Seeking Job Search Tips

By John Challenger

Q. I was laid off from my job two months ago. I’ve been searching the job boards and sending out resumes, but I haven’t landed even one interview. What am I doing wrong?

A. Searching the job boards and sending resumes represent just a small fraction of the steps required in a successful job search. Unfortunately, the Internet has made it very easy to sit at the computer all day and respond to job postings. It has become the primary, if not sole, method by which people search for employment. However, these activities are, in fact, the least effective tools in the job seeker’s arsenal.

Those who make the Internet their primary job search tool are likely prolonging the time it takes to find a position. Overuse of the Internet also threatens to prolong the hiring process on the employer’s end, as well, by inundating employers with irrelevant resumes. Some human resource executives complain that for every qualified candidate that comes in from the Internet, there are 10 to 20 who do not even come close to being a good fit.

The more irrelevant resumes that hiring managers have to wade through in order to select the handful to bring in for interviews, the longer it takes to fill the position. One result of this has been the increased use of digital screening software that scans incoming resumes for keywords. Resumes without the right words are filtered out of the process. This will make it even more difficult for job seekers to get their resume in front of the hiring executive.

The key to a successful job search and the activity that should consume the most time and energy is meeting with people face-to-face. However, it is going to take more leg work to get face-to-face meetings than simply sending a resume and cover letter.

Your ability to obtain meetings and interviews stems from the strength of your network. For that reason, any time not spent in interviews should be devoted to building, managing and “working” your network. You probably already have a network of friends and family. Start with them. Let everyone know that you are seeking a job. Keep up connections with former associates or perhaps there were vendors that you dealt with on a regular basis who might be able to help you.

The other way you can quickly expand your network is to get involved with local trade or professional associations related to your occupation or the industry in which your skills are most relevant. These groups often provide mentoring opportunities and typically conduct networking and professional development events.

Next, identify employers where your skills are needed. Maybe they are hiring; maybe they are not. That is not important. What is important is meeting with individuals who can help your job search, either by providing advice or, more importantly, providing names of other people who are in a good position to help. This is where the Internet is most useful, as many corporate websites list the names of managers and executives.

Start with a call instead of a resume and cover letter. If you fail to get through, attempt to contact the individual by email. Do not even ask about job openings. Instead, approach them as someone seeking guidance. You will find that people are much more willing to sit down with you for 30 minutes to dole out advice, versus sitting down to conduct a job interview.

In addition to sound advice that pertains to your occupation or industry, you may walk away with a couple of new contact names. You will find your network growing exponentially. Sooner than you think, one of these contacts will say the magic words, “I can put you in touch with so-and-so; I think his company is looking for new people.”

Other SMW Career Articles
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What’s Your Brand
Surviving the Group Job Interview
John Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board.