I also wondered why I couldn’t get hired. Having spent 15+ years as a Human Resources professional isn’t my only credential for being a job search coach; having failed miserably trying to get hired myself have me great insight to guide people through their own process of finding a new position.
253. That’s the number of jobs I applied for over a 6-month period back in 2011 when I was laid off after 11 years with the same company. 253 applications and 0 job offers. Here’s why:
Lack of Focus do you think I was genuinely interested in 253 openings? Or does it sound to you as though I applied for every position within commuting distance of my home? Sure, I was operating in full panic mode; it was the first time in my entire life that I had been unemployed! The more jobs I applied to, the better was my rationale. But a scattered, random approach is rarely successful. It wastes time and energy when you don’t focus on employers you’d want to work for and who will appreciate you as much as you appreciate the opportunity.
What to do instead Develop a short list of companies where you’d like to work based on their culture and available opportunities. Set your focus on this list. Network with your LinkedIn contacts who work there, soliciting their feedback on the company, its potential and its openings. Research the names of influencers at your target companies – heads of the department or team you hope to work on, or members of the human resources staff. See if these people are willing to connect with you on LinkedIn. Follow them on Twitter. Engage with those who you’ve targeted on social media by posting thoughtful, intelligent comments on their tweets or posts.
Recycled cover letter Why re-invent the wheel, I reasoned (foolishly) back then. Not as if I didn’t know better: when I was recruiting and hiring people, I auto-deleted every resume that came accompanied by a one-size-fits all cover letter. But when you’re applying to 253 jobs, who has time to customize?
What to do instead Realize first that while cover letters are rarely read, when they are read, they had better count. A cover letter is supposed to motivate the recipient to read your resume. The only way to do that is to give the recruiter hope that you are the answer to his or her problem of identifying the best candidate. So really read that job description. Identify the 2 – 3 most important needs the company has and write a cover letter that BRIEFLY demonstrates how you = the best response to that need.
Refusal to believe that ATS software might spit out my resume But it does and it did…most of the time.
What to do instead I hate it. I hate it. I hate it. And for the record, I never used ATS software myself, preferring my own intuitive ability to select the right candidates. But as I’ve written before, you need to learn how to work around it. Here’s how:
- identify the most important keywords from the job descriptions you’re interested in applying to
- embed them judiciously in your resume and cover letter
- assume that the above two suggestions might not work, and ask your network contacts at your target companies to personally forward your resume to the hiring manager when you apply for a job
After six months of unemployment (which I actually enjoyed because I had time to run longer distances, relax on the beach and take a badly needed class in Excel), I did get hired at a great company. And I didn’t even apply for it; a network contact on LinkedIn told the CEO of a company looking for a global HR director about me. We emailed, spoke on the phone, arranged several Skype interviews with non-local senior management, and I got hired.
Do you need help to get hired? Let’s talk