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by Connie and Caroline | January 13, 2010


The job market, while stabilizing, is by no means robust. For the long-term unemployed, it will be even more competitive now as the employed but unhappy get encouraged by the improving market outlook to take a chance and start looking. For the employed, many will find that despite the happier reporting the market is still extremely tight. If you aren’t motivated to launch a hard-charging job search, you will get easily discouraged by this market and may be tempted to settle. Yet, this would be a mistake.

Great things are only possible with outrageous requests – Thea Alexander

Instead, focus on getting the job you love, not just any job. In difficult times, it is not enough to go after just any job. Getting just any job will be difficult, and you won’t have the interest to see it through. But a job that you really care about will be just as difficult, and you will have something extra to get you through the ups and downs inevitable in every tough job search.

Focus on the intangibles (e.g., boss and colleagues, office culture, room for growth), not just on the basic job elements (e.g., title, salary, security). You want to like where you work, and you want to establish career momentum. Aiming for being lucky enough to get a job is not going to be high enough to get anything. The higher you aim, the more likely you get more.

Focus on the long-term, despite the short-term urgency. I absolutely coach my clients to be realistic about their cash position and personal circumstances, which may require that they take consulting, temporary or even less-than-ideal full-time jobs if their obligations dictate that. There may be moves you make in the immediate term that will move you off your idealized long-term path. But then you must immediately get back on there. Don’t get complacent in your underutilized role. Keep with the search, and dial it up a notch now that you have regained some breathing room. It is a big mistake that many jobseekers make to get a comfortable job and forget the urgency to push for something more. Remember you are managing a career, not any one job.

It may seem counterintuitive (and outrageous) given the tight market to recommend you shoot for the moon. But that stretch is what you need to get anything accomplished when times are difficult. You may as well stretch towards the direction you really want to go.

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart, a career coaching firm comprised of former Fortune 500 recruiters. Prior to launching SixFigureStart, Caroline recruited for Accenture, Booz Allen, Citigroup, Disney ABC, Oliver Wyman, Time Inc, TV Guide and others. Contact her at


Filed Under: Job Search

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