedIn the same way you would approach a resume. Consider what employers you would like to attract and tailor your profile to anticipate their needs.”
Keeping your profile current with new skills and jobs is key, but that’s just the starting point. Consider these additional changes to make your profile stand out in a sea of applicants.
Nail the Headline
- After your name, the headline is the first thing people see when they view your profile. The headline can be a powerful tool for establishing your professional image and connecting with industry professionals. It’s also one of the most important fields for LinkedIn’s search algorithm, according to LinkedIn’s headline video.
- To maximize your headline’s exposure, use strategic keywords relating to your skills and specialties. If you’re unemployed, tout the skills and abilities you currently have, rather than simply listing yourself as “unemployed.” Capture what you do professionally, or how you want to be viewed as a professional, and translate that idea into a captivating headline. Whatever you do, don’t leave this box blank, or you risk missing out on a wealth of profile views and future professional connections.
Add Media Magic
- A surefire way to elevate your profile content and tell your story more effectively is by adding media. Not sure what to add or feel that your career field isn’t particularly creative? There are plenty of media options to consider: photos, video, a slide show presentation, a white paper you wrote, a link to a story about a presentation you gave, or even a link to your resume. Not only will media files boost your profile’s interaction with viewers, but it will display your work and abilities in a variety of creative ‘voices’ that can leave a deeper impact than just the written word.
Publicize Your Profile
- Having a profile that’s locked down and private to most viewers will prevent you from realizing the full potential the LinkedIn platform offers. Making your LinkedIn profile public means your name and associated keywords will pop up in searches of the same words. Hiring managers search LinkedIn profiles using both job titles and skill sets, so increase your chances of being viewed by a potential employer and go public with your profile.
Start Networking Now
Networking is an incredibly powerful tool that can help you land your next interview or job offer. Well executed, networking it always produces a solid return on your time invested. With as many as 80% of positions in the job market being filled by recommendations, networking is vital to any serious job search.
Putting your name and experience out to the hiring world is a logical first step, but don’t miss the valuable networking opportunities that already exist within your circle of friends, fellow military spouses, and family members. You can now easily network without even leaving your home through social media sites, online jobs fairs, and professional groups. These avenues are a great starting point for job seekers just beginning to network or those returning after a pause.
For additional networking opportunities, consider these options:
- Professional Trade Organizations
- Industry-Specific Member Groups
- Volunteer for Organizations Related to Your Field (and make valuable connections)
- School Alumni Groups
- Military Spouse Groups & Clubs
The Military Spouse Professional Network, a program of Hiring Our Heroes, is a perfect place to launch yourself into networking and grow your circle of contacts. The all-volunteer-led chapters connect career-minded military spouses with peers, employers, and mentors at more than 45 locations around the world. The groups host regular career development events and networking functions, and each location offers a Facebook group for members, all at no cost. Not near an MPSN location? There’s also a virtual chapter for military spouses, so you can connect with other professionals no matter where you’re located.
To search for a MSPN location and learn more about events near you, visit the Military Spouse Professional Network at Hiring Our Heroes.
Staying committed to the process when your search extends beyond your anticipated timeline can be tough, which is why Schmiegel advises military spouses to take the long view when looking for the right job.
“A military career is so rewarding, but if you are committed to it, it’s a 20-year hiatus from a linear career path, in most cases. That doesn’t mean you can’t grow,” she said. “Just think generally about what skill sets will set you up for the quickest success when you finally stop moving and build those throughout your military life.”
Placing your focus on continual growth, whether that’s while you’re looking for a job or after you’re hired, will reduce frustration in the short term and offer more reward over the full stretch of your career. And in applying these steps, you’ll also discover that you gain a robust community from networking along the way.