Most people, especially at the executive level, will have a career that spans eight or more jobs. That adds up to at least eight rounds of job searching, so it’s important to learn to make your searches, resumes, and interviews as effective as possible. One of the best ways to improve any process or product is to analyze rejection and failures. Over eight job searches and a hundred or more applications, there are plenty of opportunities to analyze failure. It’s important to look at where rejection happens in the application process in order to understand what you need to improve.
Recently, a Forbes article caught my eye, it was about when job search rejection is a good thing. The author made the point that when you find yourself repeatedly rejected late in the process, it’s a good sign. She’s right. If you make it past the resume reading, that first phone interview with the gatekeeper, the first interview with hiring influencer, and get all the way to the second or third interview with the ultimate decision-maker, you’re doing everything right. Your resume is well-written and catches attention, you interview well, your salary requirements are on target, and you make a great first impression at every level. That’s really good news. Your last-level rejections are telling you to fine-tune the earliest part of the job search, the choice of where to apply. Keep doing exactly what you’re doing, but take a close look at the jobs and companies you’re applying to. If you were rejected at a series of start-ups, perhaps you’re better suited to an established firm. If global powerhouses are turning you down, perhaps a smaller company would jump to have you come aboard.
If you find that your applications never receive a reply at all, it’s time to revisit your resume. Is it scannable by the latest HR software? Does it list all your skills? It may be a simple error: You would not believe the number of candidate who simply forget to add their contact information to their resumes. If you can’t find any obvious faults, it may be time to hire a professional resume writer.
When the application process stops early in the interview process, it’s the interviews that are going wrong. An Executive Career Coach or Executive MBA Coach can help you choose how best to represent your skills and experience, help you practice your interview skills, and even help you choose a suit to make the best first impression possible.
If money is the sticking point after the initial interviews have gone well, you may need to go back and do some research on exactly what you’re worth in your local job market. Then you can decide to relocate to a bigger market with higher overall salaries, or to adjust your expectations downward into the expected range for your area and negotiate up to the higher end of the expected range. This may hurt, but you can always negotiate other meaningful benefits after the salary is in the right range.
You’ll have greater success with your job searches over your entire career if you’re willing to face your failures and analyze where you’re not connecting with hiring influencers. Small corrections to your process can equal big successes!