One of my clients walked into our job search team meeting one day and declared: “Persistence. I think it just really takes persistence to get a job today.”
The comment started me thinking. What had I noticed about the traits of successful job seekers? What did they seem to have in common? Job seekers who landed new positions in recent years persisted in their searches when others gave up. But what else?
Consistency. Successful job seekers were consistent in performing job search activities. For instance, they established a work schedule for their job search and worked consistently on a daily basis -- networking, writing letters, researching online, making calls, sending e-mails, setting up meetings, going to meetings, and targeting organizations that might be good employers of their talents. In other words they persisted consistently.
What other traits did successful job seekers share? What I’ve observed about job seekers who landed a job or got a new role in these recent tough, tough years.
1. Successful job seekers really, really, really, really wanted a job. First and foremost, to get a job they had to really, really, really, really want a job. Otherwise, they wouldn't have done what it takes – putting in the hours, exerting the energy, putting themselves in less than comfortable “networking” situations, and doing the job search activities required today.
Those who got a job were single-minded in their purpose of wanting a job. They didn't dilute their resolve by wanting a job but maybe opening a business. Or maybe doing consulting. Or maybe going back to school.
For those who were successful, finding a job was their top priority. They put job search activities first. They chose to attend networking events, go to meetings, contact people they didn’t know, develop and then re-develop or refine their marketing materials, apply for positions, and send yet one more resume to a targeted and desirable company over personal activities.
2. Successful job seekers wanted THAT JOB. When interviewing for a position, successful job seekers demonstrated in thought, word, and deed that they wanted THAT JOB. They focused only on getting that job, not why they didn’t think they wanted it. Why? Employers seem to pick up on the vibe that you may not really want that job.
Successful job seekers reserved any judgement and focused their full attention and energy on selling themselves as the solution for the prospective employer’s needs for each position they pursued. They showed intense interest in the position, and a passion for the role, company, and industry. They appeared knowledgeable about the role and company, having done their homework in researching the company. They posed a good argument as to why they were the best candidate for the job. And, their obviously thorough preparation displayed a willingness to go the extra mile, gladly.
Of course, when they went on to their next interview, they displayed the same interest in THAT JOB.
3. Successful job seekers were persistent. They persisted when others gave up, and they did it with high energy and a good attitude. Easier said than done I know. Especially when you’ve been working at it for a month, or two, or three and nothing seems to be happening. But as one old adage says: “He, or she, who stops punching first loses the fight.” In the fight for finding a new position, if you stop searching for a new position, you don’t find one.
4. Successful job seekers were consistent. Successful job seekers worked at their job search consistently. They treated their searches as their day job, and night job too if they had evening meetings, classes, or events to attend. They worked weekends as well as holidays.
I recalled others who worked sporadically -- even in spurts of brilliance -- at finding a job. While intermittent efforts might have led to success in previous employment markets, I observed this method to be far less successful than simply working consistently, day-by-day.
5. Successful job seekers were visible. Successful job seekers found ways to get their names known and their resumes on the top of the stack. Through diligence and perseverance, successful job seekers found ways to gain visibility inside their targeted firms, and then maintained their visibility through following up.
How? By various means of introducing and then re-introducing themselves into the company or organization. They used multiple media to get their names and qualifications known.
- Employee referrals by finding a contact inside the firm who sent or carried their resume into the office of a hiring manager, or Human Resources employee.
- They learned the name of a hiring manager and wrote directly to that manager.
- They attended a job fair, got names and contact information, and followed up with a note and copy of their resume.
- They attended conferences and association meetings to learn about and meet people from potential employing companies.
- They used social media, such as LinkedIn, to learn about a firm or whom to contact within the organization.
In other words, their goal was for “everyone to know their name!”
6. Successful job seekers followed-up. So many opportunities are lost through lack of follow-up. Successful job seekers made it easy for prospective employers not only to know their name, but to see them as a quality candidate by following up in meaningful ways.
Successful job seekers did not consider their job done when they sent off a resume, attended a networking event, had an interview, or met with a colleague. They followed up each activity with appropriate actions that moved their candidacy forward. They followed up with a note, additional information, a helpful idea. If need be, they followed up yet again, displaying their genuine interest, obvious competence, and helpful disposition. They displayed their willingness to go the extra mile!
Nancy Gober is a career strategist who has helped thousands of job seekers find employment. She’s also been a popular resume reviewer at our Cleared Job Fairs. You may reach Nancy via email at [email protected].