If you are not gaining traction in your job search after months of trying, it’s time to take stock of what you’ve been doing. It’s not easy to engage in critical self-introspection. You’d like to think that you’re doing everything right, but no one is giving you a chance. That could be the case, but to play it safe, it makes sense to conduct a self-assessment and audit of your actions to determine if you’re doing your best in pursuit of a new job. Here’s a checklist to help you figure out if you need to improve your job search strategy and efforts.
1. Check Your Tone
It’s easy to become jaded, frustrated and angry with the interview process. It’s particularly stressful when we’re in the midst of a pandemic, millions of people are out of work, you’re stuck at home and the news seems bleak.
Although it’s understandable to feel aggrieved, you can’t let it show during the interview process. Hiring managers, recruiters and human resource professionals desire people who are positive, motivated, sharp and exude confidence. They feel that this type of person can add value, work well with others and contribute in a positive and meaningful way.
Be honest with yourself. Do you come across bitterly, talk badly about your past bosses and co-workers? It’s a big turnoff if you act like a resentful malcontent. With so many people seeking out new jobs, the people involved with the interview will take a hard pass and move onto someone who has a nicer disposition that fits in with the corporate culture.
2. Focus on the details
Take a fresh new look at your résumé, LinkedIn profile and social media presence. On the logistics side, you must ensure that your grammar, punctuation and spelling are accurate. Photos, background and any other graphic additions should be clear, in focus and serve to burnish your brand. Remember to include a phone number and email address, so people can easily contact you. Add links to projects that you’d like hiring managers to see.
Your responsibilities, past accomplishments and achievements should jump out at the reader and make them take notice. Be specific and quantify your success with data, numbers and examples. Make sure that whatever you write is the truth. If you embellish too much, it could blow up in your face during the interview and background check.
Make sure that your résumé, LinkedIn profile, elevator pitch and social media profiles and postings highlight your success, brand and core responsibilities. It’s imperative that you tell the reader what you want to do next, so that they understand your goals.
Interviews now—and for the foreseeable future—will be conducted via online videos. Ensure that you have all of the appropriate technologies and tools to succeed. Conduct trial runs to check if everything is working properly. This should include a check to determine if the picture quality is poor, connection spotty, background inappropriate for your brand, the lighting too dark and the mic doesn’t work well. Audit and remedy these inadequacies far in advance of the interview.
If you haven’t done so already, please practice online interviewing with some trusted advisors who can offer meaningful and actionable advice, feedback and critiques. Keep in mind your body language. Are you squirming in your seat, averting eye contact by looking everywhere else besides the camera lens, crossing your arms or noticeably getting distracted from the call?
3. Shooting yourself in the foot
Your job search is now your job and utmost priority. A thorough, well-thought-out strategy to achieve your objectives is necessary. We’re not in the type of job market in which you could just “wing it.” Just like a sports team has a game plan and a road trip requires a map or GPS system, the same holds true for your job search. Yes, you want a job, but you also need to have a daily system in place to execute your objectives on a consistent daily basis. If not, you’ll waste precious time going around in circles.
If you bombard a company with résumés and application submissions for over a dozen different job listings, this approach will epically fail. The corporate human resources and talent acquisition professionals will assume that you’re taking a scattershot approach to your job search and couldn’t care less about the job or company. To them, it’s like you’re throwing things against the wall and hoping that it sticks.
It’s smart to be conscious of other people’s time. When offered an interview, graciously inquire what days and times work best for them. Never provide a time-slot availability too early in the morning, late in the day or right before or after a long weekend. The interviewer may accept these awkward times, but inwardly resent you for making the person drag themselves into an interview at 7:30 a.m. after a long holiday weekend.
Much has been written about corporations ghosting candidates. Just because they do it, it doesn’t mean you should too. Don’t disappear during the interview process. If something comes up that requires you to reschedule a meeting or temporarily pull out of consideration, be polite and let them know what’s happening. They’ll understand. They won’t, however, understand if you go dark on them. They’ll think of you as rude or a flake and simply move on.
Review all of your actions—big or small. Continually ask yourself:
- Am I paying attention to the important details on my résumé, LinkedIn and social media?
- Does it represent me the way I’d like to be perceived?
- Do I come across positive and upbeat or downcast and surly?
- Should I devote more highly focused time to my daily job search?
- Is my tone and body language a selling point or ruining my chances?
- How am I acting—accommodating or inconsiderate?
Sometimes things boil down to the many small, incremental actions you take on a regular daily basis. Thoughtfully continue to check on what you’re doing. The aim is to ensure that you’re doing everything within your power to succeed in the job search.
Written by Jack Kelly