After looking for a job for well over a year, one of my readers wrote to tell us that he finally got a real live job offer. And he accepted it! He also wanted to share some of his hard-won job search tips to help other readers going through what he went through.
As a true testament to endurance (and willingness to stay creative and go with the flow), John had been interviewing for this particular job for about FOUR MONTHS! And he even had to do a stint as a consultant first before the owner of the company asked him to join the firm.
John has been a regular contributor to this blog’s comments. Now he would like to offer some hard-won advice to job seekers everywhere running their own job search obstacle courses. I gladly accepted (nothing like fresh, first-hand experience) and decided to add some of my own tips, too.
Here’s what we came up with. Hopefully this will help you not only survive what seems like a never-ending race, but stay in it long enough to emerge with a big job win!
- Don’t get down on yourself. You WILL get a job. It’s the uncertainty that can mess with your psyche. And being down on yourself comes across in interviews.
- Opportunities occur when you least expect them to. Be open. Look at jobs that might not even match your skill set exactly. (John only matched on 70% of the skills for this job.)
- Follow EVERY lead and talk to people. All kinds of people. You’d be surprised how many folks sincerely want to help. This is not the time to be shy.
- If you come up against an interviewer who does not have any interview skills, you might try what I did … initiate conversations as if the interviewer asked you a question. It is a bit unnerving when the interviewer talks less than Harpo Marx!
- At the end of the interview, ask about their process and time-frame and when you might be able to follow up. It’s not pushy — it’s professional.
- Always send a cover letter and resume. I (Ronnie Ann) actually once had a CEO of a firm personally reach out to reject me as a candidate. My skill set wasn’t even close, but I gave it a shot. He really liked my cover letter, but unfortunately cover letters can only do so much. Still I stayed in touch. 🙂
- If you’re still waiting, please know there are often unavoidable and unpredictable internal processes that have nothing to do with you. In John’s case, pressing issues arose at the firm that required immediate attention. Hiring him (as smart a decision as it eventually was) had to take a lower priority. This happens more often than you might think.
- Interviewing can go on for weeks and weeks. John was the top candidate half-way through the process, but still all the other candidates had to be fully interviewed to reinforce that he was the correct choice. (You would do the same for example if you bought a car. You may love one car, but you will check out other cars and dealerships. Same thing with a candidate.)
- A small thing like the current economic crisis can also be a huge factor in hiring and decision-making delays. As important as it is to hire new folks, keeping the business afloat takes top priority. And that even means you may have to postpone a hire you really want to do now. Don’t give up. Many times, the job gets resuscitated. So stay in touch … but not too often.
- Always send thank you notes and follow up with the person. You would be amazed how a note, email or phone call restarts the process. Be careful with phones calls though. Find out first how the person prefers you to follow up by asking politely. And of course — don’t overdo the follow up!
- Follow up with strength and confidence — yet tactfully too. That is what helped John get his job. He kept the lines of communication open, but with the attitude of “I understand your process and time frames and are mindful of them.”
You don’t want to follow-up so often
that you become a stalker!
- If people don’t get back to you, a lot of the time it has nothing to do with you as a candidate. Schedules change, issues arise, decision makers are out of the office, etc. It’s a waste of your energy to focus on what THEY aren’t doing. Focus on what YOU can do.
- Your situation creates a yo-yo of emotions. You are NOT alone in these feelings. Please know that. Do what you can to stay sane while waiting.
- Set daily goals for yourself, whether big or small. It does make you feel better about yourself. And also be gentle on yourself if you miss some. As Scarlett O’Hara so wisely tells us, tomorrow is another day.
- And most of all … never, ever ever say “Quit!”
P.S. – During your job search, you will meet true professionals who, even if they reject you, show respect. Learn from them. Stay in touch with those you connect with.
But also — and probably more importantly — learn from the unprofessional ones too, so that when roles are reversed and you’re the hiring manager, you will know how to act gracefully and professionally.
Well … that’s it. Hope our job search tips help with your own job search. Seriously, as hard as it might get along the way, stay creative. Believe in yourself. And keep trying. It’s worth the wait.
Best of luck!
~ John and Ronnie Ann
[Post updated in 2020]
More job search tips to help
About the author…
Ronnie Ann, founder of Work To the Wise and Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development, as well as her many adventures as a serial job seeker.