Career Corner: It’s Not the Search That’s Hard

Often times, waiting to hear back from perspective employers is the hardest part of the job search process. – Courtesy photo

By Angela Copeland

If you’re in the middle of a job search, you know: it’s not the searching that’s hard. If you have a loved one who’s looking for a job, you may wonder what has gone wrong in their life. They’re moody and they doubt their abilities. You wonder what’s taking them so long.

This is what you have to keep in mind about actively searching for a job. Normally, we don’t find jobs by actively looking. We find a job because our uncle heard of something. Or, our old boss recruited us. Or, we ran into someone at a conference who was hiring. This is quick. It’s quick because we weren’t looking. A job landed in our lap.

When we actively search for a job, the process is different. We often start with loved ones and try to enlist their help. Then, we apply online. We find ourselves spending hours searching for jobs and filling out online applications. The process feels similar to going to a doctor for the first time: invasive. Sometimes, we’re asked questions about our past salaries. We may be asked whether or not our social media posts are in line with the company’s values. We may be asked to take personality tests and IQ tests – before we even speak to a real person at the company.

Once we start talking to real people, the process can get worse. Often, hiring managers aren’t great interviewers. They’re late to the interview. They reschedule with no notice. They may ask illegal questions and they may talk down to us.

When we’re not selected, the process is equally challenging. Often, we hear nothing back. Other times, we get an automated email rejection with no details. In some lucky scenarios, we get a chance to speak with a real human. Sometimes, those conversations are helpful. But other times, the person on the other end of the phone seems to forget they’re talking to another human. It’s as if they think they’re giving feedback on a car they’ve test driven. They’re quick to judge and will tell us that we aren’t qualified. We come from the wrong industry or we don’t have enough experience.

The thing that’s the hardest though is that this feedback is very often not 100 percent accurate. We may not have done a perfect job at communicating our strengths. Or, the company just needs to come up with an excuse to hire someone else. But, as a job seeker, it’s hard to know what the “truth” is. We may begin to doubt our abilities.

The most difficult part of searching is the waiting. It’s not unusual for a company to take three, four, or even six months to complete their search. In the meantime, we’re sitting on the sidelines, biting our nails.

So, if you have a friend who is job seeking, cut them a little slack. It’s not the searching that’s so hard.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at

April 18, 2019

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Angela Copeland

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