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Learn from Job Search Failures

Well, I have been hunting high and low now for eight weeks now and I have still not yet found a job. I have had some interviews and some leads but nothing has turned out. Either I was “miles” away from the salary expectations, I was too senior for the position, or I did not get the job. I am wondering if I should pay a headhunter to help me get a job I did meet with a staffing company 5 weeks ago but have not heard anything since. I am losing hope, any advice or thoughts?

– Steve, IT Professional, BC

I can hear your urgency and frustration from putting in effort job hunting and not getting the kind of results desired. It seems like while you have had some employers job leads, you have not found a job that was a good fit. I can hear that you are now beginning to lose hope and wondering if there is anything you can do to improve your chances of finding the right jobSometimes, finding the right job and the right fit can be difficult.

I wonder if it might be beneficial for you to analyze the job search process for areas where you can improve? That is, when you reflect on your job search so far, what step in the job search process represents the greatest opportunity for improvement if any? I have outlined some common steps the job search process for your consideration.

Poor Resume. A bad resume is a show stopper since this is the first step in the process. How can you tell if your resume is the culprit? Well if you are applying for a lot of jobs that you are qualified for but not getting interviews, it might be a sign that your resume needs a second look.

Shaky Job Interview Skills. Perhaps you are getting called for interviews but not getting further in the process. How can you tell if the problem is your interview skills? Well, a good way is to ask for feedback from the interviewer after the interview or selection process. Ask the interviewer to give you some feedback on your interview skills, strengths, weaknesses and so on. I know it can be intimidating to ask for critical feedback and while you may not always get it, don’t pass up this great opportunity to get some valuable coaching. It also shows the employer your receptivity for feedback and commitment to continuous improvement.

Another good question to ask here is how to do you feel in the interview? That is do you feel confident in an interview? After the interview do you feel as thought it went really well? If you feel really nervous and lack confidence then it is important that you address it. However, if you feel confident in interviews and think you interview well but never get an offer then it might suggest a lack of awareness. It is not uncommon for people to over estimate their own ability when it comes to job interviewing. Could this be the case with you? If this could be the culprit, then it is important that you seek some training or help to improve your interviewing skills.

Not a Good Person/Job FitSometimes you fail to get the job offer simply because it is not a good fit with your skill set. Are you under qualified for the jobs you are applying for? If many employers tell you that you lack some required experience, skill, education and so on then it may be an indication of a poor fit. Perhaps, you are being told that you are over qualified. Are your salary expectations way above the employer’s offer? If you answered yes to any of these questions, the problem may be that you are applying for the wrong jobs.

So it may be worthwhile for you to consider the points above to determine potential problem areas. While there is always room for improvement to your resume and job interview skills, based on your situation, it looks like you may be applying to the wrong jobs. By this I mean if you are repeatedly finding yourself having salary expectations greater than what’s offered, and employers repeatedly indicate that you are over qualified, then you may need to reconsider the kind of jobs you are targeting. Unless you are making a career transition and applying for entry level jobs to break into a new career, it may be worthwhile for you to reconsider the jobs you are targeting.

As for your last question about seeking the help of a recruiter or staffing professional. I think this could really expand your options. Reputable staffing companies have vast networks of strong relationships with high profile employers. By seeking the services of a good recruiter you will tap into the hidden job market and take advantage of this network. However, in Canada (and in many countries ) you as the job seeker should not have to pay for the service. Standard practice is for the staffing company to charge the employer to find candidates. In Canada, there is specific legislation (in BC, Employment Standards Act Part 2, Section 10) that prevents employers to charge for employment. Most countries have similar legislation since it is in the public interest to have laws that support individuals to seek employment. If this were not the case, then it would be possible for an employer and agents to charge a fee to hire applicants only to fire them shortly after taking the payment.

Since it has been 5 weeks and you have not heard from your recruiter, it is unlikely they will find a placement for you. Typically, if you have heard back from a recruiter in the first 3 weeks your chances for an immediate placement decrease significantly. I would suggest that it would be wise to shop around for another recruiter and look for a mutual connection. Regardless of what you do, if a recruitment agency charges you the job seeker for search services then you should really think twice. While not common, this kind of practice still happens with unscrupulous companies. I can imagine it is easy to get discouraged but try to keep your spirits up. Be prepared that good staffing companies turn away way more candidates than they agree to represent. But stay hopeful and be prepared when your opportunity comes.

Best luck with your job search.

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