Energize a Stagnant Job Search – 7 Career Tips for Job Hunting

For those job seeking professionals that have been searching for a job for months or more, the whole job search process may seem a bit stale. Countless hours are often spent on job search websites and job search engines such as CareerBuilder.com, Dice.com, and Monster.com often resulting in minimal feedback. It is frustrating to go months without finding a job. Inevitability you begin to question career choices, your professional skills, experience, qualifications, or even your education. But you’re not alone. In times of high unemployment, a slow moving job market can create the appearance of a job search that becomes stagnated.

In this seven part series we will provide job search strategies and tips to revive your job hunt and reenergize your career confidence.

1) Part Time Job, a Temporary Job, or Volunteering

Seek out short term, part-time, or temporary work in your career field is a good way to get your foot in the door. Even if there does not seem to be any full time jobs opening any time soon, part time work and temp work is a way your employer can get to know you and your work ethic. If a job happens to open up or a new position is created, then you are at a higher advantage then others applicants who may be applying for that same job. You’ll have much more than a resume to show the company.

2) Work on your Personal Brand

If someone were to search for your name online, what, if anything would they see? In all likelihood, hiring you is a big investment to any company or organization. Especially in challenging economic times and an employer driven job market, companies are being more selective about their job applicants.

Take a few minuets and search for yourself online to determine what your digital footprint is. Do you share a name with someone that could create a career opportunity or a problem with your online image?

Use your personal brand to let the employer know your strengths, why they should hire you, and that you are a worthy candidate to investment in. If you remember, the personal brand is your life and professional skills as they appear online. You want your personal brand to be accurate and truthful, but you also want to it to make you look great to an employer. Your brand should reflect your overall qualifications, education, and indicate your career goals.

See what shows up in a Google search and a Yahoo search. Having a LinkedIn profile and profiles on other professional social networking sites can help to create a positive digital footprint. Your profile should be professional and consistent. Keep your information consistent with similar career goals and career objectives in each profile. Avoid blending social media and your online professional image. It is important to keep your private life PRIVATE. That is a mistake many people make with personal branding which may cost them being selected for that next job or opportunity.

3) Changing Careers or Branching Out to New Industries

Diversify you job search and branch out into new job markets you may not have considered in your previous job hunting strategies. Pick a career field, any career field and determine if your skills and qualifications would translate into new job opportunities.

That is not to say that you should just apply for the first job opening that presents itself. As a matter of fact, the opposite is true. Choose a career field that may benefit from your professional knowledge. Your best option is to look at a small geographic area and determine what employers are within this region. Examine what the area employer’s job positions and the job descriptions they are seeking and compare the qualifications to your resume. A midlife career change into a new industry can appear challenging but rewriting a career change resume and cover letter can quickly expand your employment options.

Examine your strengths. If you are not good with people, do not apply to personnel jobs. If you do not have an aptitude for math, do not apply for engineering or accounting jobs. Choose an industry or career field you know you can succeed in and focus your job search in that field. Perhaps you haven’t found a job yet because you are stretched across too many possible career paths. You may have missed an opportunity while you were wasting your time and applying to jobs that do not suit you. As a job search seems to drag on, it may seem tempting to try to apply for everything, but stay focused on your qualifications and job skills.

Be realistic about the types of jobs you are applying for. Most often when make a career transition into a new job market you will find yourself competing for more junior level positions then you would within your current career field. Changing careers may seem like a step backwards; yet showing potential future employers you are capable of taking on new challenges, have the foresight, and flexibility to expand your skill set across industries can become a strong asset.

4) Use Career Counseling and Career Advice Services

Get some help. If month after month has passed with no job offers or employment prospect you may need some help with your job hunt. You do not want to be put in a position where your financial obligations overtake you focusing on your job search.

