Job Search Reality Check - 5 Tips for Success


Searching for employment - be it the dream job or the next step on the corporate ladder - can be exhausting.  There are many other choice words I could use to describe this laborious process such as demeaning, grueling, time-consuming, frustrating, and in my history, each job search is its own monster.  As a career coach, I seek to assist those during this difficult process, either as a resource or just an ear to vent to.  What I have realized from my own personal experience and that of others, is that a job search doesn't truly become successful until a ‘reality check’ ensues.  For those new to the job search arena, or the seasoned vets, it may be time for a reality check, to ensure each individual has a realistic approach to their career goals. Here are five tips for a successful job search.

Time is not your friend

Truth be told, the average job seekers looks for 6 months before finding a new position.  Most companies take between 2-4 months to post, recruit, interview and hire for any open position.  A realistic timetable should be between 3-6 months before a job seeker receives an offer of employment.  Secondly, most applications take at least an hour to complete, between full time employment, evening or full time graduate schooling, families, and extracurricular activities, there is far too little time available for the job search.

Endless applications

The current rule of thumb is 25:1, that meaning, for every 25 applications completed, one interview will be arranged.  Completing applications, as mentioned above, is a lengthy process, but should be driven by strategy.  A focused strategy will also succeed much quicker than a scattered focus.  Compile a list of desired companies, roles and job attributes, review the list and see how the positions, companies and attributes match up together.  If there is a company that offers your desired position with ideal attributes, make that your top priority.  Strategies can be devised by your own method, following the ‘2-hour job search' for example, or by utilizing assistance from the Graduate Business Career Services office.  Be aware, most applications will not be viewed.  Most applicants will not be notified when an application is reviewed or rejected.  Lastly, it may take weeks or months before a possible rejection or acceptance for an interview is sent.

 Job Search is just that, a job

Analysis, data collection, follow up, and research, time management, proof reading, and cross-examinations.  These sound like the descriptions of a court proceeding, but are all skills that should be utilized during a job search.  The most important being time management.  With busy schedules and competing priorities, reserving a few hours every day or chucks of time several days a week is the only way to achieve success.  To create your own job search schedule designate days of the week or hours during the day to complete applications, company research or update your LinkedIn profile.  Even a half hour during a lunch break is better than no time at all.

Easier to find a job if you have one

Employers want to see that you are working, continuous employment signifies an employable person.  For most, continuous employment isn’t always an option with the recession felt by all of us.  Gaps in employment can easily be filled with school, volunteerism, or professional development through memberships like Toastmasters, local chambers, or non-professional projects.  In short, keep your job while searching; it is more appealing to employers.  For those looking to transfer into a different role, be able to explain and provide examples for transferable skills. If you are unemployed or underemployed, find a way to stay engaged in the market; volunteering, mentoring, or completing courses are all great ways to keep your skills and “hire-ability “ in top notch condition.

 80/20 rule is not just for sales

The long promoted Pareto's principle for monetary distribution around the globe of 80% of wealth will come from 20% of the population directly relates to the work of a job searcher.  Less than 20% of all available positions are posted anywhere to the visible eye.  That means over 80% of jobs are filled before most online job boards even see them.  Most companies and their employees are asked for referrals for upcoming openings, or filled internally before a position is advertised.  Enlisting your network is key in today’s job market. Networking is the dirty word of job searching, for most it means to exploit our relationships to achieve personal gain.  That perspective must first change with the job seeker before any success can be gained.  Networking should encourage others to build relationships to garner support with ideas, advice and referrals.  These referrals should also provide guidance but also lead to an individual with hiring power.  A network should be seen as a billboard.  The more people who view an advertisement, which evokes positive feelings, will buy the product and tell their friends.  You want people to buy your product, advertising yourself to others in a positive and professional manner builds your network and creates several other personal billboards to assist with selling your message.

The job search is a difficult and frustrating endeavor.  It takes time, dedication and an ability to withstand rejection.  Done correctly, and with the right expectations, it can lead to great success that includes new challenges as well as an enhanced skill set and professional network.