A job search is hard for most people. There is no denying that. For every job opening, there are often many candidates pursuing it.
There is a tendency to settle for any job that will take you. No matter how successful one’s career has been, this process can be humbling.
I’ve been there, too. I’ve come in second during selection processes. I’ve been told I’m overqualified. I’ve been disenchanted with the thrill of the hunt for the next step in my career.
The irony is this process of finding a job requires continual optimism. A good attitude is necessary, as hard as that can be sometimes.
I thought I’d share some experiences (from real candidates, colleagues, and friends) to remind you that you are not alone.
Equally important, I’m adding my reactions or thoughts associated with each situation. These are reflections on staying on track and positive in response to tough moments in the job search.
Staying Positive in Discouraging Situations
The following are examples of 4 different experiences that job seekers regularly encounter with my thoughts on how to stay positive even when things don’t go as well as you hope.
Situation 1: The Job Vaporized
I had a candidate get through all the hurdles. He even got a verbal offer with a promise of a written offer the following week. A few days later, the company decided not to fill the position. He was devastated as this was a perfect job for him. Plus, he felt like he was starting over from scratch in his job search.
My thoughts for him:
First of all, he lost the opportunity because the company waffled on this. One can question why it happened.
I know one thing for sure — the candidate’s qualifications had nothing to do with the decision.
It is important for this candidate to also realize that he is NOT “starting over from scratch.” So much groundwork has been laid by this job seeker: he has practiced interviewing in real-world situations; perfected his resume; and has networked heavily which will bring more leads his way.
Momentum was not brought to a standstill during this process (never stop your search while interviewing — you never know what might happen).
Situation 2: I Came in Second
A candidate made it to the final round of interviews. Very often, there is more than one under consideration in the final stages of a selection process. The candidate was told they were the runner up — “unfortunately we can’t hire both of you.”
My thoughts for her:
Coming in second sucks. No doubt about it. It is hard to be that close and to miss landing the job by perhaps one qualification or one small thing you said or did not say. Or simply, the other candidate connected better with the decision-maker. Maybe they share the same hobby.
Perhaps you made an error during the interview—it happens. Here’s why it’s important to ask for feedback after a job rejection.
There are small things that make a difference when choosing between two great candidates. You must remind yourself that even coming in second is good. It means you are qualified for the job and many others just like it. It means you ARE a great candidate and will make the leap to the top soon.
If you really liked the people and the organization, consider sending a thank you note after receiving the rejection — The Thank You That Can Turn Rejection into Opportunity. If the person doesn’t work out, or if another opportunity opens soon, you could be hired.
Situation 3: I’m Not Getting Any Interviews
A candidate has sent his resumes to many companies and has not heard back on any of them. He is convinced he will never get an interview.
My thoughts for him:
If you’ve had a job(s) in the past, you are qualified for a job in your future. At moments like this, re-evaluate your process. There could be several things wrong.
- Is your resume written well? If you are unsure, seek a professional for advice or at least a mentor you respect.
- Are you applying for the right jobs? Are you applying to just anything that remotely looks interesting or you’re close to qualified? The job you eventually get will be one that you are close to 100% qualified to do. That is how you beat out the competition. You have to find the perfect jobs.
- Are the jobs well defined? Sometimes, you think you are qualified for a job, and it turns out the “real qualifications” are not presented. You may not get the call because there is a mismatch in your qualification and you’re not even aware of it.This is not your fault. There is nothing you can do about this unless you have an insider at the company who can give you some clarity.
- Are you networking enough? There is a huge difference between applying on line to a job versus getting network help.Consider this: Human Resources gets overwhelmed with resumes for almost every job. If someone at their company walks into their office with a resume in hand and says, “I know this person well and she is perfect for that job,” what do you think happens next?By the way, if you get a connection to help you out BEFORE you submit, they may get an employee referral bonus check — a little more motivation to help you out. Learn How to Make Employee Referral Programs Work for You for details.
- Are you overqualified? This is similar to the “right jobs” question. However, in this case, it might appear like you are overqualified when maybe you are not. For example, you may have managed people doing the role you are applying for, but now you want to go back to being a sole-contributor (and get out of management). Without an advocate (see bullet above on networking), it is hard to get this message conveyed.
Also, read Improve Your Ranking in LinkedIn Searches in 10 Steps and The 25 Best Keywords for You in Your Job Search to make yourself easily found by employers searching through LinkedIn for qualified candidates.
Situation 4: There Are No Jobs Out There For Me
A candidate has been in the search for “long time” and is convinced there simply are no jobs meeting her requirements so she should give up.
My thoughts for her:
Jobs pop up every week, every day. The real questions to consider are:
- Are you looking in the right places?
- What separates you from the jobs that are out there — do you have to take one training class or get certified in one skill to be perfect for some of those jobs?
- Are you going to the same source every day/week to find the jobs?
- Are you networking with others who are searching so that you can ask how they conduct their search? This network can also share with you jobs they’ve discovered that are not posted or opportunities with employers who might create a role for you.
In summary, are you being aggressive about finding the jobs? As they say, finding a job can be a full-time job.
The Bottom Line
The common thread between these situations is that all are real tough blows to the psyche and the efforts in a job search. All of them can derail your productivity and lead to a negative path. As hard as it is, you have to consider that all these situations can be looked at as opportunities. It starts with you.
Your attitude towards the process will dictate your success more than you might realize. Stay focused, stay productive, and most of all, stay positive.
More About Job Search Success:
- The Thank You That Can Turn Rejection into Opportunity
- How to Make Employee Referral Programs Work for You
- Improve Your Ranking in LinkedIn Searches in 10 Steps
- The 25 Best Keywords for You in Your Job Search
About the author…
Job-Hunt’s Working with Recruiters Expert Jeff Lipschultz is a 20+ year veteran in management, hiring, and recruiting of all types of business and technical professionals. He has worked in industries ranging from telecom to transportation to dotcom. Jeff is a founding partner of A-List Solutions, a Dallas-based recruiting and employment consulting company. Learn more about him through his company site alistsolutions.com. Follow Jeff on LinkedIn and on Twitter (@JLipschultz).
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