10 Ways to Build Momentum in Your Job Search

Have you ever had a time in your life when you’re working harder than ever, but not seeing any results? 

Some have experienced this with weight loss, sports, and academics. Others with growing a business, improving a relationship, or getting that first sale. 

This is a very common feeling when looking for a job. 

Perhaps you’re spending HOURS on all of the job boards. You have been applying and applying. Maybe you have even posted on your LinkedIn status that you’re looking for work. 

But nothing seems to be happening. 

In other times, the world has seemed overflowing with opportunity. Has something changed? Is it the industry? Is it you? 

Obviously, there could be a number of factors at play here, but I would argue that there is one that is most important. Also, it’s something you have quite a bit of control over: 

You need to build momentum. 

Going from jobless (or in the wrong job) to landing a more meaningful position is a huge leap. Ultimately, you do not have full control over whether you get hired or not. But you can directly influence your momentum. 

Job boards are helpful for getting an idea of some of the available opportunities, but they are not helpful when it comes to building momentum because you have zero control over what happens after you apply. 

So how do you build momentum?

Here are 10 ways to build momentum in your job search:  

  1. Tap into your existing network. 

    You probably know people who have contacts in the industry. Call them! Catch up and chat with them about what types of positions you’re exploring. Ask them who you should speak with and if they’d be willing to connect you. Get yourself on the radar! As a recruiter, many of my placements happen as a result of someone being referred to me. You want to be top of mind in your network for those referrals!

  2. Find an industry event and show up IN PERSON. 

    This is the most overlooked job search strategy in my opinion. Every industry has trade shows and events. Most decision-makers go to these events specifically to meet new people! Often there are friendly situations (happy hours, meals, socials, etc.) where you can get to know key people that know who’s hiring in the industry. Show up! Meet people! Tell them you’re looking and ask them who you should be sure to speak with. These events often do cost money in travel and registration, but are completely worth it in my opinion. 

  3. Job Shadow. 

    When you identify people who work in the area that you’d like to find a job, don’t just ask them to give you a job. You have not built the momentum/trust/credibility yet to do that! Instead, ask them if you can shadow them for the day or grab coffee (see #7 below). Not only are they likely to take you along with them for the day, but they will also probably introduce you to other key people in the industry. Added bonus: you’ll get a good idea of whether or not you like the career by living it for a day. 

  4. LinkedIn. 

    Most recruiters are on LinkedIn every day. Are they finding you? Make sure that you have optimized your profile and that you are actively liking/sharing/commenting in your industry. Here is a free e-book with several helpful LinkedIn tips. 

  5. Twitter. 

    Right now, there is a conversation happening about your desired industry by influential people who work there. It’s happening on Twitter. YOU can be a central part of the conversation if you jump in and engage in an authentic way. Again, YOU ARE NOT ON THERE TO ASK FOR A JOB. You are there to build a relationship with people in that industry, and to learn. After you’ve built rapport, you can follow the advice in #1 above. Check out what Cade Christensen recently did on Twitter that built him some SERIOUS job search momentum. 

  6. Create Content. 

    Similar to the Twitter video you just watched in #5, social media gives us all the opportunity to create content. Depending on your style, this could be writing, visuals (photos, infographics, etc.) audio (podcasts, etc.), or video. You could either authentically document your journey, like Cade did above, or research an area of the industry and share what you’re learning. I wanted to learn about blockchain, so I did a 10 episode podcast and blog series about it. I knew nothing about the topic when I started, but my efforts to share what I was learning helped position me as a sort of leader on the topic. You can do the same for your desired career field. 

  7. “Coffee Chats”. 

    This in quotes because it doesn’t have to be coffee. The point here is to ask for a few minutes of someone’s time to learn ABOUT THEM AND WHAT THEY DO (not to talk about your job search struggles). This could be a meal, a coffee, a cocktail, a round of golf, etc, but spend some time talking to people individually. You’ll be amazed at how many people are glad to meet up with you, and the kinds of results you can get from deepening these relationships. 

  8. Internship. 

    I can hear you thinking “internships are for students and I’m not a student”. DON’T OVERLOOK THIS OPTION. Internships can be a great way to build momentum in your career search whether you are a student or graduate. They likely don’t pay as much as a full time position, and you’ll be back looking for a job when it’s over if they don’t extend a full time offer. However, this is the most low-risk option a company has to give you a shot. From their perspective, they are getting you (relatively) cheap with no obligation to keep you on the payroll if you don’t perform. If you are struggling to gain momentum in a new field, but are confident you can pick it up quickly, this could be a great option for you to get your shot.  

  9. Freelance. 

    Freelancing is becoming much more common. This could mean picking up a little work that you complete on nights/weekends while working elsewhere. Or it could mean a temporary full-time assignment. Similar to internships (see #8), this creates a low risk way for you and an employer to “try each other out”. You get paid for a very specific deliverable. There is still the uncertainty of sustained work, but this could be a worthwhile risk to take your career in the direction you want to go. 

  10. Seek Out a Recruiter or Placement Specialist. 

    There are people, like me, whose job it is to maintain relationships with both hiring agribusinesses and talented prospects. We get to see who’s hiring, and can often be very helpful when it comes to where to find opportunities and ways to gain momentum in the job search. Depending on who you speak with, make sure you understand how they make money to understand their motivations for working with you. In my case, I want to have relationships with talented and ambitious people so that when one of my clients gives me a search I know exactly who to call. Others have an obligation to recruiting just for their employer or actually charge for services like personal branding, resume writing, interview training, etc. All can be useful resources, just make sure you know where it’s all leading. 

I hope at least one of these resonates with you. 

The key to momentum is to start small and act consistently over time. The entire point is that large leaps forward (like finding your dream job) rarely happen without taking the time to build this momentum. 

Even if you’re not desperately seeking your next career just yet, now is a great time to start building your momentum slowly. 

Which one of the 10 are you most likely to try?  

Tim Hammerich

Tim is a strategic communications consultant, founder of AgGrad, and the host of the "Future of Agriculture" podcast. Originally from California, he is now based out of Boise, Idaho.