Road Blocks To Success

People often come into my office seeking job search advice stating that they’ve either been looking but no one’s calling them for interviews or they’ve went on interviews but still no job offers. At that point I give them my detective-like answer… if you’re not receiving any job offers it may have to do with your interview style and if you’re not even being asked in for interviews the blockage usually lies with your resume. A resumes purpose is to get you an interview and then the interview gets you the job. Sure networking can help you get an interview, but it’s unlikely that you know someone at every place you want to apply. Here are a few things to consider if you’re getting frustrated in the job search.

The Vault posted an article in August 2010 entitled 5 Reasons Your Job Search May Not Be Working. They suggested asking these questions:

“Are you positioning yourself appropriately?”

Have you taken the time to really assess your skills, interests and value? Make sure you have a targeted plan and you’re not just applying for any job that’s available. Just as we suggest you to network with friends, coworkers, and senior professionals know that they do the same and there are times when they seek each others’ professional opinions on numerous topics including recruiting efforts. If a certain job seeker becomes known as desperate then it’s less likely he/she will be hired, because employers want to hire the best person for the job not just the one willing to do anything to get the job. Not sure if you have a proper brand or career plan? Talk to a career counselor at your university and they can help you clarify some options and plans.

“Is your marketing complete?”

To go along with the first question, ensure that your online image and personal/professional brand is complete. If you blog or tweet make sure you’re keeping it active and appropriate to your brand. Establish a LinkedIn account and start connecting yourself to anyone and everyone you know. This helps you to see who your 2nd, 3rd, and higher degree connections are, and to whom you could potentially be introduced. What if your name is too common and when its Googled results show that are not actually you? Try creating your own page, like a free Google site. This can help showcase the real you and keep an updated public persona.

“Are you spending too much time on recruiters and job postings?”

Create a networking plan. Strategize who you would like to meet and start researching how you can either be introduced through your established personal network, or cold call the person and request a chance to meet for an informational interview. This gives you a chance to impress them with your professionalism, ask questions that can help you during the job search process, and don’t forget to bring along copies of your resume just in case they ask for a copy. They may want to see your resume to help you improve it or possibly pass it onto one of their contacts. Remember that the majority of job openings are filled through personal and professional networks and a lot of online job postings (especially on larger job boards like Monster and Career Builder) are out of date.

“Do you have 3-4 key message points?”

We usually call this a “30 second commercial” and it’s a way to introduce yourself to employers and networks. Now you don’t want to include all of your main points in the 30 second commercial, because the purpose of the commercial is to entice a conversation in which you can share other key messages. Develop these 3-4 key messages with a career counselor as you discuss your career plan and brand. Also remember that just as you have messages to deliver, the other person has a similar goal. Don’t forget to ask questions about the other person, show genuine interest and determine if there is a way to assist him/her with anything, like an introduction to someone in your network.

“Do you have a process to stay on track long-term?”

With the economy the way it is and the national unemployment rate at 9.8% in November 2010 the job search process takes longer than usual. We usually recommend people to allow for a 6 month job search process for any professional job. Now we remind people that it will take at least 6 months and most likely longer because of the economy. But, just because it’s harder doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Develop a career plan, a personal marketing strategy, and continue to network to keep yourself active and in positive spirits. No one wants to hire someone who appears to have a negative perspective on the job search, and only you have control over your own thoughts and actions. As they stated in the Vault article it’s a “marathon, not a sprint” and you need to plan for an endurance competition.

Karen is a Career Counselor and Internship Coordinator at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW). At IPFW she assists students in finding internships, coordinates and assists with campus-wide events, teaches a Career Planning course, and meets with students to assist them with all aspects of career development. Connect with Karen via LinkedIn or Twitter.

Related posts:

  1. Who is Invested in YOUR Success?
  2. Learning from Success and Failure
  3. Strategic Planning for Career Success: Assessment

One Response to “Road Blocks To Success”

  1. avatar Lew Sauder says:

    This is excellent advice Karen. You focus a lot of positioning and marketing, which is the right mind-set a job seeker needs. Today’s job seekers should focus on who is hiring and where the biggest trends are and try to match their education and any experience they have with what is needed in the market. There are some key sectors that continue to hire (IT, Consulting, Health care). If a candidate can position themselves correctly and target any of the hot areas, they will improve their chances.
    Lew Sauder, Author, Consulting 101: 101 Tips For Success in Consulting (

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