By Rebecca Healy
Sending out lots of résumés with no responses? Or perhaps you're getting interviews, but not the job? While it may feel like you're doing everything in your power to land a new job, if you're having trouble closing the deal, it's time for another look. There are probably obvious reasons why you're not getting the job, and they need to be taken into consideration:
1. You don't have any connections. Connections are essential to getting a job, often allowing you to bypass writing a résumé, cover letter and the application process altogether. Connections make the entire job search easier. But if you're not getting a job, take a look at who knows you and what you do. You may not have any helpful connections to get you in the door because you don't network, or because you just haven't put yourself out there. Folks can't help you if they don't know what you need. If you don't use your connections, another candidate will be put at the front of the line – a candidate who used their connections.
To start building your connection network, start letting friends or family members know what type of job you want, and see if they know of anyone who may be able to help. If you don't feel your friend or family network is strong enough, start the networking process by going to an event or meetup in your desired industry. Chat up those around you, and make sure to grab business cards and follow up after. Invite your new contacts to coffee (on you), and start building those relationships. You've probably heard this advice before, but have you done it?
2. You're bad at selling yourself. Your cover letter and résumé are dry and terrible. You don't sound like yourself at all. Or maybe those documents are far too short or too long. Let's face it: You're floundering, and you're just plain bad at talking about yourself. But if you're bad at selling yourself, you'll never make it into the pile of "to interview" résumés.
Selling yourself isn't a bad thing; it mostly just takes preparation. First, keep a document of accomplishments. Then when you create your cover letter and résumé, highlight those results, rather than list what you did day to day in past positions. Stay confident in your tone, from paper to in person, and continue to describe the results you can bring to the position during your interview as well.
3. You're not conversational. If you make it to the interview, but don't get the job, consider your interview style. Beyond discussing why you're perfect for the job and highlighting your skills and results in past positions, you'll want to be conversational. Why? Employers want to like you. Likeable people are the best kinds of people to work with. So turn up the charm and enthusiasm. Show that not only are you fully competent, but you'll be interested in your job and get along with your manager and colleagues. Don't be overeager, but make sure to express your passion and commitment.
Part of being likable is listening attentively and responding appropriately. Ask questions, and be interested beyond what you've rehearsed in your interview prep. Remember, you are interviewing the employer as much as they are interviewing you. Relax, take a deep breath and just be your amazing, normal self.
When you're not getting the job, it's tough to stomach. But by taking a hard look at your job search process, you can ensure that you get further than ever before. By making changes in your network, your sales and your conversational skills, you'll get past the résumé stage, past the first and second interviews and into your very own corner office.
Rebecca Healy is the founder of Kontrary, a different take on money and happiness that helps you take control of your work and life. She lives in Washington, DC.
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