As much as I wish I could give you an answer right now, there’s no one absolute for-sure reason that you aren’t getting a job. And sometimes you really are doing everything right and it’s just a matter of time.
But just in case, I’d like to give you a handy-dandy job search checklist of the most likely reasons that you and your new job haven’t yet been introduced!
1. Basic job search tools
Resume – Here’s the thing I’ve found about resumes: sometimes you can’t accurately evaluate your own resume. You may look right at it and see how perfect it is, but I might get it as a resume screener and within a few seconds put it in the “no” pile. And you may never know why.
So if your job search has not been getting you to interviews, the first place to check would be your resume.
- Is it attractive, easy to read and free of typos and grammatical errors?
- Can the reader easily focus on resume elements that point directly to the new job?
- Does it paint a picture of where you want to go and not just where you’ve been?
Cover letter – Cover letters are your chance to focus the employer’s attention even more exactly on why you are such a great fit. Don’t just dash off a quick “Here’s my resume. Thank you for your kind attention.” It could be the tipping point, so you want to make every word count – and make sure it looks professional.
Your resume and cover letter together are all they have of you. Don’t assume employers can read between the lines. Target each one to the specific job – and polish them until they shine before sending!
=> More: Helpful Tips for Resumes and Cover Letters (with Examples)
LinkedIn Profile – If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet or if it is not in synch with your resume and the type of jobs you’re applying for, this is a great time to fix that. Make sure you have a good picture with a warm smile and that you pay attention to the profile title and key words related to the job you want.
Your smile – OK. This one may seem like a bit of a throwaway as a “basic tool”, but don’t underestimate the power of a smile in your job search. Sometimes we get so serious, we forget that in the end folks like to help (and hire) people who are likable … and who can maintain a smile even in the toughest of times.
Not a mindless grin, of course. But just remember that what you feel and what you project can make a huge difference. So let’s look at that more closely in the next section.
2. Mental framework
In the end, whether you get hired or not depends on whether the employer thinks you will be an asset to their team. And while skills are certainly an important part of the decision, arguably the thing that can make or break your job search is the impression you make beyond just basic skills.
Mindset – Are you someone who is not only open to possibility but welcomes it? Do you see networking and interviews as a chance to grow and learn, or just a means to an end? OK. I hear some of you thinking … well, it IS a means to an end. A chance to finally get myself a job.
Amen. I hear you. But people who succeed in job interviews – and life – often have that little extra aspect of what some call a growth or expansive mindset. And you convey this even in the way you answer interview questions or talk to potential networking contacts.
You embrace possibility and are open to learning new things and taking on new responsibilities beyond what you already feel certain about.
Self-image and attitude – Going along with an expansive mindset is the knowledge that somehow, some way you will find an answer – or someone who will help you get to that answer. It’s a belief in yourself and your capabilities even in times of challenge. And it’s seeing the glass half full … even if it’s a little hard to do so sometimes.
Since job search can knock the stuffing out of even the most confident person, it’s important to do a little check-in as to how you’re doing in the self-image category. And remind yourself of things you’ve done in your life that went well. You’re still the same great person.
Don’t laugh, but this post has some tips that may help:
Flexibility – I added this because flexibility is an extremely useful trait in job search, as well as for the rest of your career. It can even play a role when you have your heart set on one type of job or a minimum salary.
Although it may feel counter-intuitive, you sometimes can actually reap long-term benefits by thinking differently about what may or may not work for you at the moment:
Most job seekers have heard of networking, but I’m not sure everyone knows what it really is or how to do it effectively. If you’ve reached out to a few people or joined an online group and think that’s enough, please take a moment to read this:
And remember that people are more likely to help when they see you taking action and moving forward – and not being stuck in the past. As long as you are still looking for a job (and even after you have the job) networking plays an important role in career success.
SO IMPORTANT: The network you build now … slowly and remembering to offer help and not just take it … will be there for the rest of your career!
4. A unifying career story
You may have a great resume and cover letter and a mental attitude that anyone would be proud of, but what if the career story that you’re telling just doesn’t make sense for the new job you’re going for? Your career story is an essential part of your job search.
Part of your preparation for both networking and interviews is looking at where you’ve been as well as where you want to go … and finding as many links and transferable skills as possible. And then making sure employers and people you’re asking for help really get the connections. And get your heartfelt enthusiasm so they want to invest in you!
5. Going the extra mile
Anything and anyone can provide a helpful possibility when you are in job search mode. You shouldn’t make it painfully obvious to them in every circumstance, but you still need to have a job-possibility alert system turned on in the back of your mind.
Read articles about companies you’re interested in. Follow people on Twitter and LinkedIn who you might learn from. Hone your skills if you get feedback saying it’s not enough – or if you want to go somewhere you’ve never been.
Just sending resumes and waiting is leaving too much in other people’s hands. This is the time to look for what YOU can do to get to that job you want.
And if you’ve tried everything you can think of and still feel stuck, it just might be time for a career coach. Sometimes even a little extra support can make all the difference.