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You (Really) Can't Get a Job. Now What?

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You've been unemployed for months, and applications have become your full-time job. You're diligent, persistent and determined, sinking hours each day into your job search, distributing resumes and typing out follow-up emails and making connections and attending interviews. But even with all that hard work, you haven't actually landed a job offer – so what now?

If you're doing everything you possibly can and you're still stuck in that cycle of long-term unemployment, the reason probably isn't pretty. Chances are, either your standards are too high, you're living in the wrong place, you're losing the branding game or you're fishing in the wrong pond altogether (industry-wise). Read on to figure out what your problem is, and how to fix it.

Loosen Your Standards

Obviously, lowering your job standards is a last-resort option. You want to find work in a field you enjoy, for a fair salary, in a respectful environment and with reasonable hours. But as Nexxt pointed out in a 2014 article, a few situations might simply call for you to bring your standards down a notch.

If you're just starting out in a certain field, you can't expect to wake up on third base. Perhaps you're coming from a successful career in a different field, or you have an impressive skill set and college portfolio under your belt – but that doesn't mean you're entitled to skip the entry-level stuff. It's possible that you might have to start from scratch and accept a lower-level position than you'd ideally like, but do so with the ambition of moving upward quickly.

When the economy's tough and you're desperate for a paycheck, this might also be a sign it's time to settle for less than what you deserve. Take the job you need to take, and try your best to do so without attaching shame or guilt to it. Stay afloat and work to bounce back when you can.

Finally, there's the golden rule your dad always told you when you were in college, which you might have been ignoring lately: It's easiest to find work when you already have work. If you've been perpetually unemployed for much too long, it might be time to start looking at positions that you'd normally consider beneath you – if only because it'll be easier to land job offers once you're employed again.

Change Your Address

This might seem drastic, but ask yourself: Is it too unreasonable? FlexJobs suggests that if you're stuck in an extended period of unemployment, it might be time to go where the jobs are. This might mean moving to a different city or state, and some people go all out and even cross borders in the pursuit of job opportunities in their field. Consider the geographic areas in which your field is really thriving, the cost of living in those areas and whether it might be worth the move in order to advance your career (or to get a job at all).

If you're seeking employment in IT, healthcare, education, customer service or media, your prospective position might be telecommuter-friendly. Keep this in mind during your job hunt: Consider whether companies in your industry might be hiring remote workers, and whether you're willing to work from home. This might speed up your job hunt and help you find a way around any crazy cross-country moves.

Brand Better

Most job seekers tend to brand themselves in the same way, filling their cover letters with jargon and their resumes with boring business language. They break their unique, interesting stories down into stiff, emotionless fragments, and rely on those fragments to sell employers on their viability in the workplace. But according to Forbes, that's a great way to completely bore hiring managers and urge them to move on to the next candidate. If you've been branding yourself as a "results-oriented professional" just like every other job seeker on the market, it might be time for a resume makeover.

Write about yourself with the same authentic and human tone of conversation that you'd use to describe yourself to a new friend. Be friendly and conversational, and don't be afraid to infuse your resume and cover letters with your personal voice. Use application platforms as opportunities to tell your story, not just provide a laundry list of brittle reasons why you'd make a worthwhile employee. You're more than an employee. Let that shine through in your personal branding.

Abandon Ship

If you've done everything you can possibly think of to wrangle a job offer in your industry of choice, but you simply haven't been able to, then it might be time to swallow a bitter pill: Your industry of choice may not be the right industry for you. Open your mind (and your job search) to other fields and unexplored career paths, and don't consider it a failure. You may find more fulfillment or have more fun in an unfamiliar industry, and it's very possible that you'll encounter more opportunities.

References

About the Author

Brenna Swanston is a freelance writer, editor and journalist. She previously reported for the Sun newspaper in Santa Maria, Calif., and holds a bachelor's in journalism from California Polytechnic State University.