Are you suffering from Job Application and Burnout Syndrome?
Isn`t it sometimes hard to tell the difference whether you are fool-hardy on a mission-impossible job search or righteously tenacious to fight the odds in pursuit of an awesome executive opportunity? The fact is that the market is full of executives who are continuously spinning the job application wheel until they reach job search fatigue without getting anywhere. Are you perhaps one of them?
If so, you are suffering from what I call JABS, or the Job Application Burnout Syndrome. This article is shedding light on what it is and how to avoid or overcome JABS.
Three Ways to Avoid JABS
JABS happens when there is an insane amount of job applications on the one hand, and no results on the other hand, without understanding what is going on. JABS becomes worse if, without investigating the reasons, you find yourself in isolation in front of your computer in a vicious cycle of keeping applying, often with diminishing returns, and increasingly feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. It is an insane game, yet you keep on and on because the pressure is ever more increasing as you need a job to get money.
How can you avoid JABS?
From my experience of successfully getting many executives out of JABS, I want to share three ways with you:
- Uncover hidden jobs
As the power in the job market shifts towards companies, we will soon transition into a buyers market: An abundant and ever-growing pool of applicants, shrinking hiring budgets, fewer open jobs, and crushing competition among candidates. C-suite job seekers have an increasingly hard time finding jobs because the open job market is drying up.
For this reason, it's vital you learn about the Hidden Job Market and how to navigate it. Learn how to uncover hidden jobs and how to secure them because more than 90 percent of senior executive roles are hidden opportunities. Learn more about the executive search process.
A retired CEO was getting bored of retirement life and playing golf all the time. The same with a 63-year old sales executive earning 500K USD who wanted a vibrant executive life rather than retirement. Both found themselves in a dead-end job search after trying and trying without any progress. They learned how to crack the Hidden Job Market in a systematic way and ultimately found companies which hired them as CEO although most people had told them it can’t be done because they were too old.
In 2020, a CTO in his late forties was stuck in his job search for six months unable to secure CEO interviews, and turned to me for advice. His job search strategy was wrong. By shifting his focus from open to hidden jobs, he got the vital interviews he needed, and, four months later, got an offer for a CEO position at a mid-sized Hidden Champion.
- Learn to sell your brand because job search is a sales game
Few executives know their brand, let alone how to sell themselves, especially those who have worked for a long time in industry-leading companies in the IT, FMCG, and luxury industries - just to name a few - assuming that the market will eat them up if they decide to leave.
Take the examples of a global Oracle Top50 sales executive or a finance VP from Unilever who were both unemployed for more than one year because nobody wanted them. Remember, in this global recession we are in a buyer market, not a seller market. You must sell your brand proactively, or you are left behind.
I vividly remember one mid-forty expat CFO who was showing strong signs of JABS after more than 100 unsuccessful applications. While employers had always promoted his upwardly mobile expat career to the next level, now, for the first time in his life, and after the outbreak of the Corona pandemic, he was isolated in foreign territories and tasked to initiate a job search campaign himself. He failed miserably because he did not even know the basics of successful career marketing.
As soon as he graduated from a fast-track job search coaching program, the first company he interviewed with offered him a hidden job as Private Equity portfolio company CFO in his home country. A true home run.
- Reinvent yourself
How can you play a winnable game worth playing in your career and in your industry in this recession? Control your destiny or someone else will. A lighting technology industry executive contacted me in the search for a new challenge. He confessed:
“After twenty years in the same field, I know this game inside out, know all key people in this industry, and have progressed to global CEO, but I achieved my mission. My position is safe, but it is getting boring.”
To create new energy and momentum in his career, he realized he needed to innovate himself. He engaged me to reinvent his career. Today, he is the CEO of Europe’s most innovative solar technology company, with potential to impact the life of more than two billion people.
I had a recent coaching inquiry from a 51 year-old business unit director who had been over-achieving consistently over the last 5 years with compensation between one and two million USD. He confessed:
"It may be difficult to replicate my success. I am at the pinnacle of my career. Can you help me?"
Wow, that’s how a champion thinks. The ticket is never punched. Named Chairman Special Award recipient for the third time in a row, he immediately set the sails for innovating himself, for playing a bigger game in his next career move, possibly into industries completely new for him, thereby escaping a possible downward trend, and assuring sustainable growth and momentum in his own career despite an upcoming economic plight. What about you?
JABS is clearly avoidable. Interestingly, after securing a job, most JABS victims laugh at themselves in hindsight: How stupid! How could this have happened to me? Be aware: It is not the Corona Crisis, it is not the bad economy and definitively not companies being unresponsive.
The real problem lies in the lack of preparedness.
Unless you take action now, you will run into closed doors during a bigger recession. In Switzerland, which enjoys the lowest unemployment levels in Europe, there is one HR training course but only one that is in peak demand for more than half a year now: how to fire people. Expect the job market conditions to deteriorate.
We are in a world where the rate of change is so fast, one has to continuously re-tool oneself just to remain relevant.
Therefore, learn how to sell yourself proactively. Learn from the best. Move on. What you know is that your ego is not your amigo. Otherwise, JABS will overwhelm you. Don’t let that be you. Job search, despite all, is such an exciting and enjoyable journey, if you know how to play your game correctly.
About the author:
Rainer Maria Morita is an Advisor with Bluesteps Executive Career Services as well as an International Job Search Coach and Hidden Job Market Expert who helps executives find their perfect job - anywhere.