Our post last week addressed the job search “numbers game” and how it causes disappointment when we do not get a job. We concluded that rejection during the job search is almost inevitable. So, what should you ask yourself to move forward? Here are some ideas:
- How many positions have you applied to in the last 30 days?
- How many of those applications resulted in job interviews?
- In your most recent interview, was there anything you could have done better to prepare?
- How well did your qualifications match up with the job opportunity?
- Could you see yourself doing that job on a day-to-day basis?
- Did the interview raise any opportunities for you to improve?
- How have you overcome past rejection?
While some objections that prospective employers raise at interviews, such as lack of supervisory experience, or lack of a college degree, require long-term fixes, other objections can be overcome before your next interview. These are the issues to put on the “front burner” when you have to find a job right now.
How many positions have you applied for in the last 30 days?
Track the number of jobs you are applying for each day so you start seeing progress. If you are receiving unemployment benefits, participating in a publicly-funded employment program, job club, or a corporate outplacement program, you may be expected to report this number. If you are searching on your own, start tracking anyway, as if you had to report your numbers to a supervisor daily.
How many applications have resulted in interviews?
An important key performance indicator, or KPI, for your job search is the ratio of applications to interviews. While a low ratio such as one interview for every two or three applications submitted, probably indicates you are applying for the right jobs, and that your resume is working, a high ratio—say one interview per hundred resumes submitted–does not suggest any failure on your part. The ratio of applications to interviews could be 100 to 1 or more in job markets with lots of competition. But if your ratio is high, take a look at the additional indicators below to decide whether you can improve your results to get work faster.
How could you have been better prepared for your last interview?
Often, we realize that we could have been better prepared for our most recent interview. Perhaps the interviewer asked questions we were not ready to answer. Or, despite leaving early, we were late because we did not understand where, in a large office park or building, the interviewer’s office was located.
How well did your qualifications match the opportunity?
Presumably, someone at the employer or the recruiter’s office felt you were a match for the job when they invited you for an interview. But, as we discussed last week, that does not always mean you will move forward to the second interview. For example, there are many types of market research such as survey research and focus group research. The kind of market research discussed in the interview may differ from your specialty.
The job may also be at a different career level. For example, I have been called to interview for jobs where the “span of control” was 200 people but I have not supervised more than 2 people.
In other words, a mismatch between your credentials and experience and the employer’s needs may be evident from the interview conversation even though you initially matched on paper.
Could you see yourself doing this job?
It is important, in my view, to envision yourself doing the job based on the information you get from the interview. The job is probably not the right one for you when you cannot imagine yourself in the role. For example, a nursing professor pointed out to the New York Times some years ago that being a nurse is a highly technical job. It’s not good enough to be “kind hearted.” So the job would not be a good match for you if you cannot envision yourself doing technical medical work.
You are interviewing the employer as well as being interviewed. Also, you may be exploring the occupation or profession if you are changing careers. The match has to work both ways.
Did the interviewers raise opportunities for you to improve?
You may want to find out during the interview what, if any, skills or experience you are missing that might make you a stronger candidate for similar opportunities. Although you can’t get a college degree or add five years of experience by next week and come back, you may be able to take a quick online class. While short online courses won’t raise your expertise to the same level as a college degree, it will allow you to add keywords to your profile, and then perhaps be conversant enough so you demonstrate an aptitude for, and willingness to learn required skills.
How did you overcome previous job search rejection?
You may have experienced job search rejection in the past if this is not the first time you have looked for work. If you have not looked for work before, you may have been turned down by first-choice college or graduate schools.
What worked for you then? Did a former coworker or classmate refer you into a company, or even hire you? Did a recruiter find an opportunity for you? Perhaps you volunteered at an organization that hired you? In other words, if you are clicking and sending dozens or even hundreds of resumes daily, consider trying a different strategy.
Job search is like any other business challenge and opportunity you will face. Take feedback from the business environment—your KPIs and interview results—and adjust your plans accordingly.