Dear Matt: I've been looking for stable work since the end of February when I was laid off out of nowhere. I've been sending out 35-50 résumés a week. In the beginning I had five interviews, but since then it has gotten very quiet. Also, I will be attending a LinkedIn event this week and another job fair. Can these strategies help?
Matt says: My first thought is, are you targeting the right jobs? I find it hard to believe there are 35-50 jobs per week -- meaning up to 200 jobs per month -- for which you are a highly qualified candidate and/or the right match. That's why I think you need to refocus your job search and your approach.
Catherine Byers Breet, a Twin Cities-based career coach (arbez.com) and job search guru, agrees. "Take your online application activity and change that into networking activity," she said. "Instead of sending out so many résumés, talk to 30-50 real people per week. Do that, and you'll get hired in a matter of weeks versus months."
Byers Breet tells the story of a client who had been looking for work for three months --aggressively applying online, like you. Not one interview. The problem? She posted a chronological résumé focusing on her work history instead of a targeted résumé directed to the needs of each specific company. The résumé she posted showed her as a business owner for eight years and 15 years as a nurse manager. Her chronological résumé didn't have the information each specific job wanted and the applicant tracking system recognized that, eliminating her from consideration before it even got to an actual person. So she stopped job hunting for a week, got very clear on what her target market was asking for, rewrote her résumé with all her chief qualifications at the top, and her chronological background at the bottom, then hit the streets -- literally, talking to whoever she could. Six weeks later, she had two job offers -- at $20K more than she had been expecting to get.
"You need to really focus on your target job and target market," said Byers Breet. "Build your résumé for where you want to go, not where you have been."
As for LinkedIn and the job fair, both are great opportunities to network -- if done correctly. "LinkedIn is an important part of any job seeker's toolkit, but you have got to get out and shake hands with real people in your target market," said Byers Breet. "Networking groups, associations, chamber events, job fairs, armed with a concise and engaging 30-second pitch, is what will get you in front of the right people and noticed."