Unemployment vs. the Job Search

After a few months doing contract work for my most recent real employer, I’m back in search mode, and—unless something extremely unexpected happens—back on unemployment.
Collecting unemployment is, in some ways, incompatible with a good job hunt.  First, you must have three legitimate job contacts per week.  The majority of these contacts will, most likely, take the form of a job application.  Of course, if you’re doing it right, before you apply for a job you’ll do serious research on the company, verify that it’s a place you want to work, maybe even get to know some of the folks who work there, that sort of thing. At one of the training events provided by the good people—and I do mean that sincerely—of Worksource Washington, in fact, I understood the trainer to advocate hanging around the office of a place you might want to work. This would let you know about the environment, and would let them get to know you, so if an opening came up (yes, you should do this even if they have no openings), you would be likely to spring to mind.
Even if you don’t go to quite that extent, there is genuine effort involved in deciding that company X is a place you want to work. I’m not going to say that it’s impossible to put that kind of effort into three companies a week—it is your job, after all—but I will say it strikes me unlikely that there are enough interesting companies to sustain that level of effort through a lengthy search (a rule of thumb I’ve run into a couple times is that you should expect your search to take a month for every $10k of salary you’re looking for).
But let’s say you do it: you use all the available resources to find companies in your industry of expertise, and you find three of them each week that are suitable for you and that are likely enough to have openings that it’s reasonable to give them a résumé (or, better yet, have a personal conversation with a hiring manager). By the time one of them gets back to you, you’ve probably gone through the same process with ten more companies, and if there’s one thing everybody loves to hear, it’s “which one were you again?” I completely blew a phone interview with a company I think I would have genuinely enjoyed working for (let’s call them A), because I had just gotten a phone call from another company (B) I wanted to work for a lot, and was thinking about the upcoming company B phone interview instead of focusing on the phone interview with A that I was actually in the middle of. Then, when the hiring manager from B called, the first thing he said was “Looking at your résumé, I don’t know why the HR recruiter thought you’d be right for this.” It rather put me off my game. But I digress.
I guess whatever point I may have is that it is far too easy to browse Monster, Indeed, TheLadders, or your job board of choice, fill out three online applications a week, and wonder why you don’t get any callbacks. On the other hand, it is physically and emotionally exhausting to make a serious effort at three openings a week (four a week if you’ve exhausted standard and emergency benefits and are on to extended). And you’ll still probably only get a 10-25% callback rate.
Take care of yourselves.

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