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Unless you’ve had jobs simply fall into your lap, you know that engaging in a job search is usually time-consuming and, the longer it takes, often stressful as well. Success is easily measured; initially by the number of interviews you get and, ultimately, in whether you receive at least one suitable job offer.
However, if you are seeking employment during sluggish economic times or in a profession where competition for employment is stiff, you may experience a discouraging amount of rejection. What’s more, it’s not always easy to identify the cause for the lack of success in your job search. Is it your resume? Is it your approach? Are you even looking in the right place?
So (with apologies to David Byrne and the Talking Heads), you may ask yourself, “Well, how do I work this”? If your job search isn’t yielding reasonable results, much less those you’d expected, it’s time to take inventory of your efforts to assess whether it’s style, substance, or both that are keeping you from being taken seriously.
We encourage you to look at the details of your job search efforts and ask yourself if the failure to gain momentum is due to something obvious (e.g., the need to rewrite your resume) or because of something less so, something process-related. Review the following items as they relate to your current efforts to determine whether you’re getting in the way of your own job search:
- I still haven’t found what I’m looking for. Are you clear on what that is? Is the job you’re seeking a reasonable target given your training, experience, and/or the current state of the industry? Remember that satisfaction is a function of expectation. If you’re expecting to be considered for a position but your aptitude and abilities don’t match your ambition, you may need to take a hard look at whether you’re spending your time wisely.
- Do your research. Related to the first item, if you fail to research the industry, the company, the profession and, if possible, even the corporate culture, you run the risk of being a generic candidate, one easily overshadowed by a candidate who knows exactly who to contact and what information to provide in the application and interview. If you don’t establish your fitness for the position at the outset, you likely will not be given a second chance to do so. Which leads us to:
- Off-the-rack never looks as good as tailor-made. If you don’t craft your cover letter and resume to suit the reader(s), you’ll demonstrate that you didn’t consider the position worth your time and, (no surprise!), they’ll demonstrate that you’re not worth their time either.
- Reading is fundamental. Carefully review employer instructions regarding the application process. No, really. Carefully review them. Is your resume to be in doc. format? PDF? In the body of the email formatted in plain text? Rest assured that if you fail to meet this initial test (make no mistake, it is a test), your chances of getting the job have just been extinguished.
- The proof is in the pudding. Which is our way of reminding you to proofread your application form, cover letter, resume, and/or examples of your work. Additionally, have someone whose abilities you trust do so as well.
- What goes on the Internet stays on the Internet. Review your online presence. Does it convey the personality of a person you expect most employers would hire? Being a maverick or free spirit has its place; a job search is usually not it.
- Use professional email addresses. Trust us, fratratking@ or ladygogogogo@ won’t serve you at all.