Wednesday, February 24, 2021

From Vault: How to Change Your Job-Search Approach and Turn Rejections into Offers

[Vault is a service available through Careers4Terps] 

by Jamie Carlstedt | February 19, 2021


"Believe in Yourself" mural-black cursive on yellow background









Regardless of whether you find out at the beginning or end of the hiring process that you didn’t [get] an offer, it's a mistake not to change your approach going forward. If you keep taking the same approach, you'll likely keep getting the same results.

And rejection isn’t the worst part. When you don’t get a job offer, it can be easy to begin to lose faith in yourself and doubt your value. However, your value has nothing to do with rejection—it’s your inability to communicate your value that’s typically the problem.

So, to make sure you’re taking the right approach with your job search, here are four tips for effectively communicating your skills, knowledge, and experience.

1. Be clear about what you want

Do you know exactly what you want? If not, that needs to come first.

Most professionals, when looking to make a job change, immediately put together a resume and cover letter and start submitting them to dozens of online listings. However, each listing is usually different, requiring different skills, types of knowledge, and experience. This means your applications need to be different for each listing.

Of course, it’s extremely difficult to please everyone—and you can’t! But it’s simple to please a specific, target audience. When you know what you want and who you’re marketing yourself to, you can then research and understand exactly what someone is looking for. So, before you begin your job search, make sure you do all of the following:

  • Narrow your search down to your desired industry
  • Narrow down to your desired companies
  • Narrow down to your desired position(s)
  • Understand the responsibilities of your desired positions
  • Understand the skills, knowledge, and experiences you need (and need to convey) to get those positions
  • Understand the requirements and desired preferences of your target companies

2. Strategically position and differentiate yourself

After clarifying what you want and what your target audience wants, you then need to decide how to strategically position yourself as the perfect fit.

Your resume, LinkedIn profile, and cover letter are not for telling your entire background story; they’re for marketing and selling your professional value as the solutions to employers’ recruiting problems (in fact, they only need to get you the interview). So, you need to show that you bring exactly what employers are looking for.

When reviewing your strategic positioning and marketing documents (resume, LinkedIn, cover letter), ask yourself these three questions:

  • Do I know exactly what my specific target audience wants?
  • Do I know what relevant skills, knowledge, and experiences I have to offer?
  • How am I currently positioning myself for my specific desired opportunity?

Do your best to answer these three questions in order, and after you’ve done that, review and update your marketing materials and interview preparation.

3. Start networking

How are you pursuing career opportunities?

Most people aren’t aware that approximately 85 percent of positions are filled through networking. This is due to the fact that when a company fills a position by way of referral, there’s a much better chance of a faster, less expensive recruiting process, as well as a better chance of hiring someone who’s a long-term cultural fit. The cost of the full-blown recruiting process for a position can be expensive: as much as 10 percent or higher than the position’s annual salary.

If 85 percent of positions are filled through networking, that leaves 15 percent for online applications, making online applications the most competitive and least effective approach for trying to land your desired position.

So, if you’re primarily relying on online applications, you must start networking. It’s not a should or maybe but an absolute must. And you can find out how to start doing that here.

If you’re already networking but it’s not working, you’ll need to change your approach to networking. The relationship must come first, everything else comes second. You can find more about how to change your approach here.

4. Articulate how you can add value

How are you pitching your value and communicating in interviews?

You can compare an interview process to going on many separate dates with someone before committing to the long-term relationship. Before dating someone, we naturally ask ourselves two questions:

  • Does this person align with what I’m looking for?
  • Do I genuinely like this person?

In the interview process, the questions are essentially the same. Do you bring what they’re looking for? Do you fit their team, energy, and atmosphere?

Write these two questions on a blank sheet of paper and begin bullet-pointing reasons for why you bring what they’re looking for, and how you believe you align with a company’s values, team, energy, and atmosphere. Once you do that, you’ll be able to begin to alter your interview prep—and start to see the difference in your interviews.

A final note

Every problem has a solution, and your rejections have one, too. Start reviewing and analyzing your job-search approach, and you'll be well on your way to solving this frustrating (and common) problem.

Jamie Carlstedt is a career coach to business professionals. Many people want to make a change in their lives and careers but don’t know how, and Jamie provides the coaching, training, and resources needed to help them advance their lives and careers, grow professionally, and make more money. Jamie’s the Founder of Redstone Coaching and previously worked as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs (in NYC). He's coached 100+ business professionals, is certified in Life Coaching & Business Mastery, and was the first student in Michigan State's history to land a job with Goldman Sachs’ investment banking division.