What to Do When Your Job Hunt Runs Out of Steam

During a long job hunt your search for employment can run out of steam. It may seem like you have contacted every conceivable employer. You can become increasingly frustrated and bored. If you’ve been in the job market for several months, it is time to analyze your job hunt to see how you can energize your search. Questions to consider are:

  • Are you targeting organizations currently hiring chemists?
  • Are your skills and experience a good fit for the type of employers and jobs you are targeting? Do you need to broaden the types of organizations and jobs you target?
  • Do your résumé and cover letter accurately describe your skills and accomplishments?

To deal with these questions, create multiple résumés each targeting a different industry that can use your skills. To discover which industries are most appropriate to target, talk to knowledgeable colleagues in these industries or contact an ACS career consultant (www.acs.org/careers). In particular, consider industries that are still hiring. For example, currently the oil industry appears likely to maintain R&D spending according to a December “Wall Street Journal” report. Read C&EN and business publications to learn about employment trends in various industries. Also, customize your résumé and cover letter for specific job openings with specific companies as you become aware of them.

As you prepare these new résumés, discuss them with ACS career consultants and knowledgeable colleagues to be sure you are using terminology appropriate to each industry and highlighting appropriate skills and aspects of your experience. Some of these contacts can advise you on specific industries and companies to target.

Armed with your new résumés, check out employment opportunities on the Internet. Most companies have career sections on their websites where they post employment opportunities. Check the websites of your target companies frequently. In addition to specialized job boards such as ACS Careers Jobs Database (www.acs.org/careers), check general job boards such as Monster.com and Yahoo! hotjobs. Focus on recently posted job openings because old job posts are usually already filled.

Another question to ask yourself is: Are you networking effectively to identify employment opportunities? Inform former coworkers and college and graduate school friends about your job hunt. Attend ACS local section meetings and other local professional society meetings to make new contacts.

Research new companies potentially coming to your area. Cities often offer companies incentives to move into an area hit by job losses and facility closures. For example, MPI Research, a privately held preclinical drug-testing company in Mattawan, Michigan, has announced plans to create 3,300 jobs over the next five years and move into laboratory and office space once used by Pfizer.

A long job hunt can take a psychological toll. Don’t become isolated from your family, friends or peers. Participate in inexpensive family and professional activities. Even a walk in a park at lunch time can recharge your psychological batteries. With your cell phone you can stay ready to take that employer’s phone call.


Full-time science writer John Borchardt is an ACS Career Consultant and certified Workshop Presenter. As an industrial chemist he holds 30 U.S. patents and written more than 130 peer-reviewed technical articles.

3 Responses to What to Do When Your Job Hunt Runs Out of Steam

  1. IGrewUp says:

    I agree that the length of the search has taken its toll on many! I decided to insert cheaper online coursework during my search as a pick me up and to not feel that I am losing steam!
    Best of luck to all!

  2. greg says:

    About.com choose 3 websites where job seekers got the best results –

    http://www.linkedin.com (networking for professionals)
    http://www.indeed.com (aggregated listings)
    http://www.realmatch.com (matches you to the perfect jobs)

    For those looking, good luck!

  3. chemist says:

    OK, Greg, I tried “http://www.realmatch.com” from Burlington, NJ, 40 miles radius. Got zero hits. My conclusion is that this is just another means of providing the information that is already out there.

    It takes more than luck!

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