Managing Your Job Search Expectations

Managing Your Job Search Expectations

Peter Weddle

I receive a lot of emails from job seekers in transition, and lately I've noticed that many are saying approximately the same thing: "I've done everything I'm supposed to do online, and I still don't have a job. I've searched the postings and archived my resume at job boards, I've done research on employers and joined networking sites, but so far I'm not getting any offers. What am I doing wrong?"

The short answer is probably that nothing's wrong. What's out of whack is our perception of what the Internet can and cannot do. This technology is one of the single most effective ways to find employment opportunities ever devised, but it takes time to work. The Internet is not some genie that can grant you a dream job in the blink of an eye. It's not a magic carpet that can carry you off to a more satisfying career the minute you hop on. No, the Web for all of its reach and technological power is bound by the pace of the humans who use it at the other end – the employers and recruiters who use it to find new talent.

So, the key to using the Web to your advantage is, first and foremost, to manage your expectations. You can do everything right on the Web, and it will still probably take time to connect with the right employer for you. There will always be exceptions to that rule, of course -- individuals who go online one day and get a great new job the next – but for most of us it will be a long and difficult task. As the saying goes, finding a new job – at least one that you want to work in – is the hardest job you will ever have, and the Web doesn't change that.

There are, however, rules that will ensure a job search works for you. They are:

  • Performance Trumps Actions Every Time
  • Virtual Works Best With the Best That's Real

Let's take a look at each of these principles:

  1. Performance Trumps Actions Every Time
  2. The benefit that you get from the Internet depends not only on what you do, but how you do it. Of course you want to take advantage of all that's on offer – you should tap job boards, career research sites and networking communities in your job search, but this won't ensure success. As much as job seekers may hate to hear this, it takes more than just doing the work to land the best jobs. So what else do you need?

  3. Expertise

    You must not only do the right things online, but you must do things in the right way. You need to hone your job hunting skills, and the better you perform, the better your outcome will be.

    For example, if you visit the first job boards that come to mind, that certainly gives you a check in the "Use Job Boards" box. However it won't help you see the best employment opportunities for you. For that, you have to do your homework and find job boards that post the kinds of jobs you want at the salary you can command. Investing time on these sites is more likely to help you find job opportunities for which you are qualified. The same is true with online networking. Lots of people flock to LinkedIn to build up their address book with connections. That's fine, but it's not networking. To transform those connections into relationships that will help you in a job search, you must practice the Golden Rule of Networking: You must give in order to get. If you want people to share their knowledge and contacts with you, you have to share your knowledge and contacts with them. This takes far more time and effort than simply adding another name to your address book, but it's also far more beneficial. Instead of just a long list of names, you'll have a vibrant network of relationships with people who can help you.

  4. Virtual Works Best With the Best That's Real
  5. The Internet is seductive – its vast array of resources make it hard to turn off. But turn it off you must. As capable as the virtual world is, it's not a one stop shop for finding a job. You need to include the real world in your job search as well. The best approach is one that integrates the best of what you can find on the Web with the best of what's available everyplace else.

How do you know what that is?

Recently we asked visitors to identify how they found their last job. Over 17,000 people responded, and here are the top five strategies they identified:

  1. Searching jobs posted at job boards and/or archiving their resume on those sites
  2. A tip from a friend (what we call networking in the real world)
  3. Reading ads published in a print newspaper
  4. A call from a headhunter
  5. Being referred by an employee of the company (also a form of networking)

These findings show that despite our love of all things digital, when it comes to finding a new or better job, old fashioned methods are often just as effective. Of the five strategies cited, three of them occur in the real world, not online (although a tip from a friend can occur in both).

Does this mean you should start doing as many different things as possible in your job search? Absolutely not. Instead begin by spending the time to figure out which methods play to your strengths, and which put you at a disadvantage. For example, if you're outgoing and good at conversation, you might try traditional face-to-face networking. But if you're more introverted, networking online might better serve your needs. It's worthwhile to look at all your options, but only select those that you can do best.

Ultimately, the best strategy for a successful job search is a combination of both of the principles I've described. Select a range of job search methods, high tech and low, and then perform each of them to the best of your ability. It's not the number of things you do, but the expertise you apply in each method that will lead you to true job search success.

Formerly the Chairman and CEO of Job Bank USA, Peter Weddle is an
HR consultant, recruiter, author and commentator with an international
reputation. He has authored or edited more than two dozen books,
including "Recognizing Richard Rabbit: A Fable About Being True to
Yourself", "Work Strong: Your Personal Career Fitness System" and
"WEDDLE's 2009/10 Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet". In
addition, he oversees WEDDLE's, a print publisher specializing in the
field of human resources. WEDDLE's annual Guides and Directory to job
boards are recognized for their accuracy and helpfulness, leading the
American Staffing Association to call Weddle the "Zagat of the online
employment industry." Peter Weddle is also CEO of the International
Association of Employment Websites.

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