Question: How can I keep my head held high when I keep getting turned down for jobs?
The job search process can be frustrating, without question. For some people, they are looking in the wrong industry, community, or company. For other job seekers, their resumes, industries, and skills align beautifully, but they still get more rejection letters than interviews.
An effective job search should include much more than just sending resumes and cover letters and more than filling out online job posts and stalking hiring managers at industry meetings. An effective job search means making yourself compelling, relevant, and findable to potential employers. This should (ideally) start before you even separate from the military, but for some of you, that's not possible.
Here are some tips to make your search more effective and keep your focus in the process:
1. Think about how you want others to perceive you. Do you want to be seen as someone who is collaborative, helpful, and focused on making the organization bigger and better? Or, do you want them to see you as a leader who can make tough decisions and stay resilient in the face of challenges and obstacles? Or, maybe you want to be perceived as an expert in your field who brings an expediency and results-focus that the company desperately needs? Being clear about how you want to be perceived will drive the way you network, show up, and follow up to interviews.
2. Get networked in ahead of time. The internet makes it simple to find out about the company, their hiring practices, and their commitment to veteran on-boarding and recruitment in advance. Look on LinkedIn or the company website to see what programs or initiatives the company has to recruit former military members. Look at their employee list and see if any veterans currently work there. Perhaps introduce yourself via email in advance of sending your resume Sometimes these contacts can help you get an understanding of the culture of the company and any weak spots or opportunities you might mention in your interview.
3. Make sure hiring managers can find you online. Did you neglect your LinkedIn profile (or maybe you never set one up)? Be sure to accurately promote and portray your goals online. Many recruiters and hiring managers will search for you online after getting your resume – sometimes even before they meet you! If they can't find anything about you on a business site like LinkedIn, or even in Google, they might overlook moving forward. It doesn't sound fair, but it's true. Add content to a blog, set up your online profiles (LinkedIn, Google+, even Facebook) to show employers who you are, what you're interested in, and what you can offer them.
4. Focus on consistency, not perfection, online. Once you have built some profiles and are now findable by employers, ensure your online image is consistent across channels and consistent with who you are as a person. It does not serve you well to appear professional, serious, and passionate about technology online if you are truly a more laid-back, carefree, and artistic individual in person. Your goal is to highlight your positives, downplay your weaknesses, and let others learn who you are before they decide to meet you and interview you.
5. Get very clear on what the hiring manager needs from you. What are they looking for – an order taker to sit at a desk all day? Someone to inspire and motivate teams? A forward thinking leader who can make tough choices? Once you figure out the logistics of what they need, focus on what they need to feel about you. Do they need to feel they like you or respect you? Do they need you to make them feel safe? Every individual has real needs – functional and emotional. A good interview is one where you meet both sets of needs.
The number of variables that can occur when interviewing for a job are endless. However, focusing on who you are, how you want to be perceived, and the needs of your target audience (hiring managers) gets you much further than your competitors. Then, focus on building consistency across all media – online and in person – to ensure that if the do hire you, you will be successful in the job.