Rethink your job-search strategy after 3 months without a bite

If your job search has lasted more than three months, you should change your approach, says a Calgary career coach.

A guide to finding employment in Alberta's stiff labour market

After 3 months, it's time to refresh your job search strategy, says expert (ArTono/Shutterstock)

A series of layoffs in Alberta's energy sector means there's some stiff competition for jobs in the province.

To help you get that job, the Calgary Eyeopener enlisted the help of Richard Bucher, a career coach with Right Management.

Bucher says if you've been job searching for three months with no offers, it's time to rethink your strategy.

But that three-month timeframe doesn't start the day after you get laid off.

"The clock really doesn't start ticking until you're ready to launch your search," said Bucher.

Many of Bucher's clients take one to six months off after they lose their jobs, he noted, because they've been in their job for a long time and haven't had more than two weeks off since high school.

"Practically speaking, you've taken a sabbatical," said Bucher, "don't advertise that you've taken a lot of time off."

So how do you reboot a job search that's lagging?

In our new "Get a Job" column, career coach Richard Bucher offers advice for crafting the perfect resume. 6:53

1. Don't panic​

If a job search drags on too long, self-doubt can set in, says Bucher.

"The fear is, when is this going to be over, am I going to land a job, when am I going to land a job, are there any jobs out there?"

2. Expand your target list

You might start with a list of 20 target companies you'd like to work for, but if you've exhausted those possibilities, expand it to include the companies your target companies work with.

Your expanded target list might include as many as 100 companies.

3. Have a Plan B 

Bucher advises job seekers to look at ways to make a living from something outside their past work history.

As an example, he mentioned an engineer client passionate about the outdoors who is working on becoming a paid guide.

4. Consider working for yourself

Going into business for yourself can be a good idea during a work transition, said Bucher.

He points out the tax advantages to starting a sole proprietorship early in your transition.

"It allows you to expense some of the costs you're incurring in your transition — coffees, lunches, mileage, computers, things of that nature."

Bucher noted that calling yourself a consultant is a good way to navigate a job transition and frame your work history with prospective employers.

"As a consultant, I'm looking for work, I'm working on a project, or I'm doing both," he said.

"Regardless, I'm employed. So if I've been in my campaign for six months, and I still haven't landed a job, then what I might put [on the resume] is Executive Coach, 2016 to present, and that is my current role."

Richard Bucher is a senior consultant with Right Management, a Calgary-based talent and career management company.

5. Stay positive

Bucher says it's not all gloom and doom on Calgary's job market.

He hosts networking events regularly, and at the most recent one there were about 20 people.

Of those, nine had had recent job interviews, eight of those came from the job seekers' networks, and two had written job offers pending.

"People are landing jobs, people are landing contracts," said Bucher, "and there's more of that every week."


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