It’s a safe assumption that if you’re looking for work, you’re experiencing the frustration that comes along with it. For some people it’s the outright rejection by potential employers, and for others what they find most annoying is totally being ignored without the courtesy of a reply. After all, at least with an automated response indicating your application has been received, you know it made it. When you don’t even get that, how do you know they even got it in the first place?
There is a group of people out there of an undetermined size who I personally feel the most sympathy for. These are the people who listen to all the advice they hear, take steps to correct job searching mistakes, revise resumes and cover letters to target jobs, follow-up on applications, and still get extremely little positive results. Is it hard to maintain a positive outlook and stay optimistic that a job is just around the corner when you keep getting nowhere? You bet it is.
After all, no matter who you are and no matter what you’re doing, we all need some indication that the efforts we are taking and the work we are investing is actually making a difference. This is really about seeking validation. Validation simply put with respect to job searching translates into making corrective changes in how one goes about job searching and then having those changes validated by getting job interviews, making the short-list, being offered jobs – in other words, moving forward.
I myself have helped a large number of people over the years with various job searches. A usual starting place is to determine at what stage in the job application process the person is stuck and needs help. If someone was getting interviews but not getting second interviews or job offers, it could signal that the interview stage is the area of concern. If someone wasn’t getting any interviews, or extremely few, it might signal the area of most concern is the application itself consisting of the cover letter and resume. While the person might have interview issues to be resolved too, not much point concentrating on those initially if interviews aren’t being granted.
But the group of people I’m speaking of here are the ones that are job searching using all the advice that they can find. There is no guarantee that doing everything a professional suggests is going to translate into a job. Were this the case, you’d be foolish to ever try to search for work without engaging someone in the field to help you.
No one has all the answers, and it’s hard to know exactly what any given employer will actually want and demand in their applicants beyond what they make publically available. You can only research so much after all, and companies aren’t going to disclose their interview questions ahead of time and all the various things that will go into their hiring decisions. But having said this, it is often the case that employers DO share a great deal of what they are looking for in order to attract the people closest to what they want, which in turn gets them a field of applicants from which to choose their next employee, and this also reduces their costs connected to an employee search.
The advice I would give any and all applicants in this situation is this: Search and get all the advice you can on your entire job search process. If you are working with an Employment Counsellor, ask if you can walk them through the process you undergo when applying. Show them the posting to start with, then show them the research you conducted before even writing your cover letter. Then show them the cover letter and the resume you constructed for the job. Point out how the cover letter responds to the needs of the employer, demonstrates your high level of enthusiasm for the position, and how you’ve crafted your resume to match up with the needs of the employer. Then walk them through your follow-up efforts. Having done all this, sit back with pen and paper, ask for feedback and take notes.
Of course if you haven’t done the things outlined in the paragraph above, those are things you should be doing to increase the probability of success. If however you have done all of these things are poised pen in-hand, resist the urge to defend yourself if constructive criticism is offered. Most people who are asked to give feedback are quite willing to do so, but they may only touch on the obvious surface issues and not get to more serious flaws if they sense hostility and resistance. The result is you could walk away thinking you’ve addressed the big issues when you haven’t.
Another thing by the way, is that if you are dealing with someone who is providing job search assistance, there is one more thing you can do. Apply all the ideas given and if no results are forthcoming, return to the person, and ask what else you can do. If they have further ideas, consider them. If however, they say it’s just a numbers game and they are out of ideas, thank them for their input and move on. Most people providing assistance relish challenges and the opportunity to work with dedicated job seekers.
It is frustrating but don’t give up or give in…you deserve success.