Discouraged jobseekers are those people looking for a job who have not actively searched in the past four weeks.
They have almost given up on finding suitable work. Economists disagree on how many discouraged jobseekers are really there in the market but it is a structural foundational element of the unemployment numbers.
How do you avoid becoming a discouraged job seeker?
First, don’t be only a job seeker. It’s really important never to just sit looking for a job. You should always be working while you’re looking. That will help you both leverage your experience during salary or pay discussions but also help you psychologically. Abandon the idea of a full-time job search as a standalone activity. Job search is something you do while you do other things and
Second I would recommend that you stop looking for perfect. Interviewing is like dating. We all are better off with part of what we want instead of holding out for the perfect job or perfect person. Newsflash – there is no perfect anything.
You’re better off taking an average job while looking for a job. Yes, I will repeat that. Accept the good job and keep on looking for fabulous. Just quit the just ok job. That used to be career death. Now it’s the new normal. Ghosting is skyrocketing because new hires are receiving better offers between job offer acceptance and their first day. That’s why companies want new hires to start so fast and why they strive to reduce time to onboard very aggressively. This time is a big risk period for organizations.
I have worked with many clients who accepted a job offer that was merely ok, stayed for 5 months or maybe a year, and then got a much more suitable offer in terms of job title, salary and type of organization. They moved on and interestingly, their managers understood. That’s right. Their managers knew they had gotten lucky and that they didn’t have the right role open for them. So they wished them well and all was good.
Now, let me be clear. HR legitimately hates having to fill the job again and it’s a huge cost to the organization if this happens frequently. This type of churn has caused increased recruitment costs and turnover is a constant problem for the Talent function.
The new normal is there’s not the same expectation on staying at any job if you can upgrade. No more moral hazard. No more career fallout. Jobs are more like long term projects anyway. If you do a great job for 6 months, and get a much better offer, it may never come your way again.
Finally, to avoid becoming a discouraged job seeker, think of yourself as a worker not as a job seeker. As a worker, you work different gigs. Some gigs are full time, some are part time and some may be hourly. It shows hustle. If you have large organization experience, and need a project, smaller companies many times are having a terrible time filling their key jobs. They may be thrilled to have your expertise on staff in an hourly capacity for a quarter.
Thinking of yourself as a worker, not as your job title, is a very critical psychological change. It keeps you open to all different types of opportunities. It decreases the discouragement that people have when they feel like they’re being rejected constantly. Think of job search like dating. You don’t date 24 hours a day. No one could psychologically survive.
One of the most challenging scenarios job seekers face is moving to a new market, which tends to cause resistance by employers and slows down job searches. If you move to a market that is slow to accept newcomers, it’s critical to get working as fast as possible to obtain local references.
That’s when you go to the interim firms and agencies that deal with your functional expertise, and interview through them. I had a friend who was running into typical resistance to his resume because he had changed markets. I recommended focusing on interim projects and working through an agency. He had a job in a few weeks and was astounded at how much easier it was to get interviews through the agency than applying online.
New college graduates typically find themselves in that awkward period when they are trying to launch their careers in their field but don’t have much experience. Instead of food service or retail jobs, I recommend starting at any level – any level – at an organization in their field of study. Get in the door.
That means if there is an agency and you need to work interim in a role below your degree but they can start you asap, go. Just do it. Because once you are in the door, the chances of them loving you and trying to convert you go up exponentially. At every job I’ve managed Talent, we converted many people from agencies working on an interim basis.
You are the biggest impact on whether you become a discouraged job seeker. Not the market. Not Recruiters. You. Just you.