At a recent career workshop, one attendee asked if her poor job search results to date were a reflection of the market or her own skills and qualifications. It’s a valid question because this is a particularly tough market. You don’t want to beat yourself up unnecessarily. Perhaps, you are doing everything right and it’s just bad luck from the market. However, as a career coach and former recruiter who has coached, recruited and/or managed thousands of careers, I see more of the opposite behavior: jobseekers who prematurely blame the market when their own job search efforts are shallow or subpar.
How much time are you spending on your search? How many resumes have you sent out? How many networking meetings have you lined up? I see many jobseekers exasperated because their first 5-10 attempts haven’t worked out. Even in a good market, you have to expect to speak to 50-60 people in your target sector over the course of your search.
Are you spending time on activities that bring you results? Many jobseekers rely on responding to ads and contacting recruiters, even as they hear that most jobs are accessible by networking and talking directly to companies. Be honest about how productive your job search activities are. By all means, try many different routes including ads and recruiters, but if those haven’t been working for you, be willing to change and do something else.
Are you talking to the right people? Attending a cocktail party and telling everyone who will listen that you need a job doesn’t count as networking. Networking in general is about building relationships for the long-term. Networking in the job search context is about identifying and nurturing relationships with people who can hire you or refer you. These need to be people one, two or three levels above you.
We have all heard the line “It’s not personal, it’s business.” In the case of your job search, it’s both. Yes, keep your business hat on because you need to be professional and analytical and focused on your target companies’ business concerns. But your job search is also very personal. Your ability to find the best job for you impacts your emotional health, financial wellbeing, day-to-day living and future prospects. Is it the market or is it you? It’s your search, your career, and your willingness and ability to be better than the jobseekers out there regardless of the market. It’s all you.
Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart (www.sixfigurestart.com).