Job Search Insanity—The One Mistake That Leads to Longer Searches and More Stress

Great Resumes Fast » Job Search » Job Search Insanity—The One Mistake That Leads to Longer Searches and More Stress

This article is a part of my series, Hope for Your Job Search. This series is about helping relieve job seekers of the stress and frustration often associated with job searching and to show them that there is HOPE for a successful and short job search.

I hear the pain and the frustration in job seekers’ voices every day. They’re discouraged from spending countless hours job searching only to end up feeling like they’re just spinning their wheels and going nowhere. Job seekers are becoming disillusioned with job boards and discovering quickly that job boards aren’t the answer they hoped they would be. It seems job seekers aren’t sure where else to turn or what else to do—and this is leading to frustration, desperation, and stress. Well, if you haven’t heard it yet, let me be the first to tell you there IS hope. Your job search doesn’t have to be stressful and depressing—or frustrating and overwhelming.

Although I cannot offer you one magical solution that will fix all of your job search woes—or find you a job in one day after only one hour’s worth of effort (no one can promise that, by the way; and if they do … RUN)—what I can tell you is that with some effort and a diversified job search strategy, your job search can be much less time consuming and a whole lot shorter than the average job search of 6-10 months.

So Where Do Most Job Seekers Go Wrong?

According to this job search study, the average job seeker spends between 5%-20% of his or her time during the week searching for work (given a 40-hour work week, for the sake of some simplified math—that means between 2-8 hours spent job searching). Of the 2-8 hours spent searching, almost ALL of it was on job boards. Up to 96% of job seekers spent their time exclusively online—with only 4% conducting work searches offline. Doing the math for you here … that means, at best, job seekers spend 19.2 minutes PER WEEK using one of the methods I’m about to mention—and at worst, they spend 4.8 minutes per week using these methods. That’s incredible! That means between 5-19 minutes per week of job search time is being spread across all the other search methods—networking, informational interviews, cold calling, direct mail, targeting, etc. It’s no wonder that

a) job seekers are frustrated and not getting any responses from job boards and

b) that the other search methods are wildly more fruitful at helping people to land jobs—yet they’re hardly utilized at all!

Here’s my plain interpretation for you:

Job boards = SATURATED.

Other job search methods = LITTLE TO NO COMPETITION.

Would you rather be job searching in an overcrowded pool full of candidates … or using methods that virtually no one else is using and securing employment in a fraction of the time it takes the average job seeker?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying job boards are all bad. I know that some people do get jobs from them, but the odds are not in your favor—I can assure you of that. I hope this little math lesson has been effective at convincing you that job boards are essentially the least effective way that you’ll find a job—and turning to them exclusively is the reason why many job seekers are frustrated at the end of the day.

But like I mentioned at the beginning of the article, there is hope! You don’t have to keep banging your head against the wall or feel like you’re going insane. As I’m sure you’ve heard, someone once defined insanity as the act of doing something over and over again and expecting a different result. I think it fits here.

Here are a few more numbers to chew on:

Many experts report that 75%-85% of jobs are hidden. That means they’re openings that are not published online, on the company website, a job board, or shared socially. In fact, once someone other than the decision maker knows about a position, it has just become visible; and as soon as it hits social media it’s no longer a hidden position, and competition increases exponentially.

According to this article on, job seekers should only spend 20% of their job search time on job boards—and still other experts recommend only 10%. In the aforementioned Forbes article, executive career coach Donald Asher explains that, given the opportunity to hire someone without posting a job, he’d do that 100% of the time. I’d have to agree. As the President of Great Resumes Fast, I’ve often searched for executive assistants, VAs, or had other positions come available as my team has grown—and I can tell you the response from posting a position online is overwhelming! There’s no way I can wade through all the responses I receive. Now I go through word-of-mouth referrals first. In fact, I first ask my husband, family, and friends if they know of anyone. When I need a new executive resume writer to help me meet the demands of growth within my company, I reach out to my current staff of writers and trusted colleagues and ask them for referrals.

Before I started Great Resumes Fast, the hidden job market was how I found a position as the HR manager of an international Fortune 500 company. Someone my dad worked with was networking with a client—and they had a need for an HR manager. The general manager of the company asked his colleague if he knew of anyone, and he said he’d ask around. He came straight to my dad and said, “Hey, isn’t your daughter in HR?” And that’s how I found that position—which eventually led me to starting my own company more than six years ago.

It’s not just about word-of-mouth referrals—and I’m not the only one who’s experienced success with the hidden job market. ABC News reports that 80% of positions are filled through referrals! You can read more about their report in this article.

Astonishing? I think so! Needless to say, if you’re being tight-lipped about being unemployed or job searching, now may be the time to “spill the beans”. You certainly wouldn’t want to be out of work for a year like this executive was before he shared with his golfing buddies that he was searching.  You never know what may be out there; and the fact is, you won’t know if you don’t ask!

That brings me to my next point … so now that you know job boards shouldn’t be your #1 go-to job search method—and you’re now aware that the hidden job market is massive (75%-85% of positions), and that 80% of positions are filled through referrals … where do you go from here?

Here are some methods for finding a position; I’ll be elaborating further on these later in my series: Hope for Your Job Search.

Informational Interviewing – What is it and how to leverage it in your job search. If you can’t wait for the article, check out this related article published on LinkedIn.

Cold Calling – It’s not just for telemarketers; and using this method is actually a very effective job search strategy. I’ll be elaborating on it more in the series, but here’s some information to get you started.

Networking – Those word-of-mouth referrals I discussed earlier. I’ll be sharing tips and how-to’s on networking your way to a new position.

Direct mail can be an extremely successful job search method. I’ve experienced success with this method and have researched its use—including statistics that state utilizing direct mail results in 80% job placement in 90 days or less. I’ll be discussing how to use this method as well.

Value proposition letters go hand-in-hand with direct mail. They’re short, compelling letters written to the decision maker—packed with influential facts and figures that show the employer exactly how you would add value to their team. You can read more about value proposition letters and see an example here.

And several more articles to follow, I’m sure …

Do you have questions about certain job search methods? I’d love to hear from you—and possibly answer them in an upcoming article. Feel free to post them below.

In the meantime, let’s kick off the networking piece of your job search right now! You can send me an invitation to connect on LinkedIn here, and follow me on Twitter here.

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About the author

Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast

Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.

What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.

You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!

I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!

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