Running the job search marathon

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If you’re currently seeking employment, you will be acutely aware of the downward trend in jobs in Australia since the onset of Covid-19 in March.  In its most recent release from its Job Vacancies series, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported a decrease in total job vacancies of approximately 43% from February to May, with a much higher drop in the private sector (45%) compared to the public sector (28.9%). 

More recently, The Sydney Morning Herald cited new government data suggesting that there is only one job available for every 10 people seeking work in NSW and Victoria.  Of course, the impact is not limited to these states, with the unemployment rate increasing across all states and territories, with the largest increases noted for WA, NT, VIC and QLD (ABS).

Depending on when you entered the job market, this may be the first time you have faced such a challenging market for employment.  Until recently, many job seekers have been used to securing a role within a month of actively seeking new employment.  Indeed, many report that they haven’t needed to actively pursue a role for some time.  Job changes have occurred as a result of the proverbial ‘tap on the shoulder’. 

What used to be a sprint, has turned into a marathon.  In the current market, individuals who are highly experienced and qualified are reaching out for support after being ‘on the market’ for three months or more, with no success.  Some job seekers are going as long as several months before securing an interview, despite being very active in submitting applications.

So, what does this mean for you?  It means mentally preparing yourself for the long-haul and undertaking the planning you need to sustain your momentum over the course of your job search.  It means getting ready for a marathon, not a sprint.

Here are our top tips to help you go the distance:

Plan your finances

You need to understand your financial position and how long you can support yourself while out of work. Using a financial expenditure plan can be a good first step (Headspace has one here that you could try).  Depending on the complexities of your personal finances, it may be helpful to seek formal advice from a qualified financial planner.

Use your support team

A marathon runner strikes a lonely figure on the road, but the reality is that each runner has a huge support team who provide them with practical and emotional support.  Consider who you will approach to help you with the tangible aspects of your job search (e.g. resume, LinkedIn profile, interview preparation), and who you will reach out to for a morale boost when you need it.

Have a Plan B (and a Plan C!)

In a buoyant job market you may have the luxury to pursue your ideal role, but the current market may require a more pragmatic approach. Consider what your Plan B is and when you will revert to this.  A good plan B will set you up for your Plan A in the long-term.

Leverage your network

Think about who you know, who will be able to help you uncover and explore non-advertised positions, such as temping, sub-contracting or consulting opportunities.  When you see a role advertised, work hard to find a way ‘in’ through a personal connection or a direct approach to the
hiring manager.

Keep going, keep going, keep going

Securing a role in the current market requires perseverance. It may take a number of applications before you receive an interview or even an initial call. Remember that pinning down a job is a numbers game and you have to be in it to win it!

Searching for a job is tough and it can be disheartening when you don’t see the results straightaway. A lack of immediate success is not a reflection on you and what you have to offer but rather a reflection of a tough market. Planning and perseverance will ultimately pay off, but you need to be prepared to go the distance.

If you are interested in securing the support of a career coach to help you with your journey, contact our Career and Change team today via career&

Laura Enger
Principal Consultant Psychologist


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