At some point during your working life, you will find yourself looking for a new job. There are a wide range of circumstances that may bring you to that point, ranging from retiring from public or military service; corporate reorganizations and/or leadership changes; you’re terminated; you resign; the location at which you work is destroyed; your company collapses financially; or you just want to advance your career in a new environment. While each of these circumstances may influence how you will position yourself during the job search, there are a number of common factors that place immense stress on an already difficult process.
We are referring to the actual activities in which you will be engaged to obtain your next role. This is a major life-changing event that is highly personal because as you begin to develop your messaging, letters, resumes and yes, “your 20-second elevator speech,” you must communicate who you are, what you have accomplished and those things of which you are most proud. You need to prepare yourself for rejection. Almost all candidates; no matter what experience level, background, previous recognition or highly visible role they have held, have been in this position. Just imagine having had a successful career progressing to some of the highest levels in your field, and not being able to get a potential employer’s HR department to drop you a note, return a call or even acknowledge you. This is culture shock for anyone who is accustomed to being in a leadership role.
First, unless you were fired for some serious act of misconduct or you’re an antisocial jerk, there is nothing that you are experiencing that you should take so personally that you ask, “Is there something wrong with me?.” Overall, conducting a job search is an imperfect process with nuances and changing events that are happening out of the public eye. Add organizational culture, market forces and the occasional insensitivity of those involved toward candidates, and you have a quick snapshot of today’s environment. It is our intention to acknowledge, inform and offer insights in the hope that it might be useful to know others are having the same feelings and experiences. The following factors are top offenders in adding to the aggravation:
1. Organizations do not always properly craft the job description to include the key elements being sought; you are now part of a large number of candidates who think they have the perfect background fit when in fact they do not.
2. The position elements are worded in a manner that suggests a much more senior role than is actually the case.
3. You’ve developed a perfect resume for your last role(s) but didn’t focus on the key points in the position description. If the person doing the initial resume screening has no frame of reference for transferable skill sets, it is not likely you will be noticed.
4. Organizations sometimes put too much emphasis on “industry experience” and because the hiring authority has an understanding of key elements of corporate security programs that are not industry specific, it is used as a screening crutch.
5. You submit a resume that has different information or employment history than what is listed on social media sites.
6. The submitted communication has grammatical and/or spelling errors. If the role mentions excellent communication skills, it stands a good chance of failing the first review.
7. Organizations tend not to respond well to receiving the same resume or generic cover letter in response to multiple position listings representing a wide variety of roles.
8. Many staffing functions within HR departments are understaffed and underfunded. Often, they have multiple high priority projects across numerous functions of an organization. This makes it very difficult to respond individually to the large volume of responses.
In the roller coaster environment of work today, the one consistent factor you can expect is change. Sometimes this is foreseeable, but often the indicators are missed, resulting in stress, financial concerns and fear of the unknown. Knowing that you are not going crazy and your peers and colleagues are having the same experiences may be some measure of help so that you can focus on identifying both personal and professional opportunities.