When getting a job is taking longer than you expected

Job hunting when you don’t have a job is never nice. I recently spoke with someone, a seasoned senior marketing manager with an extensive network, who was nearing the end of their gardening leave and struggling to land a job. Getting a new role hadn’t been as easy as they thought it would, and they found themselves worrying, unable to enjoy the time off work because they were just stressing about finding work before their money runs out. 

If you find yourself in a similar situation, here’s my advice.


First, there is no point at all in beating yourself up about where you are (or aren’t) in your current job search. There is no parallel universe where you can change things. Accept this. Might have beens waste our life. Get over it! When you find yourself thinking those thoughts, acknowledge that you do not have a job and your brain is making you feel sad and angry, and then try to move your thoughts along. 


Second, accept that you will get a job. Accept that it may just take some time and you may need to adjust your expectations and finances accordingly. Accepting will allow you to plan for all eventualities. Work out your budgets and act appropriately. If you can remove some of the financial pressure by cutting back on living expenses, reducing mortgage payments, or finding schemes for making some cash on the side such as renting out a spare room, you will give yourself a bit more space for the job hunt. You should also work out if you can widen your job search, in terms of industry, level and pay. What is the minimum pay you can accept without changing too much about your life? Yes, everyone wants a dream job, but in a slow job market, you may need to accept something else for a while. I realise this is not aspirational but if money is starting to be tight, take action. 


Third, accept that gardening leave, without a job, is not necessarily going to be fun. Job hunting is not fun. If you have a nice hour here or there drinking a coffee in the sunshine, that is the best you can realistically hope for. Use time away from job hunting to do tasks that are mind-consuming so you have less chance to dwell on your job hunt. Reading, socialising, and any hobbies which require focus will all serve you well. Taking time away from the job hunt will re-energise you, too, making you more efficient when you do come back to it. It’s also a good time to look if there’s anything you can do without and plan to sell it. I’ve got friends who’ve made small fortunes selling clothes on Vinted and old tech on Facebook Marketplace. It might give you another week or two’s grace in this tough job market.

Three resources to help with job search in a difficult market: 

Did you find this post interesting? For more content like this, sign-up to my newsletter, ‘Dear Katie’, where I help solve real-life messy leadership problems.

Have a leadership problem of your own? Submit it via email – katie@katiebest.com – and I will answer it anonymously in a future issue.