5 Ways to Control Your Job Search (and Accept What You Can't Control)
It’s exciting when you get the call from a potential employer about an interview for next Tuesday. You spend the weekend preparing for it, ensuring you have extra copies of your resume, going over key interview questions, and picking out the perfect professional attire.
Finally, Tuesday comes, and you head into the interviewer’s office, make eye contact, smile, and speak with confidence. You offer distinct examples of your expertise and how you are the solution to their problems.
Then, it’s over. You breathe a sigh of relief and walk away confident that you’ve made the best impression and you feel confident that you’ll get the job.
But then you receive the call -- they’ve gone with another candidate. You’re devastated. You start by thinking back, replaying every moment of the interview in your mind, and trying to discover what you did wrong. Did you over embellish an example? Were you too forthcoming with information? What could’ve gone wrong?
Would you be surprised if the problem was never really you? Actually, most of the time you’ll find employers don’t hire you not because you weren’t suited, but because there was someone who was better suited for the job.
Stings, doesn’t it? However, this is an example of an element of the job search that you cannot control. Instead of focusing on those factors outside your control, spend your time working on those elements you can control.
Here are 5 things within your control to improve on to ensure you’re well prepared for those future interviews.
#1 Refine your job-hunting efforts
You have to be prepared for all areas of the job search, which requires refining your efforts. Beyond checking job boards daily or looking at the classified ads in the paper, there are ways to make your job search more effective and efficient. Since 70% of recruiters use social media to determine an applicant’s candidacy, your online presence has to match your efforts.
What to do:
- Update your social profiles: Remove anything that is less than professional, and update your status regularly. Share content that matches the potential employer you’re trying to impress.
- Look at your network: Networking has become a key part of the job search now, it’s important to have a strong network of contacts in industries where you’d like to work.
- Improve your personal branding: Are you consistent across all your social platforms with branding that represents your professional offerings? Use keywords that attract the right employers and share relevant content that engages such employers.
Non-controlling element: Remember, you can’t control which companies are hiring or why there isn’t enough availability for the job you want. Employers hire for positions based on need and budget. If their budget can’t cover a specific job, they won’t hire for it. Instead, they’ll probably lump it into another employee’s job responsibilities. Don’t wait for a company to open a job position, keep searching other companies for a similar position.
#2 Search for employers that need your skills/talents
Companies can hire for any position they need, and they may not always hire for your specific skills. If that’s the case, why are you waiting around for them to hire you? It can be tiring, wading through hundreds of job postings only to be disappointed by the current offerings.
What to do:
- Try creating a list of employers you want to work for that need your skillset. Start with companies you’re familiar with and with places you’d like to work.
- Research target companies using online resources (LinkedIn) and learn about their immediate needs, problems, and where your skills can make a difference.
- Gather strong examples of your work and present yourself as the solution to their problems. Figure out what makes you unique and run with it. Don’t falter.
Non-controlling element: Not all jobs will be listed, and some companies only hire for a few major positions at a time. Sometimes, they don’t realize they need your expertise until you present it to them. Keep looking for companies within your industry/career, and reach out when you see an opportunity become available.
#3 Improve your performance and be prepared to sell yourself
The point of an interview is to sell yourself. You want to show ideal employers that you’re the solution to their problems, and that you have the knowledge and skills to make it happen. Before you go into your interview, you need to prepare yourself to make a good impression and to demonstrate your value.
What to do:
- Understand the company:
- Do you know the company? The industry?
- Can you name their culture, brand style, or latest news?
- Do you know their primary clients and what they offer?
All of this is key to selling yourself correctly by knowing the company to which you are applying.
- Tell a story: The best marketers use storytelling to sell a product to a potential prospect. Try to imagine yourself as a marketer, selling yourself to a potential employer. When you use storytelling in your interview examples, you have a better chance of holding the interviewer’s interest. And more than that, over 60% of people are likely to remember a story better, especially if it has a major emotional impact on them.
- Show don’t tell: Go beyond the normal phrases when giving examples of your background or talents. Instead of saying, “I’m a leader,” tell a story about a time you have lead a team to gain attention and show that you are a leader.
- Try something like, “Successfully led two cross-functional sales and marketing teams to gain an ROI of $25M in less than six months.” This sounds stronger, more interesting, and detailed.
Non-controlling element: It’s a hard truth, but it is impossible to control candidate competition. Sometimes another person will make a better impression than you, or someone else may just be a better fit. But often, you can improve your impact on the interviewer by being enthusiastic, animated, and using storytelling to gain an advantage.
#4 Make yourself visible online
While you want to improve upon your personal brand through your social media profiles, it’s also important to make sure you’re visible online. This doesn’t mean having a Facebook page where you consistently post about your personal life. Your online presence should be visible so that it attracts the eyes of recruiters or hiring managers from companies you’re eager to work for.
What to do:
- Stay active and engaged online: Say you’re looking for a job in Aerospace Engineering. You should be sharing content related to this job and industry.
- Track top companies in your target industry: Share content from their blogs or look at their social media profiles to find relevant information to like and share on your own page.
- Be active in online groups: Demonstrate your expertise by making relevant comments.
Non-controlling element: Because there is so much noise online, it’s not easy to stand out. And more to the point, no one is actively looking for you. You’ve got to stand out and gain the attention of recruiters by any means possible. Get their attention by tagging them in your social media posts.
#5 Don’t let rejection discourage you
Unfortunately, it’s easier to tell someone to not be discouraged than it is to feel it. Rejection hurts, and it’s especially true in the workforce. You need a job to make money to support yourself and perhaps a family. So, when you’re denied for a position, it can be the among worst feelings in the world.
But think of it like this: for every average job posting, there are 250 applicants. No joke. There are hundreds of people in need of work, and many will jump onto a single job posting with the hopes that they’ll be picked.
What you can do:
- Apply to as many jobs as are available requiring your skillset. Use your research about companies to identify areas where your skills can be applied, and look for jobs targeting those skills.
- Always keep applying and networking; even when you get an interview. It’s a never-ending journey, and it takes about six weeks of hard, dedicated work before you’re even offered a job. The goal is to continue moving forward even when you’ve been rejected.
Non-controlling element: Ultimately, the final decision rests with the employer. You can’t control their decision to go with another candidate instead of you. Often, it’s not you that failed to interest them. Sometimes, they just clicked with the other candidate. Or, the other candidate knew just a little bit more about a topic than you did. And most often, you’ll never be told why you weren’t chosen.
Finding and securing a job you want is tough, but it can be done. When you take control of the right elements in your job search, you’ll be in a much better position to land the job of your dreams.