How to Get out of a Job Search Rut

Can you relate to the following statement? I can’t find job opportunities because I don’t have Canadian experience. I can’t get Canadian experience because no one wants to give me a job. 

If you raised your hand, you are not alone. In fact, you are one of many many international students who face the same problem. It can be difficult to get your foot into the industry without any prior experience. 

Now that we’ve identified the problem, let’s talk about what we can do to help get out of this, seemingly impossible, cycle. 

We presented this challenge to our team of career coaches who work directly with international students at workshops, events and 1:1 sessions (oftentimes, helping to navigate this exact problem). Our lead career coach Sejal Ahir developed a 6 step assessment to help you get out of the rut!

Discover where are you getting stuck 

You may be overwhelmed with the fact that you haven’t landed your dream job. A good first step to addressing this problem is to break down the process even further. Keep track of where you’re not noticing results in the process.

  • Are you not hearing back after you apply? Maybe you need to work on your application package
  • Are you not getting a second interview? Maybe you need to do some additional prep?
  • Are you not hearing back after a second interview? Maybe you need to do research on culture fit.

Taking some time to examine what areas in your job search process you are struggling with will help you reevaluate the areas that need work. To help make it even easier to identify your trouble areas, check out how we break down the planning, preparation and action stages of the job search process.

Set realistic goals

Another step you can take is to reconsider your job search goals. If you are looking for a job without a clear aim you may face burnout sooner than you think. For example, a job search strategy for getting a part-time job while also attending school may be a lot different than a strategy for getting your dream job after graduation. By clearly defining your job search goals, you can create specific strategies. You will also be able to better measure your successes (and failures) when they come around. Remember, your goals can and should change as you learn more and grow in your career. This is a good place to re-visit if you feel stuck.

Update your resume 

Next, let’s take another look at your resume. The resume is meant to accomplish a couple of goals. It is first, meant to highlight your credentials and accomplishments. The second is to pass the Application Tracking System aka ATS. An ATS often reads your resume before a human ever sees it. In fact, ATSs are used by 98% of Fortune 500 companies to help them sort through applications quickly.

We know you should be tailoring your resume and cover letter to every job posting, but that doesn’t mean you have to start your resume from scratch each time. A few things to think about when giving your resume a makeover include:

  • Is my education up to date?
  • Am I using the appropriate metrics to show my successes?
  • Am I using strong verbs to showcase my accomplishments?
  • Am I outlining the hard skills I have? For example, software and platforms I’m comfortable using.
  • Will there design elements in my resume be blocked by an ATS?

Understand your personal story

With so much compeition, it may be difficult to stand out. Your personal story and brand may be just the solution. Your personal brand is wraps up your skills, accomplishments and unique story into a package for employers and recruiters, that is both easy to understand and remember. A successful personal brand starts with self-reflection and requires a deliberate strategy to really make an impact. Lucky for you, we make it easy for you to build your personal brand. Check out our full length blog post followed by our easy to follow worksheet to get started.

Tell your connections

Don’t be afraid to talk about your struggles and your job search process. This is one of the best things about being a part of a community, at your school, on social platforms, and through your friends and family circles. It’s important to be honest with these issues because everyone in your network has been in your shoes at some point in time. You never know how they can help you, whether that be with an encouraging word, a connection they know, or an open position. There is nothing shameful about going through the job search process. It may take longer than you expected, but that’s exactly why it’s called a process. 

Take a Break

Pace yourself. It’s OK to need some time to rest, recharge and re-evaluate your job search strategy. No one is productive when they are faced with potential burnout. To avoid some of this strain, we want to encourage you to start your career development early. As part of our PLAN, PREP and ACTION plan, we find many of our students jump straight to the action stage. Without a plan and preparation stage, your job search can often be unfruitful. For more tips on how to set healthy boundaries in your job search, check out our latest blog post.

Being in the cycle of no experience and no jobs is a tough place to be. It can seem even tougher to break from it. With these easy-to-implement tactics, you can take it one step at a time. Our career coaches also always available to help support you in your Canadian job search journey.

This idea was submitted to us by Jashanpreet Kaur through our Devant Insider Contest. Although the contest is closed, you can still reach out to us and you could be featured in our next post.  


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Contact Us

If you’d like to ask a question about something you’ve read here, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Director, Operations & Client Experience, Sejal Ahir at or by phone at 1 (647) 781-2945.