This is “Troubleshooting Your Search: Three Areas Your Job Search Can Break Down”, section 9.5 from the book Job Searching in Six Steps (v. 1.0).
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If you’ve made it this far, you have accomplished a lot toward your job search. You have a sense of what you want in your job targets, you are positioning yourself well with your marketing, you are arming yourself with research to make you a knowledgeable candidate, and you are putting yourself out there by networking and interviewing. You are doing a lot, but are you being effective? Troubleshooting is about looking at your search results to date and figuring out where your job search needs work and how to fix it.
At the networking and interviewing stage, you are getting market feedback. Even if you are getting no response from your networking inquiries, no response is still feedback (it’s negative feedback because what you are doing is not eliciting a response). There are many reasons behind the feedback you may be getting. You need to use the feedback you are getting (or lack of feedback) to troubleshoot your search. There are three stages of the hiring process where your job search can get stuck:
In the most general description of the hiring process, a candidate is identified, interviewed, and hired. A job search can break down at any one of these three stages. From the job seeker’s perspective, you must be identified as a candidate—that is, you must be invited to an interview. You must be interviewed and get called back for more interviews or for a hiring decision. You must be on the positive end of a hiring decision. So, the three categories of potential job search problems are (1) you are not getting enough interviews, (2) you are not moving forward in the interview process; or (3) you are not getting offers.
If you have been submitting résumés or asking people for exploratory interviews for more than thirty days, look back and see how many people have asked you to meet with them. You want to meet with several people per week (five to ten if you are working on your search full time or one to four if you are working on your search part time). Are you not getting invited to meetings or interviews?
If you have been getting meetings or interviews, congratulations! Clearly, your marketing is paying off. Now, your focus should be getting more meetings and interviews:
Look over your latest thirty days and note the types of meetings you’ve been getting and the steps that follow. Are you getting lots of first-round interviews, but are not getting asked to return for more interviews? Are you getting referrals from your introductory networking meetings to actual jobs or additional possible networking leads?
If you have been getting interviews and getting called back, then clearly you are doing something right because prospective employers are interested. But if there have already been several companies where you have been the bridesmaid but never the bride, then there could be a problem during the later stages of interviewing that is hindering your ability to close. Hiring is subjective, so if you lose one or two offers, that is to be expected and may be through no fault of your own. But three or more lost offers, especially if you went far along the process for all of them, could signal a problem.