What can you do when you’re faced with a stalled job search?
Have you been applying to hundreds of jobs without getting a response? Maybe you’ve been on dozens of interviews but still haven’t received an offer. Or are you convinced that networking is a waste of time? Most job seekers become frustrated or discouraged at some point during the process.
Here’s the deal. You need to figure out where in the process you’re getting eliminated. If you’re not hearing back after applying for jobs, then you’ll need help with your resume and application. If you’ve had interviews, but no job offers, you’ll want to brush up on your interviewing skills. You can try these tips to improve your outcomes and keep a positive outlook even during a stalled job search.
How will you get your job search on track so you can secure a new job more quickly?
Seek Advice From Fellow Job Seekers
Teaming up with other job seekers serves two purposes. First, they know exactly what you are going through and can share, first-hand, how they dealt with a similar stalled job search. Second, people going through job search can serve as accountability partners and help provide motivation and candid feedback.
Joining or starting a job search team is one of the best ways to stay motivated and troubleshoot your job search. When you are unemployed, you may feel like you’ve lost your identity, your colleagues and a support system. Many job seekers feel this loss, so you aren’t alone. Often called job clubs or power networking groups, you can find groups through your local One-Stop career center, Department of Labor or library. If you’ve never been unemployed before, you probably don’t know about these groups, but they exist. It just might take some asking around to uncover them.
Understand Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)
Your resume is probably the reason for a stalled job search if you’ve applied to hundreds of jobs online without a single response. Do you really understand how applicant tracking systems or ATS work? The data you enter and the documents you upload, if given the opportunity, should be tailored for the job. The skills you include in your resume and application should be the same skills the employer is requesting in the job description. Here’s what I mean by this. If your last employer used a term like “customer care” but the job posting requests “customer advocacy,” and they mean the same thing, you should use “customer advocacy.” If you have a question about the application, by all means, call the employer to avoid making mistakes that might eliminate you.
Don’t try to cut corners by entering “see attached resume” on your application.
Don’t Waste Time Surfing Job Boards
Searching job boards for suitable jobs, filling out applications and tailoring your resume takes a significant amount of time, therefore, you’ll want to invest your time wisely. Begin by creating a list of companies you would like to work for. These companies may not have immediate openings, but they will in the future. You should go to the companies’ career pages and set alerts to be notified when new jobs are posted.
Next, begin researching your target companies and reaching out to people who work there. These conversations will arm you with information you can eventually include in your application and resume. Proactively targeting companies and networking can often result in advanced notification about jobs. Another bonus is that you may get a referral from a company insider which will boost your chances of getting an interview.
Embrace Networking By Defining It Differently
Most people don’t like networking. That’s because they feel like they are asking for favors or being self-promotional. Networking really means sharing information and building mutually beneficial relationships. If you redefine it, you might change what you say and do during your next networking encounter.
Start by reconnecting with people you know and show interest in the work they do. Who knows, you may learn a thing or two. And listen carefully for the opportunity to share information they may find useful. Not necessarily information about YOU but something that could help them. Maybe you met someone recently who does something similiar. You could offer to introduce them. Or maybe you read a relevant article you think they might be interested in. Offer to share it.
By creating mutually beneficial relationships, you won’t feel like you are using people to get what you want. Be patient and don’t expect a job offer in return. Eventually, the person will ask about you. You’ll need to have a short (30 second) answer to what you do. You also have the chance to either ask for information about companies you are interested in, inquire about trends in your field or some other question you want their advice or opinion on. Remember, networking is not asking for a job.
Tap Into Social Media
Networking happens online too. Think about all the people you know through Facebook or Instagram. Your friends often ask questions or ask for help, you can too! Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to share your quest for a new job, or your stalled job search, with your friends. Make it easy for them to help by listing some companies you would like to work for and specific roles you are interested in.
Employers are using social media to search for candidates and announce job opportunties as well, so you’ll want to be active and visible online.
Reframe Your Interviewing Mindset
Have you had numerous interviews, but never a job offer? While you won’t get every job you interview for, you can increase your interview success by approaching it with a different mindset.
The good news is that it’s unlikely that you would be invited to interview if the employer didn’t think you were qualified. You may be falling short because you fail to know enough about the role. Try playing the role of a consultant. Imagine that the interview is a meeting between you and your client and you are trying to uncover what the hiring manager really needs. The questions you ask should help you understand why the company needs someone in the role and what types of problems need solving. Questions like: What do you expect the new employee’s outcomes to be in a month, six months and a year? How will you know you hired the right person for the job? And don’t forget to ask why the position is available.
Once you clarify the real needs, you can present qualifications and success stories that match what the employer needs.
Always Think Like A Hiring Manager
If you understand the needs and concerns of the hiring manager, you should be able to present yourself as a solution to their problem(s). In most cases, hiring managers want to hire someone who will fit on the team and who will perform the job without a lot of supervision. The selected candidate will also fit within the budgeted salary. During each phase of the application process, the hiring manager is assessing candidates against the list of needs and wants.
Always provide proof you are exactly what they need in your resume, online portfolio or LinkedIn profile, and during the interview process.
A stalled job search can be revitalized with a little hard work and preparation. Change your mindset, get motivated, and get your future back on track.
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Career Sherpa.
About the Author: Hannah Morgan is a career sherpa, guiding new job seekers through the treacherous terrain of job search. If you are looking for no-nonsense advice, check out her site Career Sherpa. And follow Hannah on Twitter for the latest job search news and trends!