Before we go any further, it’s worth emphasizing that if you’ve been actively searching for a job for six months and have no offers, you’re definitely not alone. (And despite what your friends and family say, you’re not being “too picky.”) We’ve all been there, myself included. In fact, this entire article’s inspired by own very long job search.
While I ended up with a job I love, I also realized along the way that if I had changed a few things, I could’ve shortened the whole process. So, if you’ve been at this for awhile and you’re not really making progress, check out these three questions.
1. Are You Making Your Value Clear?
I’m just going to say it: I’m the kind of person who really loves hearing the sound of his own voice. And for a long time, I really loved being asked about myself in interviews. They were easy questions to answer, and I could have talked for days. The only problem was that I didn’t make it clear that I’d bring any value to the company, other than maybe adding a new voice to lunchtime conversation.
Maybe that’s not your problem—in fact, maybe you hate talking about yourself. So, instead, you mumble your answers. Or, maybe you don’t mumble, but you get off topic talking about industry trends or something you watched on Netflix recently—rather than your qualifications. Even if interviews aren’t your forte (and really, nobody’s perfect at interviewing), you need to make sure all your answers are telling the hiring manger what value you’d bring to the company.
2. Would I Be Excited to Read My Cover Letter?
Considering that I’m a full-time writer, this is kind of embarrassing to admit. But, for a long time, my cover letters were really, really boring. Of course I knew that cover letters are important. And there are a lot of really great templates to help you get started. But, without just a little bit of my personality, they were pretty much identical to every other cover letter that had been written based on my template of choice.
Take a minute and re-read your cover letter. If you can’t make it through the entire thing, that’s a good sign that employers aren’t super intrigued by it either. While you should be careful about crossing the line between professional and casual chatter, feel free to let your personality shine though. In my case, I added a few lines about how embarrassed I was by previous versions of it, but that I spent some time rewriting it because I really wanted the job. While that might seem risky, I have a really cool gig now—so the proof is in the pudding.
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3. Do I Actually Want Any of These Jobs?
This is important to consider for two reasons. First, you might not be getting offers for those jobs because it’s in everyone’s best interest to go in a different direction (trust me, recruiters know when someone would be unhappy in a role). And if that’s the case, your poker face about the fact that you don’t want the job might not be as good as you think.
Now that I’m writing full-time, I can see how I might not have been super friendly or enthusiastic in interviews for gigs that involved zero creativity. And because of that, I didn’t get any of those jobs. I can just imagine the conversations I made those hiring people have. “He’s qualified,” they probably said, “But boy, would he be bored by this work or what?”
The good news? There’s really nothing wrong with coming to this realization. And it’s a great reason to take some time to think about what you actually want to be doing for a living.
Searching for a job’s not easy. And sometimes, it’s really frustrating, especially when it’s been a long time and you still have no offers. But, I know you’re resilient enough to ask yourself some tough questions. You might not like the answers (I know I didn’t), but you’ll learn a lot. And when you see what hiring managers might be seeing in you, you’ll often find that the fixes aren’t as bad as you originally thought. So, be bold and be honest with yourself. But don’t beat yourself up. Because you’re definitely not alone.
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Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy or follow his blog.More from this Author