08 February 2016
While today’s economy continues to improve, there are still job seekers in the market that are finding it a challenge to land a job. Scouring job boards, crafting cover letters and resumes, and perfecting interviewing tactics can seem pointless if you haven’t found success after many months, but there are many ways job seekers can use these rejections as a learning experience. To ensure you’re putting your best foot forward, ask yourself the following questions: What am I looking for in my next employer? Answering this question honestly will help you narrow in on the most important criteria that your next employer should offer. Not only can this help with the types of companies you apply to, but it can also affect the types of questions you ask during your interviews. Depending on what your needs may be at the time, figuring out exactly what you want in your next employer can help you to target jobs and/or companies more strategically. Are my cover letters and resume up to par? Whether you are applying for an entry-level job, or a managerial-level role, hiring managers typically rely on your cover letter and resume to determine if you should be invited in for an interview. Therefore, if you’ve applied to a variety of roles using the same cover letter and resume without much luck, it might be time to tailor your cover letter and resume to each job and/or company you’re interested in. A few additional things you can do on your own to ensure your cover letter and resume are well received include proofreading for any typos, keeping them to appropriate lengths, and using relevant keywords effectively. In other words, highlight the skills and accomplishments on your resume that are most in line with what the job entails. Am I using my network…at all? One area many job seekers tend to overlook throughout the job search process is their own network. Connecting with current employees at a company you’re interested in, your alumni network, or former colleagues, are just a few ways you can leverage your network to advance your job search. For example, if a hiring manager at a company you’re interested in graduated from your alma mater, this can be a good platform to potentially get your feet in the door. As a job seeker, one thing to keep in mind is that not all open positions are posted on job boards. In fact, an increasing number of employers are relying more on referrals from current employees to fill their open positions. Therefore, take more time in your day to figure out ways to better utilize your network. Am I answering interview questions creatively? Interviewing for a new job can be discouraging if you routinely practice responses to interview questions, yet are still unsuccessful in landing the opportunity you want. While it is a good idea to prepare responses to common interview questions, if they seem too ‘scripted’ it could be hurting your chances more than helping. For example, cliché responses like “My biggest weakness is that I work too hard,” or working around questions without giving clear responses, may raise red flags to prospective employers. Keep in mind, personality fit and soft skills are important factors hiring managers consider when choosing the best candidate for a position. The better you can provide unique and honest answers to both common and uncommon interview questions, the better your odds are of standing out. How am I being perceived by employers? Job seekers should be aware of their emotional state throughout the interview process, particularly how they come across to prospective employers. For instance, while some job seekers who haven’t had much success may come off as less confident or less enthused, other job seekers may come off as over eager or overly confident if they think they are the best fit for the position. If you fall into either of these categories, make an effort to show your genuine interest in the role and organization, and be sure to give concrete examples of how you can add value to the team. Furthermore, be cognizant of your body language throughout your interviews as slouching, lack of eye contact, or fidgeting are a few non-verbal cues that can hurt your chances of being hired.