EMPLOYMENT ADVICE COLUMN: Dear Joanna
Nothing is working with my job search. I’m not getting any interviews, my networking doesn’t lead to any jobs and needless to say, I’m stuck and feel like giving up. I’m doing everything in my powers to look for work including meeting the employment support staff, participating in the workshops and attending job fairs. What is wrong with me?
Signed: Stuck in the Search (SS)
One of the most painful experiences of being a job developer/job coach is working with a job seekers who is seriously engaged in his or her job search but for whom none of the available employment support services at the agency works. Consider reflecting on the excellent insights offered by blogger Louise Fletcher at Why Your Job Search Isn’t Working.
This column will present Fletcher’s advice on how most people “get the job search process all wrong” and make mistakes. You can explore her solutions on this site as well.
Mistake #1: Applying for jobs online. Some surveys show that up to 80% of vacant jobs are filled without ever being advertised. These jobs are filled by professional recruiters or through an employee/customer referral or from the company’s existing database of candidates or by an internal employee or even by a complete stranger whose resume simply arrived at the perfect time. While you are spending time looking for and applying to jobs on the internet, people are getting hired all around you in jobs that you can do. It would be a much more effective use of time to step away from the online job boards and do some research yourself on the types of companies who might hire someone with your skills.
Mistake #2: Setting Out Without a Map (Plan). For most people, the extent of their thinking about what to do next is “I need a job.” If ‘a job’ is your only defined goal, it’s really tough to conduct an effective search. Everything you do will be reactive rather than proactive. You won’t be able to develop a plan. You won’t know where to look for possible vacancies. And you won’t know how to write a resume that appeals to your target employers (how can you target something you haven’t even defined?).
Mistake #3: Writing a ‘cookie cutter’ resume . Is your resume truly compelling? Does it set you apart? Does it communicate exactly why an employer should interview you and nobody else? Has it been tailored to suit the types of positions you’re targeting? If you didn’t answer “yes” to this question, you honestly are not ready for a job search. After all, you wouldn’t go to a job interview without dressing up in your best clothes so why send out a resume that isn’t making you look your very best? A bad resume is possibly the most common job seeker mistake of them all. And if the recruiter doesn’t look at your resume and feel excited to meet you, why would he or she make the effort to call?
Mistake #4: Missing Out on LinkedIn. If you’re not on LinkedIn, not only are you not doing “everything possible,” you’re not even doing the bare minimum. LinkedIn is the #1 business-networking site in the world and it’s a primary source of candidates for recruiters. If you’re not there, they’ll find someone else. It happens all the time to people who create a powerful profile. And the benefits of LinkedIn go far beyond having your profile discovered by a recruiter. You can track down old colleagues and reconnect, giving you access to lots more potential job opportunities. You can join groups to meet people in your industry. You can make connections with industry thought leaders. You can research potential employers to prepare for interviews.
Mistake #5: Not Using (or under-using) Professional Recruiters. Some job seekers look upon professional recruiters negatively. Others don’t understand the important role they play. And some people feel that knowing one recruiter is enough. All of these beliefs are mistaken, and all cost people jobs. That’s because recruiters (also known as headhunters or recruiting agencies) have access to job opportunities that are not available anywhere else. They are hired by companies to fill positions that the company can’t fill any other way. Understanding how recruiters work will help you understand how to work with them to get what you need. Recruiters are hired and paid by the employer.
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Joanna Samuels, MEd, CMF, CTDS, RRP is a job developer, job coach, and facilitator at JVS Toronto. Her expertise is providing customized employment support services and skills training to unemployed and underemployed clients from diverse communities. She also helps employers with recruitment, selection, and diversity. Joanna is a certified Life Skills Coach, certified Personality Dimensions Facilitator, and part-time instructor at George Brown College.