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Overlooked Details that Kill your Jobsearch

Today, most jobseekers know that there’s more to getting the job than the basics. The struggle to identify all the moving parts of the jobsearch and integrate all of them to bring in a job offer is a daunting task. It is also a moving target.

The standard definition of “detail” is: an individual feature, fact, or item.

Using that definition, a “detail” in your jobsearch could be found either in the overarching approach to your search or in a small, seemingly insignificant point on your résumé.

The Problem:

Do any of these points describe your experience?
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  • You spend hours and hours pouring over your cover letter and résumé. This includes asking others to edit it, make suggestions. You painstakingly communicate to them just how eager you are to get their “valued” feedback…but nothing happens.
  • You diligently spend time on LinkedIn, connecting with people, participating in groups, “liking” conversations and comments. You routinely check to see who has looked at your profile and reach out…and no one calls.
  • You conscientiously structure a networking program and call each person, meet with them, send a thank-you note, and track what you learned. Then you select the next set of people to connect with and repeat the process. Not much happens that seems appropriate to your jobsearch and discouragement sets in.
  • You join a support group for jobseekers and even participate in a small accountability team…this helps you manage the emotional disappointment and frustration, but your jobsearch doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
After all that work, the whole process may seem like a mean trick! What’s wrong?

The Solution:

Is there a fundamental problem or is the devil really in the details? The answer is: it’s very likely…both!

Critical Success Factor Number 1:

Your jobsearch has to have a foundation. The entirety of your search has to encapsulate one cohesive, integrated message. To get these elements in place, ask the following questions.
Do you have:
  • An understanding of your industry and how jobs are changing?
  • An understanding of the market— to know where the best opportunities will be with regard to your skill sets?
  • An understanding of your network to know who can be the most help?
  • An ability to articulate what you are looking for and how your skills will bring value to a business or organization?
The composite of these answers will shape and direct your jobsearch. They will help you focus, track, and eliminate unproductive activities.

Critical Success Factor Number 2:

No matter where someone looks, your finely crafted message has to be consistent and substantive.

Consider all the places where a potential hiring professional may find information about you. Include the following:
  • LinkedIn (Your picture, profile summary, experience, groups, comments, etc.)
  • Your cover letter and résumé
  • Your network and how they talk about you
  • Conversations with you (phone, voice mail, and face to face)
  • Email inquires or responses
  • Text messages
  • Your dress and non-verbal behavior during an interview
Every time you engage with a potential hiring professionals, and every time they experience you through these mediums, there has to be a consistent message. So if you work in an area where accuracy in the management of details is critical, and there are misspelled words in your emails, what will the hiring professional think?

Case Study: Three little words that knocked him out!

A young client and new graduate applied for positions of interest. No action. I checked everything. The jobs were appropriate for an early-career jobseeker with his degree and skill sets. The cover letter and résumé – stellar. His LinkedIn profile was polished. He was careful and thoughtful in his application preparation.

In frustration, I took his contact information off his résumé and sent it out to a few hiring professionals and asked for feedback. The response astounded me: He had a minor in Art History. That was enough to deter people from calling. Huh? Why? …because he was applying for positions where he would be required to hold his own when presenting his research and analyses in front of senior management. The minor in Art History made him look weak. Really? I couldn’t believe it! But we eliminated the minor from his résumé and zowie!…calls came in for interviews.

A seemingly small detail cut him out of the candidate field.

Details are everywhere and every jobseeker has to diligently check everything. Making assumptions can be costly. Tracking the kinds of changes that are being made and potential responses is important.

Your Action Steps:

Does your jobsearch have a foundation?

  1. Answer the questions from the section above. If you are having trouble, then take the time to investigate. When talking to people in your industry, when participating in groups on LinkedIn, ask questions to glean important information about your industry, the market, and get their ideas on how you can best bring value.
  2. Revisit these questions at least once a month and either confirm or tweak your answers to maintain a consistent focus during your search.

Is your information consistent and substantive?

  1. Take time to carefully read your LinkedIn Profile, your résumé, and your practiced responses to standard interview questions. Consider the details. Is there one cohesive message?

    This is what people know about you—that you can control. The responses from your references will hopefully substantiate your messaging. TIP: Don’t veer away from your foundational message. Substantiate the messages with examples, but stay focused. (No rabbit trails!)
  2. Check for overused, generic words and phrases. You can do a quick Internet search to find the overused word lists. It includes words and phrases. Here are a few examples: “dynamic, strategic, thought-leader.” Also consider these common, yet typical entries:
    • Customer service
      What kind? How about: Customer service enthusiast! …or “Customer service satisfaction”
    • Strong communication skills (written and verbal)
      I really groan when I see this. How about: “Clear, efficient business communication”
    • Project management
      This is another entry that is guaranteed to get professionals to ignore you. What kind of project management? A birthday party? an event for 450 people? …or “IT SDLC project life-cycle management”
  3. Look at every “Results statement” on your résumé. Do they indicate the impact that your work had on the business? Are they truly a result of your work? These are the sections that hiring managers read.
* * *
This process doesn’t happen overnight. As jobseekers educate themselves on their industry, the jobs market, and the messages that their readers receive, they will be able to thoughtfully tweak their materials and presentation.

Unique luminous box Once a potential hiring professional shows an interest, each touch-point has to fit into a comprehensive experience that continually supports your primary message that clearly and succinctly defines the value you bring and the problems you will help them solve. When every aspect of the a jobseeker’s search is aligned, he or she will stand out from all other jobseekers.

To speed your jobsearch, get professional help. It may seem expensive, but it will likely play a significant role in reducing the length of your jobsearch.

Here are a few selected blogs that further discuss the points made in this blog.
Educating your network:
The number one deadliest mistake that most jobseekers make. Read more.

Creating a consistent online image: How to cut your jobsearch in half. Read more.

Creating one consistent message with polish and finesse.
How to play the number game and get a job. Read more.

Remember: If you don’t stop learning and you don’t give up, you will get a job. Think critically and stay ahead of the curve.

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