I’m sure that very few readers of this blog have ever used a pen or pencil to circle jobs in the help wanted ads of a newspaper. Sometimes, I feel nostalgic for those days. At least you knew there was an actual job opening when a company paid to put something in the paper!
Things have changed a lot. I work with many job seekers who get discouraged when they submit hundreds of resumes and cover letters online but don’t receive a single response. Not even a rejection letter.
Here are 7 handy tips for any job hunters who are feeling low.
- In some industries, most openings are never even posted because they go to internal applicants or to someone who knows someone. At universities, where I have worked, they are obligated to post each position for 5-10 days even when they have identified an internal candidate. But essentially, we are wasting people’s time because we know all along who is going to get that job.
- Hiring managers are besieged by applications. For every position I have posted in the past few years, I have received well over 200 applications. In other industries, the number can be far higher. So, you have to make your letter and resume stand out. The easiest way to do that is to prominently incorporate the key words in the job posting into your documents. Make it easy for the hiring committee to see that you are a perfect match.
- Estimates about the percentage of jobs that are found via “connections,” “networking,” or “informational interviewing” vary, but they are high. Most say about 70-80%. That’s way more than half, so if you don’t know how to network, make connections and conduct informational interviews, it pays to figure it out. It takes preparation and no little bit of courage because you have to put yourself out there to make it work.
- Before you go to a job interview, practice with someone whom you trust. Research the firm. Know the mission and vision cold. Look up the questions you might be asked, and rehearse. A lot. In your responses, always focus on what you can do for the organization, not what they can do for you.
- At the interview, have great questions for the interviewers when they ask what you would like to know. Always have three prepared. If you ask no questions, you will seem disinterested or, worse, like a know-it-all.
- Write a thank-you note. The same day. Address one to each person, and try to say something relevant about each of their questions or responses to yours. Keep it short, and don’t be obsequious or self-serving. Make sure your enthusiasm comes through.
- If you get discouraged, because this can be a very disheartening process, remember that the reason you weren’t hired probably has nothing to do with you, and much more to do with the internal politics of the place. Try not to take it personally, and forge on. Do good things for yourself, and believe that the right thing will come along.