What to Do When the Phone Doesn't Ring

By Frank Traditi

It happens to all of us.

The time when your job search comes to a screeching halt. All of your prospects seem to dry up and blow away. Email messages taper off and the phone just doesn't ring back from all the calls you made.

It can be a frightening experience when marketing yourself in your job search campaign. You start to question your tactics, what you said or did not say, or just think about giving up entirely. The thought of selling everything and going to live in a cabin in the woods suddenly sounds like a wonderful idea.

What's going on here?

Even when you have been diligent about reaching out to your network, meeting new people, contacting potential employers, and getting the word out about your career search, some factors are out of your control. Here are a few:

Current economic situation - this can be either a real life situation or an excuse. Some companies see adding headcount as an expense rather than an investment. They analyze the costs of hiring and re-think their position. On the other hand, it can be a brush off to avoid making a decision. If times are bad, why shouldn't your prospects invest in making their business better by hiring the right people?

Going under - some businesses are just not prepared to handle the current situation. They are doing everything just to stay alive.

Changing priorities - what was number one on the list yesterday, dropped to number 20, 30 or lower. Unfortunate for you, but a reality in business.

Afraid to make a decision - with all of the recent news on poor management of finances and corporate misbehaving, it's a wonder anyone would want to step out and risk making a hiring decision. They are afraid of their own shadows.

It's summer - yes folks, when summer comes, people think more about having fun than doing business. Family, friends, and time off take priority.

Does the job search have to stop for you? Absolutely not. Can you do things that will get the phone to ring and to increase activity in your job search? You sure can. Can you still initiate and/or continue your networking efforts during this time? You bet. It takes some discipline on your part and commitment to stick with it. Here are a few things you can do to beat the dreaded "Maytag Man" syndrome:

Contact five people with whom you've been out of touch
Checking in with colleagues you may have lost contact with over the past several months, or even years, can open up some wonderful new doors. Don't feel ashamed because you haven't talked with them in a while. You'll be surprised how excited they are to hear from you. Let them know what you're up to in your career. They might have some ideas for you.

Find and send 8-10 articles of interest for your job prospects
Research articles on the Internet or print media that would help your job prospects' businesses prosper. Everyone wants to know how to do business better and get more clients. Help them out by being a library of business knowledge. Connect with them on a completely new level. Visualize yourself already working for the company.

Deliver a presentation at a local association meeting
Organizations and associations are at a time of year where they might be looking for presenters. Pick a topic you know and love to discuss and propose a presentation to an organization that appeals to you. Doors may open to hiring managers in the audience or influential people who see you as an expert.

Have lunch with one new center of influence each week
Take the time to invite a mover and shaker to lunch. Ask about their business and tell them how you are progressing. You just might get new ideas, contacts and job opportunities.

Attend summertime events sponsored by chambers and other local organizations
Your local chamber of commerce and other organizations are throwing parties to gather people in a social and fun setting. Check them out and go. You'll have fun and gain a chance to meet new people in a non-business setting.

Hold a "board meeting" with your trusted advisors
Do you have a small group of people that don't have a problem giving you feedback? Take your "advisory board" out for a coffee or lunch. Talk to them about your job search, your prospects and challenges. Ask each of them to come to the meeting with at least one good idea to help you through this tough time.

Focus on getting new contacts - not just getting a job
Stop worrying about trying to get a job from each and every person you encounter. Instead, take the approach that you want them to be in your network. Be an information provider to them. Keep them in the loop on new business ideas. When the time is right for them to help you, you'll know. In the meantime, keep them informed.

Having enough activity every day keeps your mind free from the frustration of the phone not ringing. At the same time, you are creating enough momentum in your job search increasing the odds of getting a call back. Fill the time spent waiting for the phone to ring with doing the right things to get it to ring off the hook.

Here's to that ringing in your ear.

Copyright © 2005, Frank Traditi