The Seven Circles Of The Job Search Hell

Let me confess right upfront: I really tried to come up with nine circles (phases) since the job search for most people is akin to hell. But I cut my losses and stuck to the seven that make sense to me. Plus, seven is a much cooler number than nine (Seven Samurai, Seven Dwarfs, seven wonders of the world, “Se7en” the movie) — you get it.

I did think about adding a circle for “what the hell am I going to wear to my interview?”.

There are hundreds of articles available on the steps of a successful job search (this one’s my favorite). And when you’re looking for a job it probably feels more like 5,000. But my goal was to figure out where to start eating the elephant and identify the area most compelling to tackle.

With A Little Help From My Friends

What makes or breaks the search, IMHO, is how well you recruit friends, family, colleagues to help you. Or even strangers — just check out the subreddits on careers, resumes, interviewing. Or the Workplace Stack Exchange community.

Looking through the lens of collaboration, the nature of the help you need changes meaningfully as you transition from one to the next, and your “ask” of each person is different. When you try to figure out what to do with your career you need true coaching, therapy. Once you got it (or at least good enough), you translate what you want to do into an awesome story (resume), work samples, references. Here you need concrete input from your network rather than a shoulder to cry on.

Courtesy Margarida CSilva @ Unsplash

The Collaborative Job Search

I broke the overall process (the elephant) into the following seven circles:

  1. Define (your goal)
  2. Prepare (your documents)
  3. Research (your target companies & contacts)
  4. Engage (your network)
  5. Interview (for the desired role)
  6. Negotiate (your benefits)
  7. Close (your search)

Here’s where I have to be honest. I started with #1, Define, and took on the challenge of guiding job seekers to their true calling. Late in 2015 I ran a number of experiments with friends to show them how happy or unhappy they were in their professional lives. Polled people around them and contrasted it with their perception (so they start paying attention). And then I pondered how to solve “career satisfaction” with software.

Too hard. Figuring out the best profession (and alignment with life goals) is an individual exercise often best tackled by a career coach. Though the conversations on professional fulfillment, the meaning of life, and regrets were awesome.


Resumes Are Dead

They’re not. Though they’ve been called dead when arrived. And again when LinkedIn gained traction. Estimates are that there are about 110 million resumes in circulation today in the US alone, and the business of sexy resume formatting is booming (personally I don’t recommend graphical gimmicks).

And while I defined it as “Prepare”, your resume is the most important artifact of your job search. Your calling card, marketing collateral, coffee book.

Dante’s Nine Circles Of Hell by Sandro Botticelli

I talked to job searchers about resumes and surveyed a few hundred professionals to understand what’s working (or not) here. And the data was fascinating. Enough so for me to get curious — and put impact within reach.

And yes, I saw Inferno. 4 out of 10.