Recent college graduates and college alumni can use their college’s career services department. Beyond employment listings and postings, many college career service departments offer interview preparation assistance, resume writing and career advice, and can assist you in choosing a career path. These services are often helpful when you are considering changing careers or at a career transition. Also, many companies seek out students from specific universities, colleges, and specific degree program or departments. A career advisor in the schools career services can connect you with these companies.

Beyond the college or university career services centers, look into what career placement services your local city or county provides. Contact your local chamber of commerce to begin your search for these types of local services. Many of these services are either free of charge or at a minimal fee to local residents.

Depending on your specific situation, consider hiring a professional career advisor or career counselor. A professional career counselor’s job is to help you figure out exactly what you want to do and advise you on how to maximize your resources and qualifications.

Before electing to get a career counselor, do some research on what services the career counseling service provides and what their recent candidate placement success rates are. This way, you will know what to expect as an end result. Will they help you find a career path, provide resume writing advice and interview preparation, placement services, and help you along the way? Do not be afraid to ask for help when the job search seems to be dragging on. Having a career advisor or an independent career service can help you revitalize your job hunt.

5) Is Your Resume Writing Reflective of your Career Objective

Refresh your resume and your professional image. If your job search appears stalled, take this time to review your resume and your overall professional image. This includes your cover letter, professional social media sites such as Linked-In, and your professional references.

If employers have already seen your resume and you have not received any responses back, then this might be your cue to give your resume a second look. Check your resume for spelling mistakes, typos, and poor grammar. Those are a definite turn-off to any potential employer.

Do you think your online resume would pass the 20 second test? Remember that 20 seconds is generally the amount of time an employer will spend looking over your resume. In that time frame, an employer will decide whether or not he or she will call you in for a job interview. If it has been a while since you have been called for any interviews, then this may indicate that your resume does not pass the 20 second test. Some resume writing changes may be necessary. Also, be sure that your resume is aesthetically pleasing and your resume qualifications, education, and experience properly flows together.

6) Using only Top Job Search Engines can Limit Your Career Options

Not all job search websites are created equal. Searching that next job opportunity using online job search engines can distribute your resume to many companies and employment centers. Although, not all job search websites are weighted the same for your professional career field or industry.

Major job websites like Moster.com and CareerBuilder.com are great choices to broadcast your resume skills and qualifications. However, your chances in getting noticed on these online job search sites are low. Thousands of career professionals and job seekers are posting and updating their resumes daily, and in a highly competitive job market, being too general with your career objectives may not result in you landing that job.

Take some time to research what are the best job search sites, specific to your industry or career objectives. If your career field is within the medical industry, look for those web sites that focus specifically on medical jobs or nursing jobs. Expand your career and look for part time job search opportunities to get into a company or organization.

Be focused and specific in your job search and make sure you are looking everywhere. Limiting yourself to just a few major job sites can be disastrous. Many of the jobs you are seeking may not be listed on the common and the most popular job search engines. So, try looking at lesser known job sites, and on industry specific ones. Check your local newspaper daily, especially on Sunday editions. Sometimes a job listing may be printed on only one day in the newspaper.

Keep checking your professional social networking sites and keep your eyes open for mentioning of possible job openings. You might be missing out on great opportunities by limiting your search to one place. If you are unemployed, be sure to tell everyone that you are looking. People talk and word will get around. Your friend’s cousin’s girlfriend may be in the Human Resources department in a company where they are hiring. You could be surprised where you find your next job. Whatever you do, do not stop looking until you find what you are looking for.

7) Revisit your Long Term Career Choices

What long term career planning steps have you considered throughout your professional career. Often times we can become comfortable and somewhat complacent within our chosen occupation after we have met certain education and experience requirements. However, over time we can loose our job security if our skills are not continually up to date or with economic shifts, technology innovations, or company restructuring.

If you find yourself in a position where there does not appear to be any jobs in your career field, they you may consider changing industries. Change can be good, but when you mention changing careers, often people confuse this with more schooling or education, significant changes in their schedule, or starting back at the beginning. While any change may require some retraining or new on the job knowledge, changing careers maybe easier then one would think.

