Diana’s Big Move: The job applications continue…

Hi, Diana again. I checked in a little while ago about the beginning of my job search. I thought it might be time for an update and a few more insider tidbits.


What to do when you're waiting...and waiting... (Photo: Paul Downey, Flickr/Creative Commons)

I have sadly little to report: a few false starts, and one tiny spark of a lead that I hope to turn into a real possibility. I’m trying my best not to let my anxiety get to the best of me, and trying not to check my email fifteen times an hour (…I wish I were kidding). But, never fear. Let’s be proactive:

Keep the applications going and be patient.

It’s easy to feel burnt out when you spend hours on applications and you don’t receive positive feedback. Find your inner Dory, and just keep swimming. Don’t focus on the number of applications you’ve sent out, or the rejection letters (or lack thereof) that you’ve received. All you need is for one employer to think you’re a good fit.

While we’re on the subject of feedback: as tempting as it may be, in most cases you should refrain from following up on your resume. You’ve submitted your application, so the organization knows you’re interested; your cover letter and resume indicate your enthusiasm and skill set. One exception to this is if you have a substantial addition to make to your file. If you’ve applied to a job where Swahili is a requirement, and you’ve since become fluent, by all means, let the hiring committee know. (This tidbit comes to you from our very own HR team; for more insight, check out IdealistHR.org.)

Learn from your (mis)steps.

If you’re not sure about the content, tone, or general approach of your application materials, have a friend or colleague look everything over. As much as it may feel like one, your job search is not a cumulative exercise. The organization you contact today doesn’t know about the spelling error you missed on the last resume you sent out, or about the “joke” that didn’t go over so well in a past interview. Take your past stumbles and learn from them.

Take notes.

Every week, we receive a few calls from panicked job seekers who’ve finally landed an interview, only to realize they have no idea which position they’re being considered for. Don’t let yourself get ambushed – and please feel free to use this little chart I’ve made for myself:

Network. No, really, do it.

I rolled my eyes as much as the next person when it came to networking. But that lead that I mentioned? It came from a connection. I’m sending out applications and letters and resumes, too, of course. But you never know where your dream job will come from. We have so many great ideas on networking already, so I’ll leave you to peruse our resources. Suffice it to say, whether it be via social media, in person, or by carrier pigeon, networking: do it.


This is a struggle for me, too. Some of you have already reached out with your personal stories and experiences. Please keep these coming! If there are specific topics that you’d like Idealist to cover or if you have a never-fail tip, let us know. Drop me a line here in the comments or at diana [at] idealist [dot] org.

Liked this post? Here are others you might enjoy:

Five New Year’s resolutions for job seekers

Career Corner: Taking my own advice

Getting your career search on track

Diana’s Big Move: The job search  begins

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Comments (17)

  1. Daniel Schutzsmith writes:
    April 11, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Keep it up! I always tell folks that I mentor that you’ll find the job that is right for you at that moment in your life. Sounds like you’ve got a good plan to ensure that happens!

  2. shaina writes:
    April 11, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    This all sounds too familiar. There came a time when I was ready to quit but I realized I can’t give up just yet. Instead, I decided to go back to the drawing board. I realized that my resume is getting me an interview but I am not making it past that. I started practicing interviewing techniques. Of course there’s the “tell me about yourself” and “why do you want this job?” questions that are always daunting but are so important.

    Diana, all the best on your job search! I am rooting for you.

  3. Lauren writes:
    April 11, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Oh, I feel you. Since I’m wanting to change paths, I’m applying for non-profit jobs as well as media jobs. I keep hearing back from media jobs, but not from the non-profit jobs, so I’m finding that frustrating. And then I’ll interview for a media job and then never hear anything! So there’s something I’m doing (or not doing) at the interview level.

  4. Kristin writes:
    April 11, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    Thank you for your post. I’m also job searching and am finding it frustrating to hear nothing back after submitting so many applications. Your tips are very helpful. I actually found a typo on the last resume I sent out and your advice makes so much sense! – to learn from it and move on. I’m always encouraged when I read of others’ perseverance in this job market. Thanks for sharing yours.

  5. Lauren writes:
    April 12, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Thank you so much for this post. It’s a nice reminder that I’m not alone in this sometimes depressing world of job hunting. It can be strangely tougher when you are currently employed (how many times have I heard from unemployed friends, “You should be lucky you have a job and not complain about your job search!”), but, we “just keep swimming.” Thank you for the encouraging, uplifting and helpful post! And best of luck to you in your own search.

