What To Do If You Are Struggling To Land A Job Interview

In this post, I talk about what to do when all the job search advice stops working. When you are not getting responses to your applications or when all you are getting is "No." I give you a progression to steps to take that will get your job search back on track.

Vin Vashishta | Originally Published: May 5th, 2021

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This is frustrating which makes it difficult to see a way out. I want to work through a progression that will get you out of bad habits. First, are you getting any responses at all? If not, your application process is broken.

That can come from a couple of issues. Are you applying to the right roles? When you are applying to sometimes hundreds of different roles, it can all blur together. Spend time reading the roles and think behind the skills lists. What are they really asking for and how well do you see yourself filling the role? How well do you understand a day in the life of their desired candidate? Sometimes you need to slow down and look at different types of roles to find a better fit.

Are you applying to the right companies? Big companies are attractive, but it can be easier to get started in a small or mid-sized business. If everything you have gone for is at a startup or big business or a single industry, diversify your applications.

Is your timing right? Instead of applying for jobs that just posted, look for jobs that have been open for more than 60 days. Beginning and end of quarter are your best times to apply for a role; March 15-April 15, June 15-July 15, and September 15-October 15. End of November to the 1st week of January are dead zones because so many people take time off. If you are not getting responses during this time, there is not much you can do about it. Fortunately, there is a massive hiring crunch in January to make up for lost time.

What If All You Get Is “No”

If you are getting responses and they are all negative, your presentation is broken. Review your resume. Reformat to put your strongest sections at the beginning of your resume. Is your education impressive? Have you won awards? Have you published? Do you have significant project experience?

Think about putting different sections up front to showcase yourself immediately. Are you using a skills list? Reformat skills to capabilities. Talk about the skill in terms of what results or work products you can create using that skill.

Add results. What business value have you created? What improved because of the classes you took? What did you learn from an independent project? What new value can you bring to the business? Be as specific as possible.

Are you selling yourself short? Many people will leave off capabilities that are not perfectly polished yet. A lack of confidence can have you underselling your role in delivering a project. Avoid leaving achievements off your resume because you feel like they are bragging or too small to be worth mentioning.

If those two do not get you anywhere, it is time to look at your larger online presence. If I am looking at your resume and I want to know more, do you have links to it? Think about setting up a portfolio site, github for projects, or blog. Add details to your LinkedIn profile. Spend a bit of time posting on social media.

Put those links front and center on your resume and in your profiles. Also make it easy to contact you via email or DM. Make it clear that you are actively looking for a role and ask hiring managers to reach out.

Time To Ask For Help?

If you run through all three of these and do not see any issues, get another set of eyes on all three. Ask someone else for their perspective. Ask specific questions around the three areas I just discussed. Do not let your advisors stray too far off topic or give you edge case type advice. Keep them focused on the jobs you have been applying for, your resume, and your larger online profile.

Make sure you listen. When the job search is going badly, it is easy to get defensive so take outside advice seriously.

Another way to approach this is to look at the LinkedIn profiles of people in the job you are applying for. What do they have that you do not? How are they presenting themselves? What do they highlight in their profile? Do they use different terminology?

That is your progression. Review your application process, resume, online profile, and get an outside perspective. Do not keep doing the same things and expecting different results. Do a root cause analysis on your process. Make small changes with each improvement cycle. Iterate rapidly.

Remember, if you are qualified and can do the job, your capabilities are not the problem. Something in the process is broken. Focus on finding the issues and fixing your process.