Why is my Job Search Going Nowhere?

The job search process can be a total drag. It sometimes feels never-ending and you get to a point where you feel completely lost and disheartened. So what’s a job seeker to do? A lot, as it turns out!

By the way, if you prefer to listen to this, check out the podcast here. 

Yes, there may be things beyond your control like the economy, your visa status, racist/ageist/sexist/homophobic interviewer, cat people. But if you’re getting a lot of back-to-back rejections over a period of time, it may be time to shake things up. Unlike what we were taught in school, the likelihood of getting a job doesn’t just depend on your resume, cover letter, or interview skills. Sure, those are important, but there are a number of tools in your toolbelt so it’s good to evaluate each one of those and figure out which ones to sharpen.

1. Your Resume: There are a number of things you need to get right with your resume. Does it tell the right story of who you are, what your strengths are, what you’re looking for? Does it have the right keywords? Does it have the right layout and look? Would it grab a hiring manager’s attention in a few seconds? If you’re not sure,  ask a friend, classmate, colleague to take a look at your resume and give you feedback.

2. Your online persona: With so much information available about us on social media and the internet in general, it’s really easy for employers to dig up the dirt on you. So either make your social media profiles private, or clean them up. So no pictures of you being sloppy drunk or making brash political statements. You never know who’s looking, so it’s best to not jeopardize your chances in any way.

On the flipside, you could use social media to position yourself as a stellar candidate. Linkedin is, of course, the best place to do that, like getting to all-star status, being really active, posting relevant content both on your page as well as in groups. You can also use twitter, instagram, or personal websites to get creative and highlight your personal brand.

3. The Interview: There are so many elements to consider here. Start by making the right first impression the minute you walk into the room by dressing appropriately and in line with the company culture. Also, body language is very important. Make sure to maintain eye contact, smile, look confident, practice your power poses. Then comes the verbal part. The actual things you say definitely matter. So how well you answer questions, ask the right questions yourself, sell yourself, and how prepared you are, all make a huge difference. Also, don’t forget to follow up with either a hand-written card or email to thank the interviewers for their time.

4. Networking: The biggest missed opportunity is just relying on online applications and not networking the right way. And no, that doesn’t mean sending your resume to people or going to career fairs. Instead, have a very targeted strategy. Know exactly what type of job you’re looking for, whom you want to meet, what types of events they attend. Work on your elevator pitch -- a 30-second explanation of who you are, what you’re looking for, and why. And then get out there and network, baby! And remember to follow up with people you talk to.

Now remember, the aim is to build authentic connections, so you don’t want to come off as disingenuous and you just want a job out of people -- be natural. It should feel like you’re just there to make friends. Informational interviews are another a great way to make one-on-one connections. And give back -- if you can help someone else with their career, that’s awesome. It’ll teach you a lot in the process and help create some good will.

5. Being Self-Aware: Like Simon Sinek says, it’s really important to know your WHY. What drives you? Is it money, fear, status, etc? What are your values? What are your beliefs? And are any of those limiting beliefs? Is there something you wish you could do, but have always told yourself you weren’t good enough at? And is that really true? Sit down and really think about this -- it may shed some light on what you're doing wrong. Write it down!

6. Taking Risks: Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, landed her first big contract with Neiman Marcus through a series of bold moves. Rather than attending trade shows and hoping a buyer would walk by her booth, she decided to call one directly. She called over and over again until she got to speak with the buyer rather than the assistant. And rather than mailing her product to them, she insisted on meeting face to face. Then, while at the meeting, when she realized the buyer wasn’t impressed, she asked her to follow her to the Ladie’s Room to actually demonstrate what Spanx could do. Sure enough, she landed a deal for 7 stores! How could you think outside the box with your job search? Reach out to an influencer and ask for 15 minutes of their time to chat, walk into an office and ask to speak to an HR person, if you know your idol is giving a talk at a conference, attend and try to get facetime with them at the end. Do Whatever it takes (as long as it’s legal!).

