The dreaded job search

Published: 02 Sep 2014 By Elly Walsh

Are you fed up with rejections, knock backs and the polite ‘thanks but no thanks’?

Elly Walsh, Director of I am Recruitment, tells you how to reach offer stage with the odds in your favour.
I speak to many candidates who feel deflated, having spent time and effort sending off hundreds of job applications and not hearing anything back –or indeed those who reach first stage interview only to receive nothing back or a polite ‘your experience is not quite right for this position – good luck with your search’ response. There is nothing more frustrating than applying and being knocked back and it can dent a candidate’s confidence immensely.
Having worked as an Events Manager and freelancer earlier in my career, I know how frustrating this can be. However, having subsequently  worked within specialist events recruitment for the last seven years, I think I might finally have the ‘real’ reasons behind my previous failures in not getting those jobs and can therefore advise you – the candidate – on how best to process those inevitable ‘failures’.
You might feel like you are one of hundreds applying for a specific job, but it is that sort of negative thought process that can make you give up before you have properly got going. The problem is that we are not looking at the real statistics.  If you end up counting every rejection as a failure, you will end up making serious changes to your job search without any genuine feedback on what you are doing correctly or incorrectly. 
There are so many reasons why you might not receive a job offer and most of the time; they are nothing to do with you - unless of course you turn up intoxicated or inappropriately dressed.
Organisations are often not entirely sure what they ‘really’ want in a candidate or they already have the perfect candidate for the role lined up. A U-turn can also often be on the cards – companies are quite good at changing their minds mid-way through the hiring process.

Recruitment freezes and internal changes are usually the culprits, when things change and the job or person they are looking for changes. Then there is always the internal candidate to compete with who has already been ‘informally’ offered the job and the company is just going through the ‘right procedures’ by interviewing external candidates. These, among many others, are just some of the basic reasons for not reaching the first or second interview stage.
So, how to move forward positively?  I recently came across the ‘jobs dartboard’ – a bit cheesy, but it is a simple metaphor that works. Think of the three rings on your job application as a dartboard. Firstly, your ‘wild shots’; jobs where you are an unlikely candidate and positions you applied for ‘just to see’. Secondly, the ‘outer ring’; these are the jobs where you will always be an outside candidate and will struggle to get shortlisted because others have more appropriate skills. Yes, you hear it all the time but it is true - if you are putting yourself forward for an interview at Barclays Bank and your last role was for Barnados, it is likely that the candidate with four years experience at HSBC will land the job. Lastly, applications for the jobs that are a great match for you and you are a serious contender.
So, how many jobs have you applied for that are close to the bulls eye?  These applications are the only ones that count in terms of statistics and feedback. If rejections come from any of the outside rings, then they cannot be counted. You have to aim for the jobs where you will be their number one choice. You will find it is more likely to be your job search strategy that needs changing rather than your interview technique.
My conclusion: don’t waste your time on the outside ring; always aim for that BULLSEYE.  These are the applications that SHOULD get you through to the final stage.

But what should you do if you don’t get selected?  Then feedback is the key. You must know where you are going wrong, if you don’t ask, you will never learn. I once had a candidate who closed her eyes every time she spoke and another whose neck and face went bright red every time she spoke, making her look extremely nervous. Neither of them was aware of these things until I pointed them out. After several mock interviews and the addition of a polo neck – both candidates landed their next roles.

Whether using a recruitment agency or going direct, you must ensure you receive feedback – it could prove to be the key that lands you your dream job. One final nugget of advice: practice. It does make perfect after all.

Elly Walsh is owner and Director of ‘I am’ Recruitment a specialist agency for the Events Sector.  She holds over 15 years within the events industry half of which she worked in events across production, logistics and marketing.
If you would like to get in touch with ‘I am’ Recruitment and discuss your career, please pop us a line on the below details with your CV and we would be glad to have a natter!

Good luck in your job search for 2014

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