Posted by Brian McCullough
Over the course of my career, I’ve heard the following a lot. Lately, we’ve been hearing it more than I’d like to say:
“I’ve sent my resume out over 300 times now. I haven’t gotten anything back. NOTHING. Not an email. Not a phone call. Not even an autoreply!”
These days, things are even worse. All the data suggests that each job opening is drawing more resumes than ever. That means each job seeker is facing more competition than we’ve seen, probably in decades.
Job Search Coming Up Empty Handed?
What do you do if you find yourself sending out resume after resume but are unable to get an interview or a response? Is there anything a job seeker can do if they feel like they’re just sending their resume out to the void with little hope much less hope of results?
If you find yourself in this very position, I have a couple of ideas after the jump.
- Pause and reassess. Most of the ideas on this list will include some variation on the notion that you should take a quick breath, take a step back, and look at your job search with a critical eye. Are there things you could be doing differently? Take it from the ground up. Follow everything you’ve been doing step by step. Is there any one area you’re making mistakes?
- Switch it up. Are you just taking a “shot-gun” shattershot approach? Are you just sending your resume out to every job opening you see? Whether you’re qualified or not? Whether you have much hope of catching their eye or not. Well, then, take a step back, consider what your job “sweet spot” is. What job or jobs are you most qualified for? Based on your experience and strengths, what jobs are you most likely to get? Try going with a targeted job search for a while … CONVERSELY, if you’ve ONLY been going after one narrow job, one narrow position… well, then, my suggestion is loosen things up a bit. Try going after a few jobs that are outside your wheelhouse. Swing at a few balls in the dirt. Try playing a few suited connectors. Pick your sports analogy. But the point is: try expanding your search and see what happens. Can’t hurt.
- Lower your standards. This is similar to the advice above, but from a slightly different perspective. Look, I know you’re a structural engineer. You went to school for how many years to become a structural engineer? You’ve spent how many years in a great firm? Well, congratulations. But no one is hiring right now because no one is building anything. And meanwhile, you have 3 kids and a mortgage. Look, it might be time to say, “I’ll take whatever I can get.” No, I’m not exactly saying go down to WalMart. I’m just saying, there are two ways you can ride out this hiring recession: doing nothing or doing whatever you can get. You can be making no money or you can be making some money. It doesn’t have to be forever. And it doesn’t have to be a complete departure. Maybe you can take a lesser job at an engineering firm. Heck, maybe you can be the assistant for some guy who’s doing the exact job you had 6 months ago. Whatever. I’m just saying. It might be time to swallow your pride and do what it takes to hunker down and survive.
- Go back to school. This is an old saw in the resume writer community. It’s the most popular advice a job search expert can give because it’s still slightly positive. Look, if you can afford it, going back to school is a great way to “wait things out.” Going back to school could take a couple of years so by the time you’re applying for a job again, people might be hiring again. AND… when you start applying again, you might have a new degree or skill set. You’ll be better qualified. You might be able to get hired at a whole new payscale!
- Examine your job search venues. Have you only been hitting up Monster? Check around… there are plenty of Niche Job Boards out there, probably two or three at least for your industry. You might uncover some jobs there that Monster doesn’t have. Try searching the local paper if you still have one. And try leaving the online/classifieds behind for a while. TRY NETWORKING.
- Examine your job search techniques. Try thinking outside of the box. Try applying to various positions in person. Try sending your resume over snail mail instead of postal mail. Shake your resume up a bit. See the next two items below:
- Examine your resume. Look for errors and such. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you had sent out your resume 100 times and only NOW did you find a basic spelling error near the top of the first page? Have someone look it over for you with fresh eyes.
- Refocus your resume. If you’ve been sending out the same resume 100s of times, maybe it’s time to throw out that draft and try a new one from scratch. Refocus some of your writing. Are there better ways you could organize your career history? Are the more effective and efficient ways you could sell yourself?
- Consider moving or switching careers. Self explanatory. It doesn’t have to be a permanent move… but sometime you have to try your hand in more fertile ground. A lot of careers are locally weak right now. If you have the desire and the ability to pick up stakes and try somewhere new, your career might very well be the best motivation to do so.
- Give up. For a while. Again, this might only be a temporary solution. But maybe there just isn’t anything out there right now. If you can afford to take a month off, then, like anything else in life, you can probably come back with a fresh head and some fresh perspective.