Make no mistake – when you are looking for a job or consulting gig you may have run into a few roadblocks along the way. If you continue to ignore the signs hoping they will go away, ultimately the length of time to land work will become longer than you expect.

The assumption is that if you are working in the same industry, want the same kind of job or gig that you follow a process and viola you have the job. The experts tell you to go through the steps of networking, applying for positions or putting together proposals….until you realize that nothing is coming your way.

Here are some of the warning signs:

1. You are out of work after a long period of time.

Plodders are not going to make traction in today’s environment. The pace has picked up significantly – some of that is beneficial and some of it is a bit disconcerting.

The competition for the prime jobs is fierce and if the employer or client does not see you as “different” than the other candidates, they will quickly lose interest.

Is it time to assess what is getting in the way of your progress and take action to correct it? History has a way of repeating itself if we do not make a changes and get out of our comfort zone.

2. You continue to do the same things you did 10 years ago to land that job or assignment.

The landscape has changed. If you are still applying for positions online and not getting out meeting with other people, you are missing opportunities.

Meet people who are working or are good networkers. They will have access to the fresh or new jobs.

Use support groups for just that – support and not a bitch session. Develop your personal accountability plan and share it with some colleagues. Help one another to move forward instead of languishing in the “oh woe is me”.

Be open about your quest, hunger and excitement for active employment. People will not bring you opportunities if you continue to play it cool because they will think you do not need work.

The clearer you are about how people can help you, the easier it will be for them to step up and do it. Refine the position, assignment, gig, company, culture and other key criteria and share that information with others.

Actively engage others in conversation that lets them know you are in transition without being pushy. Desperation sets in when we wait to communicate after months have gone by; let’s be honest stress levels increase every day that goes by without working.

3. Making connections and being referred is getting harder.

Years ago, cultivating relationships was a much longer process – often taking several meetings and exchanges of information to become comfortable with a new person. Once that relationship was established, there was a level of security.

Today, in the advent of speed, sometimes there seems to be a lack of sincerity or authenticity with networking. My sense is that people are pushed to increase their rolodex and forget that they are engaging with someone else who has needs too.

Getting a name or having someone’s information does not mean that they will work in your best interest – it takes more effort. When you schedule a meeting or phone call, let the other person know your agenda.

The agenda is an important step – they will either see it is all about you or that you have an interest in them too. Think about how you would respond if you were receiving a request from someone else.

A qualitative meeting can last anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour. Fifteen minutes with someone new or having a side bar conversation will only get you their card, not their attention and commitment to advocate on your behalf.

4. The scales tip to being more conservative vs. risky in your job hunt approach.

Here is an example of being safe and why taking a risk might have paid off. Bob recently went to a LinkedIn meeting and the speaker was a well-known branding consultant.

I asked him if he was going to work with her and he said, “Oh…she’s expensive and she only works with corporate clients.”

My response was, “Did you ask her to refer you to someone who was in your price point and works with individuals?”

“No. Well, you don’t understand” he says acting as if it would have a burden to make an inquiry.

The better consultants know their niche and turn away business that is not a good fit. They understand their industry and refer others to people they know, trust and want to help.

If you don’t ask, you will never receive. What is the down side? Someone can say they do not have anyone to refer to you and there is still a good chance they may provide some direction to find the resource you need.

What are some of the warning signs you have seen?