I am frustrated with my job search. Can you provide insight or new ideas to consider?

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frustrated-businessmanRalph from Wright State University asked:

I am growing extremely frustrated with my job search.  I recently completed my MBA and I haven’t found a job. I continue to search high and low for employment opportunities but I haven’t had any success. I also have an MPA degree and a BS in Family Resource Management with a minor in Economics.  My goal was to obtain my MBA and transition into the private sector since I do not have a lot of experience. 

I decided to apply for jobs that were entry level positions just to get my foot in the door, but I think I am being viewed as overqualified.  I apply for positions that are commensurate to my experience and education as well.  I thought since I was going for entry level positions I would at least get interviews.  This job market really have me questioning why I even attended college since I am not reaping the benefits and have a pile of student loans to repay.

I am considering eliminating some of my education from my resume depending on the job and including some only when it is necessary or relevant to the job.  I think this may be unethical, but I am not sure.  

The reality is this: I have mouths to feed and bills to pay.  I have to work and working part-time without any benefits or unsatisfactory pay is not cutting it.  I have even applied/registered at temporary agencies to enhance my job search. Can you provide me with some feedback or your thoughts?

Hi Ralph –

I can sense your frustration and will do my best to offer you some advice:

You must give employers a compelling reason to consider you

The fact that you need a job is not – in and of itself – a compelling reason for an employer to hire you.  As a candidate you must possess a set of qualifications (education, experience, skills and qualities) that match those the employer is seeking in candidates.  Further, you have to communicate your qualifications clearly and effectively to potential employers.  Looking for a job is like being a sales representative, and the product you are selling is you.  When you are in sales, you know that potential customers will not buy your products just because you are selling them.  You know you have to demonstrate that the products you offer meet a need the prospective customer has   When you have established the fact that what you offer might meet their needs, prospective customers have a compelling reason to listen to what you have to say.  A job search is no different.

You do not have to list all of your education on your resume

Your resume is a marketing document.  As such, it should include and highlight the elements of your qualifications that are relevant to the opportunities you are seeking.  So, if the fact that you have an MPA is not relevant to your search, don’t list it!  Rename your education section RELEVANT EDUCATION and list only your relevant degrees.  The same goes for other information on your resume.  You not have to give “equal time” to all aspects of your experience.  It is perfectly okay to emphasize some experience and de-emphasize other experience.  Applications for Employment are comprehensive informational documents, resumes are targeted marketing documents.  Be sure you are treating your resume like a resume (a marketing document) and not an application for employment.

You have to be ready to answer the difficult questions authentically

You know those questions you hope they won’t ask?  They WILL ask them – at least some of them – so you must be prepared to answer them.  You have to make you make sense to them.  A potential employer is going to look at your qualifications and ask questions like:

Why did you get an MPA?  Do you want to work in accounting? 

Why did you choose to pursue an MBA after getting your MPA?

What types of positions interest you most and why?

Why are you a good fit for this position?

Why are you interested in this position?

Why do you want to work in this industry?

Why do you want to work for this company?

How do your qualifications match up well with our needs?

You need to focus on high payoff activities in your job search

If scanning the online job boards and applying for everything you can find is your primary job search strategy, you are not focusing on high pay-off activities in your job search.  I suggest you follow the 80/20 rule when it comes to your job search:

Invest no more than 20% of your time in the reactive part of your job search (checking the online ads and responding to what you see).

Invest the 80% of your time in the proactive part of your job search (building and nurturing your network of contacts, researching the industries you want to enter, getting to know and getting known by people who can help you find a job).

You should set weekly job search goals that are challenging but attainable

Looking for a job when you really need a job is no fun.  I know from personal experience.  I have been in a situation similar to yours twice in my life.

The best way to manage the process is one day and one week at a time.  At the start of each week, set some goals that are challenging enough to keep you focused but attainable so that at the end of the week you can celebrate your success (or hold yourself accountable for not meeting your objectives for the week).  Each week, assess how you did versus your stated goals for the week and set your goals for the next week.

If you treat your job search like a full-time job – that is, invest at least 40 hours per week (when you are not employed) – you have to hold yourself accountable for how you are using your weekly 40!

Ask yourself, “Am I investing a full 40 hours per week in my job search and what am I doing with that time?”  If you don’t like the answer to that question, you have to change course.

Ralph, you have a lot of very big questions that are hard to address thoroughly in a forum like this.  I hope that my responses have been helpful.

Keep plugging away.  Search hard and search smart, and you should experience more success.

Good Luck!


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2 responses to “I am frustrated with my job search. Can you provide insight or new ideas to consider?”

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