I’ve been trying to contact recruiters in my job search, but I’m not getting anywhere. I had assumed their role was all about helping people like me, but it seems like agencies just put you on their books and never offer you anything - you are just a number.
Am I going about this all wrong? How can I get recruiters to actually pay attention to me and help me find a job?
This is the latest edition of Job Seeker Love Letters where I respond to job seekers' questions with what I like to call "tough-love and love-love."
I’ll start with the good news: I think I have a job offer coming in this week! My interviews have all gone well, and the hiring manager told me herself that she wanted to cancel the interviews with other candidates because she thinks I’m the perfect person for the job. This is my dream company and I’m jumping out of my seat I’m so excited!!!
I’ve thought about negotiating, but since this is my dream company, what’s most important to me is not blowing the offer. Should I just take what they offer, or should I try to negotiate? I’m feeling totally lost in this and would appreciate your guidance.
I’ve been job hunting for four months. Which kills me, because three months ago, I was told I had a job offer on the way. After a promising conversation with a VP at [a telecommunications company], I was told I was a perfect fit for a new role being created. I spent three months interviewing and waiting on budget approval. The day before I was supposed to receive my official offer, the company instituted a hiring freeze and my role came off the table.
Now here I am, four months unemployed, and completely down on my prospects. I didn’t apply for any other jobs while I was interviewing because I had been practically promised this role would come through, so I have zero other interviews lined up, and the gap on my resume now feels too big to overcome. Why did this go so wrong? And where do I go from here?
Back To Square One
Dear Back To Square One:
Every day I hear similar stories -- of job seekers waiting weeks and even months to hear back from prospective employers.
And I know how it can feel to look at your calendar and think you should be further along; that sense of frustration and even panic that comes from having ‘nothing’ to show for your months of job hunting.
To help you get through this (and yes, you will get through this), or any job search problem for that matter, I always have two responses.
Most of us hesitate to share our deepest, most inspired career desires out loud.
It makes sense. Sharing what we want is risky.
We risk failure: “What if I tell someone I want to be X, and then it never works out? I’ll feel like a total flop.”
We risk rejection: “What if I say it out loud and people laugh, or tell me it’s not possible or that I’m not good enough?”
We risk our identity: “Everyone knows me as X. So I’d better be 100% sure of what I want before I start telling people about it.”
We risk our time and energy: “Once I say it out loud, it would sure take a lot of work to follow through and make it happen…”
But for all this risk, the bigger risk is NOT sharing our dreams. Because only once you share a dream out loud can the universe start conspiring to help you achieve it.
Sometimes I think back to past interviews… and all I can do is put my head in my hands and shake it back and forth while I wish the embarrassing memory away. Can you relate?
One memory in particular makes me cringe every time I play it back.
Nailing the interview starts to feel a whole lot less scary once you're exceptionally prepared. And that means being prepared to tackle each of these most-common interview questions with the NSC interview response formula:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why are you interested in working for us?
- Why are you looking for a new job / why do you want to leave your current organization?
- What are your strengths?
Tribe: On Homecoming & Belonging by American journalist, author and filmmaker Sebastian Junger is rich with story and fact, and I highly recommend reading it in full (~150 pages). In this brief summary, I share the main points that continue to stick with me, and how lessons from Tribe apply to today’s job seekers.
Every day I see job seekers with LinkedIn headlines or even resume summaries that start out like this:
In between jobs…
In fact, almost 1 million LinkedIn members are using these headlines to try and land their next gig right now.
But this approach is a huge mistake for two very important reasons:
The job search often feels like a black box -- you have no idea which inputs actually get noticed and make a difference in getting you that job offer.
But while the complex process of applying, networking and interviewing for jobs does require a strategic approach, I'm happy to share my four favorite phrases that quickly cut through the noise and dramatically improve my clients’ job search results.
In this article I share the four phrases -- and more importantly, the mindsets beneath them -- that drive not only job search success, but career success.
Most people don’t know what exactly they want to do with their careers. Even among leaders at Harvard Business School, fewer than 20% report having a strong sense of their career purpose.
Yet the perspective I consistently hear from job seekers (and that I have been pressured to feel in my own career) is that we are all born with one innate career purpose. And that if we just look hard enough or in the right places, we will find it. And that once we find it, we will be happy in our careers for all eternity.
This is quite simply the worst career advice out there. It’s not reflected in the numbers. It’s certainly not empowering to the 80% of us who don’t have that one career goal in mind. And most importantly, it’s not grounded in the reality that we are constantly changing people in a constantly changing world.
A metaphor I like to use for all the “innate purpose” and “follow your passion” advice is Michelangelo’s David.