It’s a tough job market...no question about it! People that previously seemed to be able to jump into a new job fairly quickly after a lay off, are having much longer stretches of unemployment these days.
I had a person in one of my job search classes recently who was downright angry that his previous job search method wasn’t working. The last two times he had to look for a new job (both during booming economies) all he had to do was post his resume on a job board and wait for the calls, interviews, and offers. It took him less than a month each time. Now he posts his resume everywhere and hears NOTHING! He’s been unemployed for several months and is ticked!
Finding a new job today requires different methods and much more initiative than it has in many years. Unfortunately, many...perhaps most...people are trying to apply what worked in the past in a new set of circumstances. Much (certainly not all) of their delay in landing that next position is due to self-imposed causes.
In no particular order, here are eight:
~ A focus on themselves. When looking for a position, people are often too focused on what they want vs. what the company wants or requires. A resume that states something like: “Seeking a role as a Financial Analyst in a dynamic company with growth opportunities” says nothing about how the company will benefit by hiring you and everything about what you wish for yourself. Frankly, they’re not particularly interested in what you want, they have problems to solve and work that needs to be accomplished. How are you their solution for that? This is a critical perspective to keep in mind in resumes, networking meetings, and interviews.
~ An unwillingness to get out and actually talk to people. Cruising job boards and sending in a resume is not going to produce results in this market. Most people spend the vast majority of their job search time looking at ads, however, only 12% of jobs are filled through online ads. Over 80% of jobs are filled through various forms of networking. Networking is most effectively accomplished through conversations with actual people, by phone or face-to-face. It may be easier to stare at a computer screen, but results come through human interaction.
~ Lack of persistence. In sales (and a job hunt is sales), a sale is rarely made on the first, or even a second call. Persistence pays! If one person in an organization says they don’t have an opening or aren’t interested in your background...DON’T QUIT THERE! Someone in my class recently got a job at a company through the 5th person he called there. The previous 4 ALL told him there were no related openings. Most people would have quit after the first conversation. It’s critical to be persistent.
~ Fear of imposing on people. The vast majority, especially in this market, want to be helpful in some way. Often they don’t know how they can, but if you’re prepared with suggestions (outside of asking if they know of a job), they will usually be glad to help out. Most job seekers think they are imposing or ‘stalking’ someone LONG before the person they are pursuing feels that way. If people don’t know you’re looking, they can’t help you. Make a list of everyone you know, contact them and ask for referrals.
~ Only doing what most other job seekers do. When sending a resume and waiting for a call, they are doing the same thing as 90% of all applicants do. They are no more to that company than a piece of data that arrived into their email box or database. Companies don’t hire data, they hire people. Without a human voice or face they will not get noticed out of the sea of other resumes. Use tools available to you like LinkedIn to find the right person to talk to or like Twitter to gain information and get noticed. Then make those calls!
~ Lack of follow-up. Very often, it’s the little things that make the difference. A Thank You note or follow-up phone call are often the only thing that tips the scale toward one person over another. Don’t take lightly the value of calling to follow up on a resume, or sending Thank You notes after EVERY interview or conversation.
~ Lack of professionalism. Skills and competence are important for a position, however, in today’s market it’s highly likely they are seeing a number of people that can do the job. It’s the finer points that usually make the difference as to who gets hired. Communication skills, speaking concisely, appearance, respectfulness, personality...all components of professionalism will determine who wins.
~ Poor attitude. No one wants to hang out with a grouch, or complainer, whiner, or someone who’s a general downer! Attitude is often the number one reason why someone moves forward in a hiring process or gets rejected. Speaking ill of a previous employer or position is widely understood to be a no-no… however, is one of the most common occurrences. Check your attitude before every call, meeting, or note.
Different times require different measures. When the economy is booming and companies have difficulties finding enough people to accomplish various jobs, most people can find new positions relatively quickly. However, when each opening has a multitude of qualified candidates applying, other factors besides skills carry more influence in a hiring decision.
Check your job search process and make sure you aren’t limiting your own success!