Examine what parallel industries or other careers use your same talents. Seek out career counseling and take several career tests to help you determine what industries you maybe unaware of that use your qualifications. A career counselor can help you with this decision and provide you some inside knowledge on specific career fields. If you do not have a career counselor, then you may want think about who in your local area hire professionals with your skills and list all the things you loved about your old job. Then look for jobs that have those same qualities. You can also look at things you disliked about your old job, and look for jobs that do not have those qualities. Take a reputable personally or career test and consider jobs that work for your personality type.

The worst thing you can do is nothing, especially if you see major changes coming in your career field where your future employment could be effected. A proactive approach can open new doors and provide you with new career opportunities.

Job Application – Why Yours Was Rejected

It is only once their job application has been rejected, that most job seekers get an insight in why their job application failed.

Unfortunately this tells them that with some fore thought, they could have figured this out for themselves. Let me help you avoid these common mistakes, and give you some insider advice on how to maximise your job application success

Job Application: it’s a personnel thing

All job applications do not start with the job seeker, but with the employer. A job is approved inside an organisation through the combination of two forces:

  • Business need
  • The manager of the team in which the job will be fulfilled

This is an important insight, as it should tell you that the final decision on who is employed is made by that manager, and that the successful job applicant will be considered the most able to deliver the defined business requirements.

The result of these two forces is the creation of a job description, from which the job advert is derived. Only after the job is approved to this stage, does job application become a personnel process. But not recognising the human beings wholly in the personal exchange – the manager and the successful jobholder – is a key mistake of many job applicants

You and Your Job Search

A job application starts long before you start reading newspapers, crawling job boards, trudging to the Job Centre or chatting to friends. Your job search starts with you, and a clear definition of:

  • Who and what you are
  • What you hence offer
  • What you want to do/see yourself doing long term

If you don’t know what you want to do, then any job will do, and hence multiple job application rejection will follow

Job Market testing

Although you now know what you want to do, the jobs market may at that point in time not want those exact skills, in that search geography, for the pay level which makes economic sense to you. You need to test that the job market is offering that job at the right pay level, and this is where the real advantage of the jobs board driven job search becomes apparent.

Go to your favourite jobs board, keeping the title/skills consistent and setting the pay level to zero. Then open the geographic search criteria until the result shows at least 20 jobs. If you can’t find at least 20 suitable jobs, then your ideal job presently doesn’t exist in the jobs market. Either: go back to stage1 and think of another interim step to your ideal long term job; wait three months; or accept constant job application upset.

The second problem at this stage is having too many jobs to apply for. Again, go to your favourite jobs board, and if after filling in your desired criteria there are more than 100 job results returned, then go back and more closely define what you offer an employer/seek next and long term. Falling into any job will do syndrome means that you are not focusing sufficiently in the eyes of the employer on what you can do well/offer, and hence will be rejected.

Professional CV

Although it disappoints me to say it, as a Professional CV Writer if you approach your job search in a particular manner, you don’t actually need a Professional CV. But, for 95% of job applications, you will at some point in the legal and hence defined HR process need a CV. In the modern world, a one-size fits all CV just won’t get you the required telephone interview: the only output action required when an employer takes when presented with a good CV.

If like many today you heard a friend or someone in a pub used a free template successfully to get employed, make sure you don’t follow the herd: templates mean you don’t stand out from the crowd. Good Professional CV Writers create engaging 2page documents that make employers pick up the telephone, because they communicate that the job applicant has the desired skills to fit the job description, and show social fit with the organisation/manager. If your template doesn’t, how ever pretty it is or however long your list of hobbies and interests, expect to be rejected

Job Application Form

The one thing that job seekers fail continually to understand, and yet employment professional do, is that you can’t beat the odds of where you find and how you apply for jobs.

