Getting Your Next Job Will Take Longer Than You Think

Korn Ferry CEO Gary Burnison lays out how to be mentally, emotionally, and physically prepared for an extended job hunt.

Gary Burnison is CEO of Korn Ferry. He is the author of Advance: The Ultimate How-To Guide for Your Career and Lose the Resume, Land the Job. For more information, see

The new year is nearly here, and you already know what tops your resolution list for 2020: getting a new job.

You can’t wait for a change, whether inside or outside your current employer. You’ve got motivating notes stuck on the refrigerator and the bathroom mirror – New Year = New Career! – along with reminders to go the gym, eat healthier, and all the rest. Before January is over, you tell yourself, you’ll have a new title, bigger responsibilities, and more money.

Not to dampen your enthusiasm, but just because you’ve put a job change on your resolution list doesn’t mean it’s going to happen automatically. Even with the unemployment rate at 3.5% (the lowest in 50 years) and companies clamoring for workers to fill open positions, it takes time to get a job—especially the right job.

In fact, landing the job you want can often take months, start to finish. The process of finding a new job—targeting opportunities at companies you want to work for, networking your way to a “warm introduction,” practicing and preparing for interviews, making a great impression in every interview, and finally landing the job—is a long haul.

If you don’t grasp this reality, you’re going to get discouraged—and fast. The waiting game between interviews (hiring managers have busy day jobs, too) could erode your confidence. Next thing you know, you’re radiating desperation, and that’s not going to do you any favors in interviews.

You need to be mentally, emotionally, and even physically prepared. Here’s how:

  • It’s not microwaving popcorn on high. Getting that next gig in the new year is not an instant process. You’re going to send more emails, make more phone calls, leave more messages, do more networking, and wait for longer periods than you can imagine. To keep from abandoning your new year’s resolution of a new job before mid-February (when 80 percent of resolutions are dropped), you need to be aware of what it takes in terms of time and effort.
  • Networking: your attitude is everything. It’s easy to get discouraged. While you’re out there networking with anyone and everyone—hopefully forging connections—you’re also going to get blown off by some people who haven’t heard from you in a while or maybe are too far out on the “seven degrees of separation.” When that happens, don’t invite negative thoughts to come over and play in your head. The minute you come across as defeated, people will be less enthusiastic about networking with you or recommending you for a job because they doubt your confidence. Instead, stay focused on your A.C.T. (being authentic, making a connection, and giving others a taste of who you are).
  • Burn off steam. Have a plan for how you can handle the stress of the job search. A great way is to engage in some sort of physical activity. Exercise can clear your head, relieve frustration, and generate endorphins that keep you positive. Or, engage in meditation or breathing exercises. Find something to help you relax and shift your focus away from obsessively checking your email for when your follow-up interview is scheduled.
  • Find a listening ear. When the frustrations mount, find a way to vent them—just don’t involve anyone in your job search process. Not the recruiter. Not the person who recommended you for the job. Not someone you want to be a reference. And, it’s probably not advisable to use your spouse or partner for venting, either. Job transitions can be stressful on relationships. Adding to that stress by moaning that you’ll never get another job probably isn’t going to help at home. Instead, find someone else to support you—a listening ear when you need some cheering up or a sounding board when you’re frustrated. This may mean a career coach, who can advise you through the process ( can be a great resource here).
  • Reach out to a job-search buddy. You’re not the only one going through this frustrating process—especially these days when “career nomads” are changing jobs every few years. Find a job-search buddy. Share stories and experiences that can keep you both motivated.

If getting a new job is your goal for 2020, you can make it happen if you’re patient, strategic, and stay positive. That’s the best way to start off a really great new year.