How to Save a Failing Job Search
Job Searches suck. There is no ifs, ands or buts about it. The average job search is 3-6 months in Canada, 6-9 months in the States, already that seems like a long period of time but sometimes we fall outside of those averages. And when we do, when we enter into the 1 year mark (or longer) in an active job search, we can reach a low we never thought possible.
It leaves us feeling lost, frustrated and confused. We question every decision we make, and feel pretty horrible about ourselves. We think we are doing the right things, but we are hearing nothing from companies (either after an application or an interview). Negativity is taking over and it is hard to feel like we will ever get a job, the light at the end of the tunnel is just getting dimmer and dimmer.
But we can’t give up, that isn’t an option right? So what do we do?
First read this article on Staying Inspired During a Job Search and consider taking a day or two (or seven!) off to give you time to recharge.
Next, we need to do a review, we need to see where there is potential, room for improvement and to know whether we should reach out for help.
Let’s look at your applications. Examine, look at your applications to jobs that are a good fit, meaning you should probably have gotten an interview.
Let’s look at your ratio – how many of those did you get an interview for those, how many?
The standard ratio is 1 interview out of 5-10 applications depending, some industries and some circumstances can change it.
For the ones that garnered you the interview, let’s take a closer look. What was it about that application that led to the interview – what was the application process (email direct, networking, ATS), what did your resume and cover letter look like, industry, company size. This information may allow you to further focus your work.
If your ratio is not in line with the average ratio. Then we need to re-examine your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile. Is your resume telling YOUR story, are you sending in a cover letter, is it engaging? Is your resume and LinkedIn profile optimized for an Applicant Tracking System?
Have someone else read through all of your documents, I would have someone who is familiar with what you do (to mimic the Hiring Manager) and someone who isn’t (to mimic a recruiter). Sometimes, we get so stuck in our head when it comes to our marketing documents that it is helpful to get someone else’s feedback. Plus, it is common to constantly tweak it to align with all of the conflicting information out there which leaves you with a resume that isn’t cohesive.
Obviously, if you are really struggling then getting a resume writer to take a look or write you a new one may be the best option for you.
Do you have a networking strategy, is networking a part of your job search? 70-80% of jobs are found through some form of networking so it is important to get a strategy going. Plus it will get you out of the house and out of your head!
Each week you should devote most of your time to some form of networking activity, so next week look at your current network, who can you take out for coffee?
Confused and have no idea where to start? I've written alot about Networking and talk about it a lot on my weekly Q&A on Facebook Live (on my page and in the Find Career Happiness Group).
Stay tuned, I have an amazing freebie coming next week plus an announcement that will make networking so much easier!
When I ask people about their job search, their successes equate to two things – resumes submitted and interviews secured. And while, securing interviews is a goal as you need them to get the offer, tying your feeling of success to something outside of your control is a sure-fire way to destroy your self-confidence and allow a negative attitude to flourish. So my first recommendation for interviews is to be cognizant of them (how many you are getting, how they are going, etc) but instead of using that as a major goal, use networking instead.
Now let’s assume your resume to interview average is good. Let’s look at your interview to offer numbers. On average, it takes interviewing with 4-5 different companies to receive 1 offer. I’m guessing since you are reading this, that that isn’t the case. So let’s examine the interview.
How have the interviews been going? Where have you excelled and where have you struggled? What kind of questions have they asked, and what kind of answers have you given? Are you telling your story or just answering in bullet points? Are you asking insightful questions?
If you are struggling, consider having a friend give you a mock interview or better yet hire a coach, the investment will be worth it. Self-awareness is great, but we are biased, so it is helpful to have someone objective listen in.
At the end of the day, you need to start talking to people. Get some advise from a previous Manager (great start for networking) on your job search, resume and interview skills. Talk with a close friend or family member. Right now, a clear, objective and unbiased look at your job search is exactly what you need.
As always, you can set up a complimentary 30 minute Strategy Call with me and I would be happy to discuss.
And stay tuned for the big announcement next week!
You just finished an interview. It went really well, you are super excited and can’t wait to hear whether you move on to the next steps or, better yet, get the job offer.
So what do you do? Do you go home and wait? Maybe apply to some other jobs just in case?
Do you send a thank you email to your interviewers?
Probably not. How do I know? I spent 15 years recruiting, and I know that the majority of the people I interviewed did not email me. I also know from Hiring Managers that they don’t receive too many.
Which shocks me. This is job search 101, isn’t it? But I think most people think it is a worthless exercise.
But it isn’t.
What it does is shows you want this job. It acts as a reminder of why you are a great fit for the job, how you connected with your interviewer and keeps you in their mind.
And it only takes a minute or two of your time. So well worth it!
Another reason why people don’t do it, is they just don’t know how. What should they write, when should they send it and who should they send it to?
Well I’m here to break all that down for you, to make it even easier and to arm you all the answers to these questions.
What Should I Write?
So I'm going to make this really easy for you, I'm going to give you the perfect thank you email template that you can customize:
Opening Paragraph – thank them for taking the time to meet with you. Throw in a compliment or reference some shared hobby/experience/person.
2nd paragraph – how you are the best fit for the role with an outline of 3 skills/experience that you bring to the table, if you can tie it into a current problem or challenge that they are facing, then even better! You can also throw in a quick example of how your skill set, knowledge and experience will help you exceed their expectations.
Final paragraph – talk about how excited you are to join their team and finish with a call to action (scheduling next steps or offer).
When Do you Send it?
