Careers advice

How to escape a job hunting dead end

Keep at it!

Last updated: 29 April 2024

Job hunting can stir up a strange mixture of emotions. At some points you might find yourself inspired and excited when you stumble across a great listing that sounds like your dream job. At others, you might be taking knocks to your confidence if you’ve been rejected from a role that you had your heart set on.

If the process goes on longer than you’d hoped, you might find yourself feeling as if you’ve hit a dead end, and staying motivated to stay in the hunt is difficult. This is totally normal – job hunting can be tough, and you need to try not to put too much pressure on yourself during this process.

But what can you do to get out of a job hunting rut? Here are some of our top tips.

1. Don’t rely on one tactic

Okay, so what do we mean by tactic here? Well, the most common job hunting tactic these days is to use online job sites, like Trade Me Jobs and search amongst the advertised roles to find one that fits your criteria. You’ll do a lot of this, and it’s definitely the way that most people find jobs today. So,don’t give up on this avenue.

However, it’s not the only route you can explore. There are other ways that you can speed up your job hunt, and take some of the work out of it. These include:

  • Setting up email alerts: Once you’ve searched for a role on Trade Me Jobs, you can select the “Save this search” to set up email alerts. This means you can get notifications directly to your inbox whenever a role that matches your filters is listed.
  • Create an online profile: You can also create a Trade Me Jobs Profile that allows employers to find you and approach you with opportunities they think you might be a good fit for. Like email alerts, this is a form of passive job hunting that takes a lot of the legwork out of the process.
  • Talk to your network: We all know that Aotearoa is a small place, meaning that your professional network can often be a useful resource when it comes to hunting for jobs. This assistance can come in the form of putting you in touch with employers who are hiring, or even helping you to prepare for interviews, if they know the company you’ve applied to.

Your network can be an invaluable resource when job hunting.

2. Go for quality over quantity

You should approach job hunting as if it’s a job. What does this look like? Well, for a start, set goals, timelines and, perhaps most importantly, take breaks.

We’ve all been there, whether at school, uni or in previous jobs, where we’ve tried to push through on a piece of work in order to get it completed, even if this means the quality of the output decreases.

Taking this attitude into a job hunt can quickly become a very vicious cycle. If you simply try to apply for jobs for hours on end, without any type of strategy, or without giving yourself some time away from your screen, you’re going to start to submit poor applications. When these poor applications get rejected, you’ll feel more pressure to do more job hunting, the applications get worse again, and the cycle repeats.

It’s actually a much healthier, and more successful approach, to job hunt with a clear strategy in mind. Some things you could think about:

  • Target a certain number of applications per week: this could be per day, per week, or however you prefer to break it up. And our advice is to keep it on the lower end of what you think is doable, so you can take your time with the applications. This is likely to yield far better results than waking up every morning and thinking “I’m going to apply for as many jobs as I can find today”, before proceeding to type like a maniac for eight hours as you chug down black coffees.
  • Develop a process: again, this is all about improving the quality of the applications you submit. For example, when writing your cover letter, you might make a rule that you always take a break after you’ve finished the first draft, and then read it out loud before you submit. Reading things out loud is often a good way to spot typos, grammar mistakes or missing words, all of which can cost you dearly if they slip through the net.
  • Take breaks: we’ve mentioned this a couple of times already, but that’s because it’s really important, particularly if you’re already finding job hunting a struggle. Getting worried and frustrated are natural parts of job hunting, but just because they’re natural doesn’t mean they’re helpful. Don’t feel you have to stay glued to your laptop 24/7. Go out, meet friends, exercise, and then come back refreshed and ready to go.

3. Avoid basic mistakes

Humans are creatures of habit. This can be useful at times, but it also means we’re able to continue making the same mistakes over and over again, if no one corrects us. So, if you’re stuck in a job hunting doldrum, you might want to make sure you aren’t tripping over your own feet. Being self-critical isn’t easy, but take a fine tooth comb to every step in a typical job hunt, from cover letters to interviews, and analyse what you’ve been doing.

Not sure where to start? Check out our free Careers Advice articles, where you’ll find expert tips on everything from crafting a great NZ CV to negotiating your salary once you’ve been offered the job.

You'll make better job applications if you're taking breaks and looking after yourself.

4. Keep an eye on NZ’s job market

As we’ve all experienced over the last few years, the job market in Aotearoa can change quickly and dramatically, with different sectors’ fortunes rising and falling at times. While we very much hope that we aren’t going to experience anything quite like COVID-19 again, any time soon, some degree of variability is always to be expected.

Staying informed about NZ’s job market is useful both for spotting opportunities and for managing expectations when you’re job hunting. For example, if you read Trade Me Jobs’ quarterly Job Market Update, you’ll be able to learn intel like which industries have the greatest numbers of vacancies, where the highest paying jobs are, and which sectors are the most competitive. All of this can then feed back into your overall strategy.

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Al Hall
Al Hall

Al Hall is a regular contributor at Trade Me Jobs and Trade Me Property. He’s dedicated to helping people succeed in their aspirations to find their dream job and place to live.