For instance, as an internal employee offered a promotion, your chances are 90%. For a known person interacting directly with a recruiting organisation, your chances are around 50%. Your best chance of getting employed via a public job advert, be that on a company website or via newspaper, are around 12% on average. Where as a “follow the process” application via a job sourced on a jobs board could easily be as low as 2%

So why do so many job seekers think that they will be successful spending more than 10% o the time on jobs boards? Rejection is bound into and dictated by the where your find jobs and how you apply

Job application confidence

This is the last point of job application rejection, and it is a general issue throughout the current job-seeking world: personal confidence. Job seeking in itself is a job, and it is a tough one. There is research, marketing, paperwork, cold calling, direct costs and worst of the lot: a high level rejection. Even the successful job seekers will be rejected at least once, which means that their success ratio is 50%. I haven’t yet met an unsuccessful job seeker who was in some way lacking in self-confidence. It is one of the reasons that I decided to in part cross the divide and become a CV Writer, because universally in most job searches the CV is a common point. If you read through this article, and are still wondering why you are rejected, then after looking in the mirror get out with friends and family and remember what’s important. After taking a break for a day or two, then go back to applying for jobs with renewed vigour, and seek some help in your job search.

In Part2, we will cover the actual job application process.

A job application is as easy as you make it for yourself, but the one big piece of inside advice you should take to avoid job application disappointment: if you don’t know you, what you offer, and what you want to do, then you will be: REJECTED!

Good Luck!

Employed in One Job Application?

I often get asked by job seekers, is it possible to get employed in just one job application? Of course the answer is yes, but it is difficult to make that positive and hence employed result consistent.

However, it is possible to become employed in far fewer job applications than 200 made over four months, the current statistics for the average job seeker. There are far better and more effective job application techniques which can easily get you employed in less than 30 days.

Job Interview = Dating

As an experienced recruiter or employer knows, the predictability of job search is impossible when it comes down to predicting the outcome of a job interview. Like many recruiters and HR professionals, I see this stage more like a dating exercise than a predictable or controllable set of outcomes. Much as though I may think that candidate A may be better, the employer hiring manager may like the equally good candidate B better – it’s just human chemistry!

So while interview technique and briefing each party may well allow good recruiters to achieve a 65% or slightly higher mix and prediction ratio, I have rarely seen many get consistently better results.

The interview stage is hence the biggest risk in trying to get employed in one job application, and it all comes down to human chemistry. That’s not controllable, but it is predictable.

Telephone Interview

Much like placing any job application, it is easily possible to pass a Telephone Interview, if you have read the job advert and have the required competencies – a Human Resources term for skills, qualifications and experiences (SQE).

The difference between a job application and telephone interview is quite simple: format of the communication. The information actually sought by the employer is not any different or often more extensive than that required in the job application. The only additional test is that what you claimed in the job application can actually be backed up with confidence in the telephone interview.

Job requirements?

I have always said, and wholly believe, that every essential requirement of the desired suitable job applicant can be found in the job advert. Yes, you can wholly improve your chances of gaining employment if you research and read around and about your potential employer – by as much as 200%, as you then read the wider interests of the organisation. But everything you need to known that the ideal job applicant should have is in the job advert.

Yet, time and time again, job applicants fail to read job adverts. I had considered that this was because job applicants couldn’t read, and it was but a poor reflection on our nations education system. But as it affects all categories of job application, I conclude in part this problem is derived from a candidates own drive, giving them what could be termed beer goggles!

Simply, the desire to be employed and get that dream job obviates and replaces an individuals ability to read a job advert. They read the title, look at the pay, and with jobs boards making it so simple, they just click to apply.

Communication and Rapport

One of the areas that I have concentrated on in the last five years is the most effective process by which to get employed. But it was only recently in conversation with a professional coach friend of mine that the final piece of the explanation as to why this process worked in the jigsaw of communication, and hence successful job application, clicked into place.