7. Seeking help - When the job search seems to be going nowhere, you sometimes feel like you’ve hit a wall and it’s hard to continue. At times like that, don’t be afraid to seek help, whether it’s a career coach --  someone to help you with your resume, linkedin profile, or interview skills. You could even talk to a life coach or therapist if it’s really starting to affect your mental state. You need to take care of yourself, so ain’t no shame in the game. And it’s ok to invest some money into this stuff if the result is that you’ll get your head in the game and be motivated again to go out there and land that stellar job!

Moral of the story: There are innumerable reasons your job search hasn’t been successful. Rather than focusing on individual elements, look at all the different factors involved and figure out what to improve. But most importantly, keep a positive attitude and an open mind. You can do this!

 

How to Craft a Killer Resume

Ah, the resume -- the bane of every job seeker’s existence. Yes, a resume shouldn’t be the only tool in your job search tool belt, but not having an effective resume could keep you from getting a great job. Recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds on a resume. Let that sink in for a moment … 6 seconds! So how do you make sure yours stands out? Here are a few things to consider:

 

  1. The Design: People have lower attention spans now (thanks, internet!), so keep your resume short and make the layout easy to read. If you have around 10 years of experience, you should have a 1-page resume. You also don't have to rely just on that Microsoft Word template. Check out some of these bad boys! Being in the digital world, a LinkedIn profile or a personal website provides a lot of supplemental information, so your resume should just be a highlight reel of your accomplishments.

  2. Tell your story: When it comes to the content, start by taking a big picture view. It’s important to do your homework - knowing what type of job you want and why, networking, doing informational interviews, all of which will allow you to refine your message. This is especially important if you’re transitioning to a completely different industry because your resume and past experience say one thing but you’re going in a completely different direction, so that needs to come across effectively.

  3. The summary statement: This should be just 1-2 lines that highlight your strengths and what type of job you want. Keep it simple! The tendency is to sound fancy, use a bunch of jargon, or cram in all your qualifications, but think from the perspective of a recruiter who has a few seconds to look at your resume. They need to know in plain English what you’re looking for an why you’re special.

  4. Words Matter: Online applications will filter out resumes that don’t have the right keywords, so look at the job description and include some of that language in your resume. You also want to use a lot of action verbs like reduced claims by 50% or managed a team of 20 employees, etc. Also, try not to get too jargony. Especially if you’re transitioning into a different career path, people are not going to understand jargon associated with your previous career. And heavily edit each section - every task you ever performed at a job doesn’t need to be listed -- just the highlights.

  5. The STAR method: The best way to highlight your accomplishments is to talk about the Situation, Task, Action, Result. Numbers are also incredibly important. Instead of saying just “Created a training program to increase efficiency”, if I said “Decreased employee turnover by 40% over a 6-month period by creating a 1-week training program”, that sounds far more effective.

  6. Think like a recruiter: We often think that every minute detail of what we did will be important, but a recruiter or hiring manager is thinking about you in the context of the job, so put yourself in their shoes. They want to see how your experience is relevant to this particular position, and they want to get a sense of what type of person you’d be, so try to humanize yourself, show how you’re well rounded. If you’ve had volunteer experience, include it. And don’t be afraid to add some personality, especially in the summary statement. 

Now there are a few common practices from back in the day that aren’t valid anymore. Time to debunk some myths!

  1. No address needed: You do not need to put your address on your resume. In fact, that’s kinda dangerous, so remove it ASAP. Your contact info can just be your email, phone, LinkedIn profile.

  2. Gaps on resumes: Having a gap on your resume is not a death sentence -- hiring managers know how common layoffs have become. Also, you don’t need to put the month on your resume anymore - just the year should be fine. You can also fill in the gaps with volunteer experience, freelance gigs, or projects you’ve done during the lull periods to add value.

  3. The resume is NOT the first step: As we go through the job search process, our resume is often the first thing we start to work on, when in fact, this should come at the later stages. It’s important to first know what sort of job, industry, or company you want to work for, have a few job titles in mind, do the requisite amount of networking and conducting informational interviews. Only then can you begin to craft an effective resume that conveys exactly what you want. 

Remember, while a resume is important, it is merely a tool, so don’t think of it as the be all, end all.

If you’re still looking for help with crafting that killer resume, we can make one for you!