Halloween is a day about getting scared – on purpose – and also about facing our very real fears. Prospective clients often ask if I can help them break out of a suffocating job search. They tell me that “everything they try” is not working. When we talk a bit more, what I often discern is the following:
- They have not settled on a target audience for their job search (or even a small set of audiences) but are sending out applications all over the place.
- They are not tailoring their applications to specific opportunities.
- They are relying mainly on sending their resumes into the “black hole” of online applications rather than leveraging contacts who may have or know about opportunities.
- They are limiting themselves to on-the-job experiences rather than seeking out additional outlets to grow their skills.
The problem with this approach is two-fold. First, while you can get lucky and get a “hit” on a great job – if you are a convincing candidate during the interview process – it rarely works to have a scattershot approach to your job search. Second, it wears you out, so you feel suffocated by the job search rather than energized by it.
Here is the better approach:
- Get very clear on your long-term and short-term goals. Figure out which audiences you are targeting, so you can refine your pitch and make each application count.
- Tailor your cover letter and resume to the field and type of role, with specific tweaks that relate to the specific job to which you are applying.
- Build and work your network. Keep online applications to a minimum, e.g., 10% of your overall job search. Get out there and create a pipeline of contacts through calls and face-to-face meetings, including informational interviews.
- Find coursework, individualized study or volunteer opportunities, or look for ways to supplement your current job, to get you closer to your end goals.
No one wants to hire a candidate who is visibly floundering or suffocating from an ineffective job search, and it often shows when you are stretched thin. Break out of the cycle and make the best use of your precious time invested in your search. Not only will you have more interest from employers – which can raise your confidence level and fuel your energy – but you will perform better in the vetting process to achieve greater career-search success.
Anne Marie Segal is a career and leadership coach, author and resume writer for attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs. Her book on job interviews, Master the Interview, includes an entire chapter devoted to building one’s job search network.
Image above from Shutterstock.