Matthew Herek recently shared an interesting metaphor:  Job searches are like crock pots…slow and simmering rather than a fast zap from the microwave. His article, Surviving a Crock Pot Job Search When You Have a Microwave Personality is a must read if only to bring some humor to the long, drawn out job searches of today.  He suggests the following 4 tips:

Understand your sphere of influence and go with it.

Many times you have no influence over the hiring process and sometimes you do.  Yet, even when you do have some control, it is a delicate balance of staying in touch but not turning into a pest.  Pests get moved to the “list.”  You know the “list.”  It’s the one that contains people who continually apply to jobs and do not qualify because 1) they don’t have the required skills, or 2) they are inept at showing their qualifications.  It contains those who continue to call or email when they have been told that the system will notify them when applications have been reviewed.  I suggest you pay particular close attention to any job seeker instructions listed on a recruitment notice.  If it says “do not call,” then do not call!  Recruiters often get hundreds or more of applications and can get bogged down when they have to field phone calls.

If you aren’t quite in control of the process, keep applying.  You will eventually find a job where you do have control.  Expend your energy toward that one.

Figure out who is managing the recruiting process. 

While it can be difficult, especially when dealing with a large corporation or government agency, it does help to reach out to the right person.  So do your research.  Use LinkedIn to identify who the hiring manager is and ask to connect.  Try calling the receptionist or human resources office.  Network with people you know to see if they are connected with someone in the company.  J.T. O’Donnell, CEO of Careerealism, offers other useful suggestions including using Google alerts and creating a new network of people working in a similar role at the company.  Just remember that all contact with a company counts!  From the receptionist to the human resources manager, all contact can and should be consider as part of your interview.

Assume nothing in the job hunt and application process. 

If you haven’t heard back does that mean they hired someone else?  Maybe…maybe not.  It could mean they are not finished reviewing candidates or that someone went on vacation and the process is on hold or slowed down.  Don’t automatically assume you are at the top of the list (because you have a friend who knows the hiring manager) or that you are out of the running if you haven’t heard back.

Look at the job posting for clues.  Some companies outline their follow up process in vacancy notice; others send interim letters or post an online update.  The most important this is to not put all your eggs into one basket and…

Keep moving your search ahead

Do not depend on one application for which your hopes are really set on.  Keep applying!  Keep networking!  Keep upgrading your skills and reviewing your resume!  Take a drive through a business park in your area and look at the small companies.  You might be surprised at what is there, see a posting, or end up in a conversation that leads to a job.

Have you had an assumption in the past about an application that turned out totally opposite of what you were thinking?