Re-entering the job market can be both frightening and frustrating.

Share story

Q: At this point in my career, I am no longer interested in climbing the corporate ladder. I would prefer to find a stable support role with a predictable schedule. Because this isn’t possible with my current employer, I have decided to look elsewhere.

Having been out of the job market for many years, I decided to start by talking with a recruiter. Although he made big promises, I couldn’t get in touch with him when I tried to follow up. I don’t understand why he never got me any interviews.

Since the recruiter didn’t work out, I’m not sure what my next step should be. Do you have any advice?

A: Starting a job search can be both frightening and frustrating, especially after years of comfortable employment. So to point you in a productive direction, let’s review a few lessons from Job Search 101.

First, finding a job is a job in itself. Applicants often hope that contacting recruiters or submitting online applications will bring the process to a hasty conclusion. But while both of these steps are perfectly appropriate, the real key to success is mastering the basic skills of networking, resume-writing and interviewing.

Second, job search is a sequential process, which makes it easier to diagnose difficulties. If you don’t have enough job leads, then you need to do more networking. If job leads don’t produce interviews, consider strengthening your resume.

And if interviews fail to generate offers, your interviewing skills may be weak.

Third, recruiters work for employers, not applicants. Their customers are the managers who pay them to fill positions, so finding you a job is not their main goal. Recruiters can be useful, but keep your expectations realistic. And avoid those “placement experts” who want you to pay them for job leads.

Finally, be sure to review your online presence, because employers are likely to do so. A weird LinkedIn profile, angry political rant or crude Facebook photo could greatly reduce your odds of being hired.

Looking for work in the Seattle area? Search job openings here.