I’m going to say something that might not be popular with my readers:
If you are not getting a job offer, it is time to consider that you might be the problem.
There, I said it.
I felt I had to say something, because I see so much posted these days about difficult job searches and unfair interview processes.
Here’s what I see:
“The system is broken! Can’t they see I’m qualified? I have all the right skills!”
“That stupid recruiter! Why aren’t they contacting me? They expect me to have experience that I need to acquire by getting the job!”
“They are ghosting me! What jerks!”
“Didn’t they see that I can do the job? What do they expect from me?”
“They asked really stupid questions! They expect us to be able to do the work of 3 employees.”
“The interview process is broken!”
“They just ignored me after three interviews! That is so wrong. Why do I even try?”
I do agree that employers don’t always handle things well.
But I also see lots of people getting hired anyway. And the one thing they seem to have in common is that they “own” the process and their part in it.
See, here’s the problem:
Most people will default to the lowest-effort strategy to find a job. They will peruse the job ads, find roles that seem to fit them, and then submit resumes, hit send, and sit back and wait.
The silence can be deafening.
Ultimately, if they don’t get responses, many of these job seekers will then default to blame.
If they do get interviews, but no offers, the situation is much the same. It’s the system’s fault.
Yeah, okay. I read a lot of articles about how hiring practices have to change if companies want qualified employees to come on board and stick around for an appreciable length of time.
And there’s truth in it.
But here’s the problem with most of this complaining:
This is not the most productive way of approaching things.
Ranting online could actually cost you an opportunity. And it’s not going to change your situation right now.
Here’s my take on what actually might benefit you—and really work—if you decide to take a breath and readjust your mindset.
Here are some (proven) effective steps I coach my clients to take:
(Full disclosure: These take work and commitment.)
1. Check your mindset. Are you still angry about your layoff? Are you feeling emotionally vulnerable about your situation? Take some time to gather yourself. Start writing down the things you are grateful for. Talk to a therapist or a friend about how you are feeling. Get some exercise. It can drastically shift your attitude!
2. Do the work to establish what you are aiming for. Review the values that drive you. Revisit your career path. Take note of what you enjoyed and what no longer serves you. Keep that list handy as you search.
3. Know what’s out there and how you fit in. Research the industry and companies that interest you. Talk to people who already work in target roles, or for target companies. Find out what the landscape is like so you can decide if the direction is right for you. Find out what the interview process is like.
Applied, but haven’t been successful?
1. Review the job requirements, then look at how you are explaining your candidacy. Could it be that you are not going far enough to demonstrate the results you have achieved using the desired skills? Are you merely describing skills and duties, or are you providing quantifiable results that have made a difference for your employers?
2. Have you done enough to amplify the aspects of your career that make you different from your competitors? Sometimes you need to take things a step further than the requirements from a job ad. You may have accomplished goals that demonstrate you are multi-faceted and bring additional expertise to the job. Those should be on your resume!
3. What do you know about the problems facing your target employer? Are you prepared to talk about how you might help them approach these? Can you show that you understand them and their culture? Prepare yourself to talk with them as though are “one of them.”
4. Have you practiced talking about yourself and your accomplishments? If you felt a bit tongue-tied in your interview, that’s a sign you need to prepare better. A coach might be a great investment.
Remember that the people interviewing you don’t know you. They see only what you provide and present. If they don’t pick you, it’s because something’s missing. You are not making a strong enough case for your candidacy.
You have a lot more control over your job search than you believe. You have the power to present yourself as you wish to be seen. You have the ability to prepare materials that will showcase your abilities and achievements. You have the freedom to tell your career story in a resonant and memorable way.
I promise you that if you keep to this way of thinking, you will eventually be able to stop blaming the “system” and start putting your best self out there to find that match with an employer who sees your value and snaps it up.