How Can I Get Better Job Search Results?

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Kyle from Oregon State University asked:

“I have a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology and am seeing no results from my job search. I have been looking for almost 5 months now and have received two phone interviews after applying for dozens of jobs. I have had my resume looked over by several people who had no criticisms. My resume doesn’t help me much, I have no research/extracurricular activities, and none of my job experience is relevant to my degree/career. I have contacted multiple local companies about potential internships for experience and didn’t hear anything back. Can you shed some light on maybe my next move?”

Thanks for your question, Kyle.  I can appreciate the frustration you are feeling with your current job search efforts.  It sounds like you are anxious to get your foot in the door with an employer to get your career journey officially started.

Today’s job market is extremely competitive, even for entry-level opportunities.  In fact, statistics indicate that 250 resumes are received for every corporate job opening.  It is important to recognize the competitive nature of the job market.  Once you realize this, you can start putting together your plan to find the right opportunity for you.

To attain any goal, it takes a plan of attack along with lots of consistent effort to achieve the goal and realize the successful outcome for which you are looking.

How Many Jobs Do You Need?

You only need one job, right?  You don’t need two or ten or one hundred.  Just one job…that is all you need.  During your job search, you’ll experience emotional both ups and downs.  Learn to appreciate both and continue to stay focused on the goal of obtaining one job offer.  Fuel your search with consistent effort each day.  If you don’t give up on the goal, you’ll get there.

Treat Your Job Search Like a Job

One common mistake recent graduates make in their search relates to the amount of time and effort they invest into their job search efforts.  Most invest very little time into the search and assume that the successful outcome will come easily, even in spite of the competitive nature of the job market.  Here is statistic that might catch your attention:  1.9 million bachelors degrees are expected to be awarded during the 2016-2017 academic year.

These statistics aren’t meant to scare, rather to motivate you to fuel your search with a great deal of effort.  Treat the search like a full-time job.  Invest 40+ hours a week into your campaign to land the right job.  Most recent college graduates I meet with recognize that they haven’t been working as hard as they need to be to land the job if they are being completely honest with themselves.  I’ve found that many get better results in the search simply by investing more time.

Contact Your Career Center

Most colleges and universities offer services to recent graduates for at least a year after graduation at no cost.  Your career center could offer another review of your resume, train you with better interviewing skills, help you maximize the power of LinkedIn, connect you with employers who post jobs with their office, and connect you with alumni in your field.  Take advantage of this resource as you build and implement your job search plan.

Your Job Search is a Sales and Marketing Campaign

Think of your job search as your own personal sales and marketing campaign.  You are the product so you need to know all of the features, values, and benefits you can offer to a prospective employer.  Personally, I don’t like the term, job search, as it sounds like you are lifting up rocks to “find” something.  Mentally reposition the search while thinking of it as a campaign.  You are connecting with people, especially prospective employers and decision makers to highlight your value proposition (what you can do for them) detailing how you can solve their problems.  Also, you will sell to the buyer – in this case, the hiring manager.  This is the person who has the power to hire you.  Focus your efforts primarily on the hiring manager.

Network, Network, Network!

People hire people, not computers.  We need the help of others to succeed both on the job and in life.  Networking (engaging with people) is, was, and will always produce the best results.  Embrace saying hello to others, while reconnecting with people you already know.  One of the first things you should do is let all of your friends, family members, and connections know exactly what you are looking for and that you’d be grateful for any assistance that they can offer to you.  While many may not be able to help with a job lead, these individuals can offer tips, leads, introductions, referrals, and more that can be a stepping stone to landing the job.

Make sure to grow your circle of influence and network by attending community events.  Join professional associations in your field to connect with others in your field.  Utilize LinkedIn to grow your virtual network, find posted jobs, connect with recruiters, further your value proposition through skills endorsements and recommendations, and join industry related groups.

Volunteer to Gain Experience

Your question indicated that you have limited field experience.  One great way to acquire experience is to volunteer your time.  While the preferred way to gain experience is to be paid of course.  However, don’t underestimate the power of volunteering as a way to gain experience.  Additionally, get involved in your community with causes and organizations you believe in too.  These volunteer initiatives will help you to grow your network, build your reputation as a leader, gain experience, strengthen your resume, and much more.  Get out there!

Follow Up on Applications and Use Double-Hit Strategy

After applying online, most go into hope and pray mode as they hope and pray an employer calls them in for an interview.  Be proactive with employers by following up on all your applications.  If you are not being referred to an employer, the employer MUST receive, read, and value your application / resume before they will call you in for an interview.  If something fails along the way, then you won’t get the interview you desire.  Following up on your application can help you confirm that the company received your resume and find out any next steps or other valuable information.

Additionally, target market your value proposition to the hiring manager as well.  Research to determine who the decision maker is and craft a strong message to this individual highlighting how you can help them.  This is a great way to get your resume into the hands of the person who is making the hiring decision.  The first step is to apply through HR, then target the decision maker / hiring manager – the double-hit.  Utilizing this strategy allows you to be proactive, rather than passively waiting for a response.  It can make all the difference in the world to landing an interview.  Remember, you only need one job.

So, Kyle, don’t fret about the lack of results!  Develop your plan and work hard at it every day.  Make sure to include your network connections too.  These are people who will gladly help if they can.  Good luck!

Here’s to your success,

Bob Nealon

About the Author

Robert Nealon

For almost 10 years, Bob Nealon has been a South Florida-based career coach, focused on training and coaching college students and professional-level clients to achieve success in their employment search campaign and careers. He has trained over 5,000 clients with strategies on how to best compete in today’s ultra-competitive market to land the job and advance their career. Currently, he is a career coach at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management from Indiana University, a master’s degree in Sports Administration from Indiana State University and is a multi-credentialed career coach holding industry certifications as a Certified Professional Career Coach, Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Employment Interview Professional, Certified Empowerment and Motivational Coach, Global Career Development Facilitator, and Florida Certified Workforce Professional. He is an active member of Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches, Center for Credentialing and Education, Florida Association of Colleges and Employers, National Association of Colleges and Employers, and National Career Development Association. Connect with Bob via LinkedIn and Twitter.

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