How's Your Job Search Going?

  • Article by: KEVIN DONLIN , Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • Updated: July 13, 2009 - 1:48 PM

Does your job search need a jumpstart?

If so, it pays to sit down and analyze your situation. You should carefully question everything you're doing. Careful, though -- the wrong questions can be harmful to your career health.

Example: Never ask yourself questions like, Why can't I find a job? Or, why won't anyone hire me?

Such “Why” questions will prompt your brain to give you excuses instead of answers -- you’re too old/too young/too experienced/too stupid, etc. There’s not much you can do about being young or stupid, is there? Which just leads to more frustration.

  Instead, when analyzing your job search, ask yourself empowering “How” questions like, How can I generate just one networking lead today? Or, How can I meet someone who works at General Mills?

Such “How” questions lead to actionable ideas like these: You could call an old buddy from high school, someone you worked with two years ago, a neighbor who works for General Mills, etc.

See the difference?

Let’s follow this logic and replace two common “Why” questions with more-effective “How” questions that can get you hired faster … 

1) Why is my job search taking so long?
This is exactly the sort of “why” question many unemployed folks ask themselves every day. Unfortunately, it will produce more frustration than answers.

Instead, examine every aspect of what you’re doing to find a job and ask yourself this “How” question: How could I improve this?

Analyze the following:

  • Where you look for job leads each day (online and offline)
  • The resume and cover letters you send out -- have they been proofread by someone else?)
  • Your networking activities -- how many people have you added to your network this week? This month?
  • Your job interview skills -- when is the last time you practiced by videotaping yourself or talking to yourself in a mirror?

If you could improve each of those areas by just 10%, you would gain an overall 40% increase in the effectiveness of your job search. Do that and you can’t help but get hired faster.

2) Why aren’t employers calling me?
This is another question that generates a long list of frustrating possibilities, none of which is fun or useful to contemplate.

Instead, ask yourself, How could I get in front of more decision makers who can hire me? Answering this “How” question will encourage you take positive action. For example, you could:

  • Write down the names of the 105 companies you most want to work for. (You do have a list of target employers, right?) Research them at Then, email the people in your network asking for an introduction. (This is made easier if you have a profile at
  • Call 5 of the most successful people you know and ask them, “How did you get your last 3 jobs?” This gives you a double benefit:
    • You will learn 15 ways to meet hiring managers and recruiters. That’s the obvious benefit.
    • Your calling for advice will flatter those people, making them more likely to remember and recommend you to potential employers. This is the not-so-obvious benefit.
  • Start a blog about your industry that gets you noticed by recruiters and hiring managers. This is not a quick fix, but it’s a great way to improve your visibility and employability for the long term. (You’ll find excellent articles on blogging for employment at
  • Finally, if employers aren’t calling in response to your emailed resume, it may be because they never got your resume. Spam filters are set on “Kill” these days, making email less reliable than ever. If there’s a job you really, really want, consider sending your resume by FedEx. Yes, it costs a few bucks. But a FedEx envelope, addressed by name to the hiring authority, has a 100% chance of being opened. That means your resume will get read. And that’s what you want, right? Besides, if you’re applying to a carefully targeted list of employers, you won’t be FedExing hundreds of resumes -- it will be more like 5 or 10. So this can be money well spent.

 Now go out and make your own luck!

Kevin Donlin is contributing co-author of “Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0.” Since 1996, he has provided job-search help to more than 20,000 people. For a free Guerrilla Job Search audio CD, visit

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