  6. ash writes:
    April 13, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Nice article, sums up what I have been doing so far, I have both B.S and M.A, I have been networking and contacting people I know all the time, I keep talking to them so they don’t forget about me, nothing has materialized so far.
    Gone to more than one career advisor to fine tune my CV (it got to be it for sure), made the changes that made sense, so far nothing happened.
    So what is the problem, one says? easy, a long career gap that was not filled because I had an immigration application pending, as a law abiding person, I could not go to school or work during that gap period until the application was approved. Thankfully, I can do both now as I finally got my Green Card.
    Would I be asked about that gap, not really, the application is very likely being tossed away and deleted, that is more time efficient for the employers than asking me about it.
    I managed to get an interview through a lead and half the questions were about it, did the honest thing and responded. I managed to contact a hiring manager (bypassing the HR filters), and she asked me the same questions, I explained in details and she appreciated the honesty, so far nothing has materialized.
    So what is the alternative? I have done my homework about this and the advice I got is not to point it out in my Cover Letter, I was told that would make it the highlight of the letter which defeats the purpose. Anyway, moral of the story, don’t use HR-oriented applications if you have gaps, you will not b looked at, just find a way around them, that is my experience.

    Still unemployed and looking (for now).

  7. ukash writes:
    April 14, 2012 at 6:09 am

    Aw, this was a really nice post. In concept I wish to put in writing like this moreover – taking time and actual effort to make a very good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and not at all appear to get one thing done.ukash

  8. Taking A Break writes:
    April 14, 2012 at 11:43 am

    It was very timely that I read this. I have become burned out from the job search that has resulted in nothing but lost time for me. I envy those of you who are at least getting the interviews. Despite having tons of people review my resume and indicate that it looks great, I still don’t get any calls. Fortunately, I am currently employed and the same thing happened during the last search – the one interview I got I got the job, but it sure is hard to get anyone to even call you. Makes you feel your whole effort is a waste, because you know that that resume that you worked on for 5 hours the night before wasn’t even looked at and it makes you wonder why you are even wasting your time.

    After spending weekends and nights on the computer fine-tuning my writing samples, cover letters and resumes, I have decided to take a pause because it is just depressing and I am losing precious time with my family. Perhaps after a few weeks, I will feel ready to go again. At the very least, I will have spent my time doing something more productive and that refreshes me.

    Good luck to all. May you get that dream job you are looking for!

  9. SR writes:
    April 15, 2012 at 11:03 am

    My problem is not the interview. I’m with those but the problem is what happens when I started working. I’ve been told twice in the past year that I was going to be let go because they did not have the staff or time to train me. Hmm, let me see you interviewed 3 times for 1 position and you expected me to know how your companys runs on day 1.

  10. SLG writes:
    April 16, 2012 at 10:12 am

    Chin up! And thanks for all the great advice! It’s just nice to feel like we’re all in this together. Try not to worry – when I first moved to New York to get into non-profits it took me a month to get my first interviews. And that was when the economy was good. It is very frustrating, but keep on trucking through!

  11. Diana Hsu writes:
    April 16, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Thanks for reading, everyone! It’s great to hear peoples’ past experiences – good and bad, and as my moving date draws closer, it’s definitely nice to get encouragement.

    I just wanted to pop in to share (with permission) a blog post that I found on the LinkedIn group called “Non Profit & Philanthropy – Job Seeking Board.” The direct link is: https://sites.google.com/site/yescassample/home/career-mentoring/istartmonday?goback=%2Egde_1227037_member_104691186

    Yvette has some pretty good tips on landing a job – namely, turning your weaknesses into an asset. Makes me want to rethink my cover letter strategy.

    Hopefully, I’ll have an interview (and an update!) soon. Good luck to anyone else job searching!

  12. ash writes:
    April 16, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Thanks for sharing the above link, I am having some issues contacting organizations as a volunteer, it is becoming very hard to get through the electronic wall, either overlooked due to volume or simply land in the spam folder. I use my college e-mail address to minimize that but it is not working so far.

  13. Cindy writes:
    April 17, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Wow! Am I glad I logged on today. This was a very timely post for me as well. I graduated with an MBA in December and I’ve been trying a little bit of everything: networking, online applications, resumes/cover letters and even volunteering with some of the professinal organizations I joined to “showcase” my skills. In almost 5 monhts I’ve had 4 phone interviews and 2 actual interviews, no offers. Luckily, I am employed but as Lauren said, it can be somewhat harder because well-meaning people don’t understand the desire to move on and think we should be happy that we’re employed.

    I just wanted to give a shout out to “Taking a Break” — A few months ago I also took a break from the job search because I had gotten so depressed I could barely get out of bed and was crying over everything. I found the break to be very good for me and I hope it will be for you as well. I’m starting to feel the “burn out” coming out again so I booked a vacation with my husband — nothing fancy, but at least I can stop checking my emails 15-25 times an hour for a while and take a breather.

