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Four signs that your job search is in trouble – and how to fix it

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Job searching can be lonely business, with very little feedback built into the process. Most of the time, companies don’t even acknowledge receiving your application, let alone letting you know when you won’t be considered for the job. With all of this radio silence, how can you tell if your job search strategies are really working or not?

Fortunately, there are some key metrics and signs to consider to gauge your effectiveness.

You aren’t getting phone interviews.

Of course, this is the most obvious sign that your job search is struggling. If the phone never rings, there is something seriously wrong. However, you should also consider the success rate. If your resume is doing its job, you should be getting at least one phone interview for every 10- 20 applications that you complete. If it’s been more than 20 applications since you had an interview, you really need to evaluate your resume and make sure that you are using the right key words, achievements, and relevant duties to survive HR’s screening process.

You only give HR the minimum required.

Ever see a job application that says “cover letter optional?” If you choose not to send one, you lost a golden opportunity – not to mention that you probably just got screened out. Think about it: if they have 200 applicants for the job and only 75 bothered to go above submitting the minimum, they will consider the candidates who go the extra mile first.

Another version of this issue is present on LinkedIn. When posting a job on LinkedIn, the employers have the option to accept applications directly through the site. In that case, your profile serves as your resume. HOWEVER, you do have the option to upload a Word or PDF version of your resume. Once again, those candidates who do the extra steps tend to rank higher.

You aren’t reaching out to hiring managers.

Thanks to many resources online, it is actually easier than ever to track down hiring managers. Of course, LinkedIn’s Advanced Search features and Company Pages should be some of your go-to tools, but other websites like www.ZoomInfo.com or www.TheOfficialBoard.com offer real-world data and insight into the leadership of key companies across the US. ZoomInfo is particularly helpful, as it often lists the direct contact information for the managers and other employees.

Don’t forget scouring the company’s own website and conducting intelligent Google searches to determine the top managers. Local business news magazines like the Denver Business Journal or the Colorado Business Magazine offer sourcebooks or lists for top companies, many with key contacts.  Can’t afford one of their subscriptions? Check the local library for the print versions.

The point is that you want to do more than just apply through the HR application process and hope for the best. Get your resume directly to the managers to make a positive impact.

You aren’t networking – either in person or online.

Networking is still an essential piece of the job search. Fortunately, this also includes proactive networking on LinkedIn, either through directly connecting with people or by getting involved in the Groups. Networking should always be a proactive approach. Start by posting quality content in the Groups to build your reputation. That way, when you start reaching out to individuals, they can see the quality of your content and more likely to accept your invitations.

When networking in person, consider different types of groups. While leads groups are great for businesses, they don’t work well for job seekers. Instead, consider professional associations, professional development groups that focus on building the members’ skills, job seeker groups, and even social groups. www.MeetUp.com can be a great resource for discovering all of these groups in your area. The key is to get out and actually meet with people face-to-face.

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About the Author:

Since 2004, Donna has been teaching job seekers of all levels effective job search strategies. In 2009, she published her book “Get a Job Without Going Crazy: a Practical Guide to Your Employment Search.” Donna is based in Denver, and has presented workshops in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Dallas. She continues to work with job seekers across the country.

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