As a career coach, I get asked a lot of questions about the job search – a LOT! I woke up thinking about them and thought I would share those most frequently asked.
Q: I’ve always gotten every job I’ve applied for. That doesn’t happen anymore. Why?
A: The market and technology have changed. First, thanks to automated application systems, there are more people competing with you for those jobs. It’s no longer just a local market. Second, companies have gotten very impersonal in their searching methods; seeking out key words and qualifications. While they may end up with a great candidate, this process systemically eliminates other great candidates.
Q: I’ve applied for hundreds of jobs online, but rarely hear anything back.
A: Ah! This is my pet peeve. Thanks again to the Automated Tracking Systems (ATS), machines are now scanning resumes in search of key words. Do they appear? In what order do they appear? How recently do they appear? You can never know exactly how a company has set up their ATS, so it’s difficult to beat the system. Your chances of getting selected are slim. The highest number of successful applicants I’ve ever found is 25%. So, your chance of ‘getting through’ are extremely low. There are hundreds of suggestions on how to beat the system out there, but I don’t see the numbers changing much.
Q: So, if my chances are so low with an ATS, how do I get noticed?
A: As much as people don’t want to hear this, the answer is Networking. The good news though, is that this doesn’t mean going out to events with hundreds of people and trying to get noticed. You can network one on one with people you already know. Reach out. Let people know you’re looking.
Q: How do I increase my chances?
A: The one thing I recommend that surprises people, and actually makes them uncomfortable, is to narrow your search. Do your research and identify the top 10-20 companies that offer jobs in your field, meet your values and personality, and provide the requirements you seek. Not only will you land a job sooner, but you’ll waste less time going after jobs that don’t meet your criteria. Why apply to jobs that pay too little, or don’t have the work/life balance you seek? Taking the time to land at the RIGHT company, will help ensure you are happy with your work.
Q: Will a company withdraw an offer if I counter?
A: No. I always encourage my clients to negotiate and I’ve never seen a company withdraw an offer, especially when it’s done professionally. Counter multiple times, or with unreasonable demands, and yes, they may walk, but not the first time.
I hope these will help you in your search. Be confident, do your research, and go out there and land that next great job!
Do I, or do I not, pay someone to write my resume for me? This is a question many professionals that I have encountered ask. My short answer is no, do not hire someone to write your resume for you. Hire someone to help you craft a resume that tells your story in YOUR voice. My approach when working with clients is to have them tell their stories first. We then take those stories and craft strong, action-oriented bullets on the resume. The result? A resume that sounds like you, in your voice, telling your stories.
I’ll share a story from my own history. About 10 years ago, I paid what I feel is an exorbitant fee, $900, to have someone write my resume. After just one meeting and completing an extensive information sheet, well sheets, I received a resume that looked AMAZING! Yes, amazing. The problem was, I didn’t recognize the person in the resume. It didn’t look, feel or sound like me. The person in this resume was an executive seeking an executive position. Neither of these applied to me. At the time, I was a leadership development educator seeking program manager roles; a far cry from the Chief Learning Officer that jumped off the page of this resume.
This story has become an underlying purpose for my work. When you are in job search mode, YOU are the product and salesperson. It’s true. And, like any salesperson, you have to believe the story you tell. The best way to have a story you can believe in and tell, is to tell it in your own words. Only then does your authentic self come through. Try and be someone else, and you’ll ultimately fail in your pursuit of the right job. Either the employer will sense a mismatch between you and your story, or you will end up being hired into the wrong company that doesn’t share the same values as you.
So, ok, I understand. Not everyone enjoys writing, and fewer enjoy ‘bragging’ on themselves. That’s where I come in. My approach is to help you tell your stories, then work WITH you to craft resume bullets that you can relate to; that represent the YOU who is applying for that job. Let them see YOU. If you resonate with them, they will hire you and you’ll be happy. Try and be someone you’re not, and you may still get hired, but will you be happy? I believe in helping my clients land jobs that share their values; that provide the work environment where they will thrive.
So, let me ask you. If you were in front of the one person in the world who you’d like to impress, would you leave telling YOUR story to someone else? I think not. Still not convinced? Ok, spend the big bucks and let someone else write your resume. But when that resume doesn’t get the results you’re seeking, call me. I’ll help you tell YOUR story in YOUR words. The authentic you that will spend 40+ hours a week working with these people will thank me….and you!
Throughout my years coaching individuals through the job search process, I’ve observed that even more frightening than the interview, is negotiating the offer. People, especially women (a shocking 68%), simply don’t try to negotiate, accepting the first offer made to them. Failing to negotiate has a long-term impact on your income. If you settle for a lesser amount upon hiring, all salary increases are based on that smaller amount. Additionally, when you change jobs, the previous job’s salary will be less, possibly leading to a lower offer. I believe negotiation is the most crucial step in the job search process.
Most people avoid negotiating because it’s just too scary. The most common fear is that the company will rescind the offer because you countered. Let me put that fear to rest. No company will withdraw an offer because you countered. Now, if you keep going back and forth and changing your ask, that’s a different story. But one counter offer is not only acceptable, but in many cases, expected. So, here is how to prepare yourself to assess, and if necessary, counter the offer you receive.
I recently sat down with Martin Wolk for an article that appeared in the Seattle Times. As I’ve spoken with people since, three things keep bubbling up as to how one can accelerate their job search. I thought I would share them now.
Andrea's passion is to see you achieve your professional dreams. Whether you are a corporate leader seeking leadership development for your employees or an individual seeking guidance in building your career or preparing for retirement, she will coach you to success.