Q: The job market has been picking up, and I’ve been sending out a lot of résumés, but I’m not getting invited to interviews. My current job has turned into a dead end, and I really want a change. What am I doing wrong?
A: Match your experience to each position you apply for, and get help from people you know to find opportunities.
The inner game
A successful job search requires a calm approach and a positive attitude. Let go of frustration with your current job and discouragement with your search. Center yourself, taking some breaths and envisioning a successful move to a new situation.
Now think through your job search so far. How have you been finding leads? Personal connections are the most productive way to find a new position, so if you haven’t been focused on that aspect, it’s time to change that.
When you do have leads, either from a job posting or a personal tip, consider whether you’re bringing your best approach to the application. If you’re sending out the same résumé to all positions you’re applying for, then there’s room for improvement.
What level of support are you getting from others? Job hunting can be difficult and draining, and family members can help, but they also can have their own anxiety about the situation. Consider other support options that might be available as you work on your plan.
The outer game
Think strategically — plan what you want to go after, and make it harder for companies to rule you out.
First, identify the position types you’d like to have and companies (or at least company types) you’d like to work for. For example, you may say that “I want to be in an accounting firm in a large company.” This will help you focus — it’s very easy to get distracted by off-plan “what ifs.” And, though it’s good to be open to new possibilities, in this case it could make it harder to reach your goal.
Knowing your goal, start telling the world! Mention your search to friends and acquaintances to see if they know of any opportunities. Be open to doing informational interviews in addition to applying for current openings so that you can become familiar with organizations — and they can get to know you.
When you send an application, take time to customize your résumé. Many HR departments use electronic keywords to scan applications, so you will not rise to the top if you don’t match the language in the job description. And even if a human is reviewing your résumé, seeing the company’s terminology in the application materials makes it easier for the person to find you.
Get help — alumni support, job centers, even a job coach — so that you’re making the most of the opportunities you see. Also don’t let the job search become your whole world. Schedule time to do your searching, and save time to have fun! Make sure you’re seeing friends, getting exercise, and doing activities you enjoy. This balance will sustain you, and you’ll be able to make a better impression at interviews.
The last word
Careful action will help you find the new position you’re looking for.
What challenges do you face at work? Send your questions to Liz Reyer, a credentialed coach and president of Reyer Coaching & Consulting in Eagan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.