There are a lot of opinions out there on when. I recommend sending it 24-48 hours later (unless you have some other intel that would change that up).
And I have some very specific reasons for this and it all has to do with psychology! I’m going to lay it all out here from the interviewer’s perspective (a perspective I know well since I’ve interviewed SO MANY candidates!)
As an interviewer, when you have a great interview you leave it on a high note and you feel so excited. So while it wouldn’t hurt to receive a thank you letter shortly after the interview, the significance of the value added isn’t maximized.
The next day that excitement has waned, it has nothing to do with the candidate and more to do with just normal human emotions. And each day that goes on it decreases. But getting a well crafted thank you email will remind you of the great connection you had and bring back those feelings of excitement maximizing the significance of the thank you email value.
Now when I talk about other intel – I'm thinking about the timing of your interview and other interviews.
If you interview on a Friday and it went amazing, send the Thank You email on Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning. So 24-48 business hours after and ensuring it doesn’t get lost in a bunch of email if the hiring manager doesn’t check over the weekend.
If they mention the timing of other candidate interviews then be very strategic in when you email them that thanks. Say you interview on a Thursday and they mention that it may be a week or two for you to get feedback as they are interviewing candidates the end of next week then I would send the Thank You email the Wednesday. That way you are reminding them of how wonderful you are right before they are going in to more interviews.
Who do you send it to?
Every single person that interviewed you. And you would create a personalized email for each (don’t send 1 thank you email to 2-3 interviewers).
If you don’t have their email addresses, you have a few options. The first would be to email the person who coordinated the interviews (typically a recruiter) to ask them to forward the email on. If you know of anyone’s email addresses within the organization, you can use the same format to email directly. Or you could hit up LinkedIn and send a connection request!
A thank you email is such a small thing and only takes a few minutes of your time. The benefit it adds to your job search is tremendous. It increases the likelihood of you getting hired. But it also opens up a dialogue meaning that it increases the likelihood that if you don’t get the job that you can receive feedback and even maybe convert the relationship into a networking one!
Everyone wants to succeed. Their definition of success may be different, but that desire is the same.
The journey to success used to be simple. You worked hard, you made the right connections, and you put your hand up. And what made it even easier was that you did it within the hours of 9-5pm at the physical office you worked at.
Our world isn’t like that anymore, it has changed. People work all hours of the day, flexible work arrangements are on the rise and we work with teams and individuals virtually more than ever.
So we can’t lean on the old way of finding success as the only way anymore, we have to implement some new strategies and think about our path differently.
Being a committed employee who exceeds expectations is still vital to any definition of success, but how you share that message is different. And that is where it gets more challenging.
We need to think of ourselves not as an employee but as a product.
This is so hard for us. It is one of the biggest reasons why people come to me to rewrite their resume and LinkedIn profiles and to provide interview coaching. We are so immersed in our careers that it is so hard to only focus on what matters.
We forget that we aren’t creating a chapter book but instead a marketing plan. I love to use the analogy of a magazine. What is it about you that will grab someone’s attention to stop at your ad within the magazine? You don’t need to tell them everything you just need to tell them what about you fits their needs.
The foundation of every marketing plan is a branding message, and in the case of your career, a personal brand. The personal brand is your messaging that shows the world your personality, your goals and your differentiating factor aka the value you bring to the table.
Your brand sends a message and creates an impression. One that extends beyond your work, your LinkedIn page or your interactions with your colleagues.
You may think that creating a personal brand just isn’t for you, especially if you are not even in marketing! But it is a super simple exercise.
Here are six questions for you to ask yourself that will result in a personal brand that lets everyone know how amazing you are.
1. What does success mean to me?
You need to get clear on your goals. On your own definition for success. Remember to clear the noise of societal pressures and messages. You don’t have to want something just because society or family makes you feel like you should want it.
2. What matters most to me?
This is a hard question to answer because it requires some digging. I want you to think about what you value most – in your work, in others (colleagues, management), in yourself. When you think of your definition of success, what type of impact does that lead you to? Think back on your performance reviews, what feedback mattered most to you (made you really happy or upset).
3. What is my story?
This is a quick story, a 1-2 sentence story. One that is cohesive and quickly shows off who you are, what you have done and where you want to go. Don’t forget to show off you, the authentic you not the cookie cutter you. So make sure you are genuine when crafting your story.
4. Where am I going?
Now it is time to focus on your future. How do your goals lines up with your definition of success? Are you looking at a promotion, a career pivot or a complete career change? Maybe your goals have nothing to do with the actual job but more the type of workplace – one where you can work from home, or set up a new business. Be clear on your destination.
5. What matters to my target audience?
When you know what you want, then you can have a clearer picture of who will be a decision maker on your future. Think about what matters to them. What skills, knowledge and experience do they want?
6. How can I tie it all together?
You know what you offer. And you know what your audience wants. So now you need to craft a message that reflects what they want. Your message should hopefully convince them that you are the person to give them what they need.
These six questions leave you knowing your value in a nutshell! This is the message you will weave throughout your marketing plan, including your LinkedIn profile, your elevator pitch, your resume and cover letter or a talent profile.
You will also weave it throughout your networking with your current network and with new contacts. When speaking with key decision makers, make sure you include some of these talking points casually into the conversation.
This foundation will allow you to build a successful career, one that will stand the test of time.
Do you want to talk through your personal brand? Set up a complimentary strategy call with me to go over it.
Sara Curto helps people find a career they love by teaching them a new way to job search.
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