Job Doc

I’ve heard that companies are hiring right now, but I’m still not receiving any offers. What can I do to increase my chances? Elaine Varelas advises

There are many open positions in today’s market, but landing a job is sometimes a struggle. Elaine Varelas advises on how to improve your job search and increase your chances of an offer.

Ask the Job Doc. Boston.com

Q: I consistently hear that there are a lot of jobs available, but I am having a hard time receiving an offer. What can I do to increase my chances?

A: You are right – many employers are struggling to find strong employees, and employees are struggling to find the right employers. What you need to do right now is become a great candidate for jobs. This takes skills, patience, and practice. The only way for you to move ahead and stop looking for a job is by getting good at receiving job offers. You say you’re having a hard time getting an offer – let’s back up and review every step to ensure that you are looking at the entire scope of your process. To get to the end, each step has to work well.

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To end up with one or more offers, you need to fill the “job search funnel” with the right kind of opportunities. By the funnel, this means correctly focusing on the right target companies and positions for your skillset. Do the jobs you’re looking at require your expertise where you can deliver a positive impact? Are these functional roles and industry targets where your experience is competitive? Can a reader or an applicant tracking system (ATS) assess these skills easily? Develop a list of the kind of targets you believe would be most apt to hire you, as well as organizations where you have great interest. If you don’t have at least 100 organizations that are your targets, you will be hard pressed to generate offers. Create names of specific companies, roles you’re interested in, and review your list with a trusted colleague. If you don’t have a trusted colleague you can go to, reach out to a reliable former manager, or seek out a career counseling office. Find out if your target looks solid. You need to review every step of the process and having an extra set of eyes to support and challenge you can help.

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If your targeting meets the success criteria, move on. Develop networking contacts. These are people that you know and support you who may know others in specific organizations that you’re targeting. Your network can also proofread a draft of your resume to see if it meets the check list – what you’ve done and how you’ve made a positive impact in your previous roles (be it streamlining processes, increasing revenue, decreasing wait times for customers, etc.). Additionally, you’ll want to use your LinkedIn real estate to add greater detail about you and your accomplishments than what is on your resume. This is also where you want to build your network of supporters. As you curate and build this network, you need to fine tune the support you’re asking for. You have target companies, target jobs – this network should be able to give you shortcuts and better directions to find a way to get introduced to people at those companies.

If you’ve done all of this, now is the time to give yourself a success checkmark and move onto live networking meetings. These networking contacts should help you learn more about other companies that are looking for your skills or help you make connections and introductions inside your target companies. If this isn’t happening on a regular basis, take a pause. This is a significant area where people fail, and it is the most vital. Review what’s working – are you asking for a job or information? Are you asking your contacts to do too much? Are you taking notes (names, phone numbers, and emails that are being supplied to you), or are you asking others to email you the information? Are you drafting an introductory email to these people? If your networking is generating new introductions, you should be receiving interviews on a regular basis. To really improve your chances, do a mock interview with someone who is a skilled interviewer that can ask challenging questions. In return, you should also prepare questions to a potential employer to demonstrate the research you’ve done. This research should show your insight on how you can impact an organization and how specifically your abilities can help the business of the person hiring you.

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Your activity as a job seeker is not to end this networking process until you’ve signed an offer. And even when you have, it is important to remember the people that got you there. Draft thank you letters to those who helped you get through the process successfully, and make sure to maintain a permanent network. If you’re still not having success and you can’t identify what is going wrong with your interviews, reach out to the people who interviewed you and ask for candid feedback. It may be in your capabilities, but often it is in your presentation and communication skills. Getting honest feedback to strengthen yourself is vital in the current marketplace. With jobs widely available, you will be able to generate offers. It won’t happen quickly, but it will happen. It takes effort on your part to develop the skills in each step of the process to make you the most sought-after candidate available.

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