Breaking Through a Job Search Plateau

Has your job search hit a stand still?
Have you been sending out your resume and getting little to no response?
Have your job interviews been far and few between with no feedback from the employer?

You’re stuck and there seems to be no hope in sight! That’s exactly how it can feel when you hit a job search plateau. You’ve lost traction and just can’t seem to get back on track. All your progress has come to a grinding halt. How frustrating!

You’re not alone in your experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an unemployed individual who decided to give up and leave the labor force spent an average of 21 weeks trying to find a job. These individuals hit a plateau and instead of breaking through to success they just gave up!

You see, most people think of plateaus as a setback, but they’re not! Typically, it means you’ve stopped making progress. It doesn’t mean you’ve gone backwards. Many people seeking to lose weight hit plateaus. It doesn’t mean they’re gaining weight. It usually means their body has adapted to their current changes and they need to do something different. If they continue doing what they’ve been doing they won’t see the results they want.

If you’ve spent some time looking for a job and haven’t seen results, see it as an opportunity to focus your attention and evaluate your current condition. Don’t see it as a setback. Realize your efforts so far have not been in vain.

The 3-steps outlined below will build on your recent efforts helping you break through your job search plateau to achieve success:

1.  Perform a Self-Evaluation – Ask yourself the following questions and honestly answer them.

  • Do the results I’m getting accurately reflect the amount of effort I’ve put forward?

Studies show the average job seeker spends about 5 hours a week looking for a job. That’s right, a week, not a day. Looking for a job is a full-time job. Reflect back over this period of time and evaluate how you’ve spent your time. Write your thoughts down. Be brutally honest with yourself, have you spent more time on Facebook then on critical job search tasks?

  • Do you have a plan or are you just winging it?

Establishing a job search plan will assist in keeping you focused and allow you to make better use of your time. Set up a monthly, weekly, and daily schedule to keep you focused.

Be intentional, establish specific goals like 2 hours a day will be devoted to networking, send out 25 resumes this week, perform 5 follow up calls, etc. Write them down! You can’t measure what you don’t track.

2. Review Your Resume – It’s your marketing brochure.

It’s not a biography of your life’s work history! It’s your marketing brochure used to sell your skills to potential employers. The goal of your resume is to get you to the next step in the job search process, which is the interview.

  • Read your resume and then ask yourself, “Would you hire you?” “Would you call yourself for the interview?”

Have family and friends read your resume. Tell them to be honest and give you critical feedback.

  • Does it accurately reflect your skills, abilities, accomplishments, and strengths?
  • Is it generic or specific to the particular job opening for which you’re applying?

One size does not fit all in the resume world. You need to target each of your resumes to the specific job using keywords and highlights of skills mentioned in the announcement.

3. Mix Up Your Job Search Strategy – Add Variety.

Too many people I talk to are stuck in the send out and wait method of looking for a job. That is, they find an opening online or in the newspaper, submit their resume, and then wait for something to happen.  The fact is this method has a low percentage of success, 80% of all job openings are filled without advertising!

The people that achieve job search success are those who don’t wait,
but go out and make things happen! ~ CCJ

Don’t focus on just one method (review step #1). An effective plan incorporates a variety of tools and resources to put you out there.

My first suggestion to people is, “Tell everyone you know that you’re looking for a job.” Print out some business cards and pass them out to family, friends, and anyone else who’ll take one. No need to get fancy just put your basic contact info on them and hand them out.  The key is getting out there and getting noticed. It’s called networking!

If you’re strictly applying online then take charge of your job search and be proactive. Dan Miller, in his book “48-Days to the Work You Love” outlines 3-Critical Steps to cracking the code to the hidden 80% of unadvertised jobs. It all starts with targeting 30 to 40 companies.

  1. Send a letter of introduction to each company.
  2. Send your cover letter and resume 1 week after your introduction letter.
  3. Call to follow up.

Utilize some of the social media tools available like Facebook and LinkedIn. Create a free profile at LinkedIn and start building your network of contacts. Create a free fan page at Facebook and make it your version of an online resume.

Breaking out of a job search plateau demands a well thought out plan of action and an intense level of commitment. Following the 3-steps mentioned above will keep you focused, prevent you from relying on a single strategy, and yield the results you’ve been lacking.

Question: What steps have you taken to break out of a job search plateau? You can leave a comment below -


  1. Kevin says

    I’ve expanded the number of job sites where I’ve registered. I’ve asked a friend who operates a successful business to distribute my resume.That resume has been revised several times. On Linkedin, I’ve expanded the number of contacts. The results: two rejection letters this week. Last week, at a job interview for an entry level convenience store job, the interview said right away that he was concerned that my resume showed too much experience at a higher level professional job to make me useful at the store. I’ve also encountered a job interviewer who said he recognized me from another job: that’s the sort of connection that’s supposed to get you hired, but nothing came from it. It’s clear that there are just some people who regardless of skills or experience or previous work performance, are not employable in the 21st century. and it’s time for so-called career coaches to admit that.

    • says


      Thank you for your feedback! The job search process is not easy as you yourself have commented about – it’s a battlefield.

      Be encouraged as you’re getting results, not quite the results you want, but you are networking with your immediate circle of influence. You’ve interviewed for at least one position.

      A comment about applying for entry-level positions – if you have a lot of experience and appear to be “Over Qualified” it is a red-flag to employers. Try to eliminate the over-qualification bullets and limit your experience to what will get you in at the entry-level…target your resume to the position!

      I don’t agree with your statement that some people are “not employable in the 21st century.” It’s not accurate. Many things have changed in the current job market, but you’re not unemployable. Average times to find a job have increased from approx 4 weeks to 9 months.

      Don’t give up – feel free to contact me with any questions.

      Career Coach Jeff

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