    Good luck to everyone on their job search. As my friends all tell me — everything happens for a reason and when I do finally get a job it will be right for me!

  14. Katy Kelly writes:
    April 17, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Thank you for the reminder that it only takes one employer to think I am a good fit. It is a chaotic and well-qualified pool out there. I am in the midst of looking for an internship outside my current state. I have never experienced so much rejection or non-response in all my career (15 years in the workforce). It’s good to know I am not alone and “to keep on swimming.”

  15. salena writes:
    April 19, 2012 at 11:43 am

    I’ve been “underemployed” now for about 7 months after relocating without a job. Man, its tough. The past few times I have moved it has been for service positions in AmeriCorps which I have always considered excellent ways to learn about the local community (for me, that seems to be a typical requirement for the job). Before my current position I spent time networking and attending local nonprofit events, but I’m employed at a job I don’t like, which drains my energy even more and my employment search is basically down to submitting applications after work. I’ve been the 2nd choice for a few jobs (always sucks when they tell you that, especially when they go with someone internal, which is usually the best way to go anyway) otherwise, some interviews and a lot of disappointment. The plus side, I love this place! Best move ever! I just need a job to round it out. I don’t think I would be as optimistic about my job search if I wasn’t living somewhere I really wanted to be.

    Also, I want to second the idea of really making sure you are a good fit. I started out applying to lots of jobs that I simply met the qualifications for. Now I am very selective about the positions that I apply for because of the energy it takes to apply in the first place. Sadly, the disappointment has been greater since I started being more selective.

    Anyway, my real reason for posting is to comment on volunteering. The Twin Cities YNPN had this post the other day about a reality check for volunteering your way to a job. Volunteering sounds great in theory but I feel like when it is talked about it is as a “great way” to get employed, when really it’s just “a way.”


  16. Wiggles writes:
    April 19, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    As they say in showbiz, “break a leg” Diana. Great post and so very true. Online applications is just another way to weed out candidates, so the best thing you can do is be patient. I’ve been unemployed for about 5 months now after returning to the states. Sent countless resumes, attended 2 interviews and offered 1 so far. I consider myself rather lucky, but I still have no job – I really hope it all goes well since we need to pay rent soon.

    If there’s any tips I have, is to painstakingly custom tailor the cover letter and resume to every job you apply to, occasionally inserting keywords or job requirements the employer includes in the job description. Don’t lie, back it up with real world experiences. I have sent 1 page to 2 page resumes. My last 2 interviews were hooked on my 2 page resumes. I am making a complete change in career, not the wisest idea right now, but I’m following my dream – now or never.

    As for the interviews, I had 1 phone and 1 walk in. I generally had very good responses during both interviews. However, I believe that breaking the ice and talking about yourself should be embraced. I mentioned I surfed and one of the interviewers did too. So we spoke briefly about his VW bus and how the waves are different in the East Coast. We kept the conversation brief exchanging stories, but respected the timeframe of the interview. I think it’s vital to strike conversation and find something the interviewer might enjoy talking about. If the interview is in an office with pictures or degrees hanging about, it means the person is proud to show off his/her family or PhD. I scan the room to ask a simple non-invasive questions. I keep the conversation light and let the interviewer know I am as just impressed with the interviewer’s involvement with the company as they should be impressed with my background.

    My 2 cents. In my anxiety, it helps for me to be able to break the ice and at the very least introduce myself and let them know who I am and why I’m there.

  17. Susan writes:
    April 30, 2012 at 11:17 am

    It is important to remember that the economy is not so good out there and employers are cutting their costs. It is even worse for NGOs because people are not donating like they used to. I have the feeling that most of you looking for work have great qualifications and professional resumes. The market is very competitive so keep your heads up, don’t give up and try real hard to remain strong. Actually, I have been an “unemployed” human being for so long, I can’t remember. I was forced into being creative and starting my own businesses (three) to try to keep food on the table. Try running businesses and looking for some type of real and stable income? whew. However, I am overseas and apply from here to the states so one day I can go back home.
    I was stateside for six months the last time to find out what I could do from there. I decided to just walk into places, talk and then ask. I landed a three month temporary job! It really helped me with my self-esteem. So maybe you guys should try that? I acted like it was not “important” for me to work, and that I was bored and wanted to do something.
    This seemed to take the pressure off of the employers and relax. I don’t know, but it worked! So hang in there and start walking…even though they say no calls…go in and put that smile on your face.

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