Your Biggest Job-Search Problem

  • Article by: KEVIN DONLIN , Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • Updated: September 15, 2008 - 9:27 AM

If your job search has been a long process, have you tried to figure out why? Is there anything that is standing in your way? What is your biggest job-search problem?

Your Biggest Job-Search Problem

If you’re looking for a job and haven’t found one yet, by definition, you have a problem.

There’s something standing between you and employment.

What is it?

Surprisingly, when I ask most job hunters what their #1 job-search problem is, they answer, “I don’t know.”

Think about that. How can you solve a problem if you don’t know what it is?

So, the first step is to define your biggest job-search problem. Only then can you solve it effectively.

Here's how ...

1) What’s Your Biggest Job-Search Problem?

What’s the one thing which, if you could fix it, would quickly result in your getting your ideal job, at your ideal salary?

Write all the possible problems down on paper without censoring yourself.

Some examples:

  • I send my resume to employers … and nothing happens
  • I can’t get past HR gatekeepers and meet with hiring managers
  • I’m getting interviews, but no job offers

 

After you write down all your problems, rank them in order, from big to small.

Now, choose your biggest, most-frustrating problem.

Congratulations! You’re ready for …

Step 2) How Do You Solve Your Biggest Job-Search Problem?

Heh. That’s a trick question.

Why?

If you actually wrote down your #1 problem, you are halfway to solving it already.

That’s because when you outline a problem in writing, you demystify it. Defined on paper, a problem loses most of its power to frighten. It’s like turning on the light after a nightmare -- there’s nothing scary under the bed when you get a clear look at things.

So, with most of the fear factor gone, you can now solve any job-search problem by restating it as a question, with the help of one word: How.

To illustrate, here are the problems from earlier, restated as questions:

  • How can I make sure employer get my resume?
  • How can I get past HR gatekeepers and meet with hiring managers?
  • How can I turn more interviews into job offers?

Now -- on paper, because that’s the only way to think clearly -- let’s brainstorm possible solutions ...

Problem: How can I make sure employer get my resume?

Possible solutions: Let’s define “send my resume.” For most people that means email. And email is about as reliable as the pony express.

So, you need to know if your email was received and opened.

The simplest way is to pick up the phone, call the employer, and say: “I’ve been having some trouble with spam filters. Could you verify that you got the resume I emailed you yesterday?” Here, spam is your friend -- I’ve met several job seekers who turned such a phone call into a long conversation that led to an interview. Try it.

Or, try a free email notification service like MSGTAG (www.msgtag.com), or search Google for “read receipt email” and “delivery receipt email” for other solutions.

But why limit yourself to email? Let’s brainstorm further …

Why not differentiate yourself by printing and sending your resume (with cover letter) to the decision maker by postal mail?

Find their name by calling the employer and asking for the correct spelling of the person in charge of your department -- that’s likely your future boss. You can also find names at www.jigsaw.com and www.zoominfo.com.

Bonus: Make contact with people at your target company and ask them to walk your resume into a manager’s office the same day you submit it by email. This can start a conversation among executives that pushes your name to the top of the pile.

Problem: How can I get past HR gatekeepers and meet with hiring managers?

Possible solutions: Why not go around the gatekeepers?

Instead of going through HR and hoping to make it to the next security checkpoint, start at the top by contacting the person you want to work for -- they can then call down to HR and put you on the interviewing schedule.

In any case, strive to meet someone at your target employer. You may already know someone there. Or, someone they know may know someone.

Online, you can make contacts at LinkedIn.com and Facebook.com.

Offline, call the five most-successful people you know and ask, “What would you do if you were in my shoes?” This simple question instantly engages listeners and can produce a slew of solutions for any job-search problem -- try it.

Problem: How can I turn more interviews into job offers?

Possible solutions: Job interviews are like golf swings. No matter what you’re doing wrong, others have faced the same problem -- and solved it.

As in golf, you need to identify what you’re doing wrong, then practice new techniques. You’ll likely find the answers from a book or a coach. Amazon.com is full of the former. The latter can be found by Googling “job interview coach” for helpful links.

Now, go out and make your own luck.


Kevin Donlin is Creator of TheSimpleJobSearch.com. Since 1996, he has provided job-search help to more than 20,000 people. Author of 3 books, Kevin has been interviewed by The New York Times, Fox News, CBS Radio and others. His free report, The Simple Job Search Manifesto, is found at www.TheSimpleJobSearch.com
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