I said to her that I was now convinced that I had tracked the most effective process for any job seeker to get employed, and told her about some of the key tactics and decision points. I said to her that I knew that this was creating a better communication and hence engagement with the potential employer and hiring manager, but wondered if there was another factor at play by which to explain what was happening?

As an engineer by training, I had concentrated on effectiveness of process. In summary the job seeking system gets the job seeker ahead of the competition and closer to the hiring manager, effectively what a good recruiter does to win recruitment business. But as an NLP trained coach, she immediately understood what the process was creating: both the right communication at the right time; but also as a result, the right rapport with the employer and hiring manager. Thus in communication terms, it’s not just about what you communicate, but when, resulting in a build up of the right rapport; and hence employment.

Employed in one job application

We were recently approached by a potential client who wanted us to write her a Cover Letter, a service which we no longer provide as a stand-alone option. After talking to her, the office staff asked if I could directly talk to her, where by as a long term job seeker she needed some considerable help.

This lady was, like many long term job seekers, looking at a poor set of statistics and long term unemployment over 90 days, when the average job seekers success ratio has fallen by two thirds. She had seen a job that she really wanted, was fully technically qualified for, and having written her CV, all she needed was the perfect Cover Letter. Could we help?

I talked the job through with her, and as she had the supporting evidence of both the job advert and the job description, I could have fully analysed the job with just this information. But after a bit of searching – OK, 5 minutes in total using some very easily learnt boolean search techniques around Google, LinkedIn and the employers website – I managed to find a biography profile for the hiring manager.

System of how to get employed

Using all three of these pieces of information – job advert, job description and hiring manager biography – I created an SQE priority sheet. Some of these were hard technical factors associated with the job description, while some were soft factors, mainly associated with the profile of the hiring manager. I then compiled the priority sheet, and checked it using a simple technique to assure myself that the match between employer requirements and job application was as perfect as it could be. I have used this later technique in some job markets where there are very few jobs or employers, and it works superbly in gaining better job application statistics.

From the checked sheet, I then compiled the required Cover Letter, and again checked the output using the check technique on both the Cover Letter and her draft CV. Both were then adjusted again. I then got the job applicant to check the priority list using a very simple technique which both follows the defined employers application process, as well as breaks it. This is in no way an immoral or risky technique, but it drives through the candidates advantage and confirms the priority sheet.

Hiring manager job application

Interestingly at this point, something happened which I didn’t expect and yet was not surprised by: the employer offered our job seeker customer an Informational Interview! At this point after such a long period of unemployment, I had to temper her enthusiasm: honest, it’s just an informational interview outside of the formal HR employment process, which you will still later have to go through. You can get as much information about the job at this stage, but also need to treat it as a formal interview.

I knew the Informational Interview had gone well, as she called me two hours after the designated time slot that she had been allocated. The first piece of news was that the formal interview process was to be held two days later, and the second piece of news was that they had asked to undertake a formal background check, and should she agree? I asked her to think for five minutes about key issues that she wanted addressed, and were there any open questions left on the Informational Interview table? We hence compiled a follow-up thank you letter, accepting the interview date and confirming the ability to start background checks. Seven days later she started her new job!

Employed in one job application: possible, but…

I don’t, as I said at the start of this piece, believe that there are a fixed set of outcomes which can be wholly controlled to get employed in one specific job. The job interview comes down to human chemistry, which means that the outcome is at best a 65% chance of success.

But I do believe that job application technique, when best learnt and applied against the most successful techniques, it is possible to get employed quickly and in a timely manner. The reason the average job seeker presently gets 1 telephone interview per 20 job applications, and spends four months job searching is poor technique. If any of them figured out that it’s costing them on average nearly £10,000 in both lost income and additional costs, they would quickly do something much better, much quicker.

Simply put, if you can find 50 suitable jobs for which you are skilled and qualified for, then there is no reason why you should be unemployed. It really is that simple if you know the right job application technique. Plus, if you know it well and have access to the right information, possible to get employed in one job application.

Good Luck!