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Whether you've been job searching for one month or over nine months, now is the time to diagnose what's working and what isn't working in your job search. As the saying goes, if your phone isn't ringing, what you are doing isn't working.
The ultimate measure of your success in job search is a job offer. However, in order to reach this goal, you have to take the right actions and track your outcomes. It's hard to know how to adjust your job search if you don't know what works for you. So why aren't you landing a job when you've been applying to hundreds of them online?
Try asking yourself these questions and begin tracking your job search metrics.
Where are you finding job leads? Job boards seem the most likely spot to find job leads, but by the time a job is posted on a job board, it has been circulating inside the company. Internal candidates have thrown their resumes in the pile and employees have been telling friends and family about the job. If you only use job boards, you're arriving to the party too late. To proactively search for a job, create a list of 20 or more potential employers. These are companies who hire for the types of jobs you are interested in. Use your list and monitor the company career pages for similar jobs.
How many jobs did you apply to? Sending the same resume and generic cover letter to job postings is so 1980s. Your job search strategy is going to require planning and communicating a clear and customized message for every job or company you are interested in. It is a blend of quantity and quality which means you will need to develop a system for personalizing each and every application.
How many jobs did you think you would be a great fit for? Employers are selecting the best candidates, meaning candidates that match most of the job requirements. Do you? A general rule of thumb is to apply when you meet more than 60 percent of the requirements.
Did you follow up after you applied? When you made follow up calls, did you make contact with a live person or did you just leave a voicemail message? Or did you take the easy route and send an email? You want to make the extra effort and do everything possible to make live contact with the hiring manager, not human resources. The hiring manager has the power to hire you, so you want your qualifications and interest to come across.
How many people do you know inside your target companies? Referred candidates are far more likely to receive an interview and are also more likely to receive a job offer. You want to be the first one to know about a new job opportunity. Company insiders can provide you with this intelligence. The more people you know inside companies you want to work for, the more likely you can submit your qualifications early, when there isn't as much competition. This is why networking is so important. When you find a job you are interested in, reach out to everyone in your network and ask if they know anyone who works at that company. But it isn't uncommon to find you don't know anyone. Don't give up. Use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to find a contact to reach out to.
How many new people did you meet last week? It would be great if you knew everyone you needed to. But the truth is, you need to meet new people every week and expand your network. Focus your attention and effort meeting people who work inside your target companies. Keep in mind, you'll have better success doing this if you use a common connection to help facilitate the introduction. Once you've met someone, always follow up with a thank you message. Another way to meet new people is to attend professional association meetings, conferences or meetups. And remember to stay in touch.
How many people did you re-connect with last week? Your network requires attention. In order to sustain the relationships you've made, both in the past and recently, you want to keep in touch with past colleagues and people you've met. Develop a system for reaching out every one to two months with people in your network, especially those inside target companies.
How many phone screening calls have you had as a result of submitting for a job? Not every application will convert into a phone screen. However, if no one is calling and you've applied to many jobs, the problem is with your resume. Make sure you address as many of the job requirements as truthfully possible.
Begin tracking your efforts in these areas, and while it is difficult to set specific goals, you can strive to do more each week. Keep in mind, quality is better than quantity. What works for one person, in one industry or occupation, may not necessarily work for another. The key here is to do more of what is working for you and incorporate new ways of generating leads.