I recently received an email from a former job seeker who said she landed a job after three years. I’ve also heard from other job seekers who landed jobs after more than a year into their job search. What was the secret to their success? In one word, persistence.
One definition of persistence is a “firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.” A simple definition would be, “not giving up.”
What we know about the job search is that there are new obstacles that make it difficult. I say this based on my experience in the job search when certain requirements were not expected of me.
Having witnessed many job seekers struggle with their job search, I can say it is harder now than when I was unemployed. Here are six reasons why:
1. The applicant tracking system (ATS) is more prevalent. One source says 127 people apply for entry-level positions and 89 apply for professional level positions. What this means is employers would have to read many résumés without the aid of an ATS. Instead, they rely on a “robot” that reads resumes and chooses the ones that are, theoretically, the best ones.
The ATS relieves employers from reading more than 75% of résumés for a position. That’s the good news. The bad news is that job candidates must write keyword-rich résumés that get them past the ATS. And many qualified job seekers are unaware of this requirement.
Writing tailored résumés for each job requires persistence. It’s easy to put together a generic résumé and send it to every position for which you apply. To modify your Summary, or re-write it entirely, and prioritize relevant accomplishments is entirely different. Only by doing this will you get past the ATS.
2. Employers rely heavily on social media. Two years after I had to look for work LinkedIn came on the scene, and a year later Facebook arrived. I didn’t have to contend with either. LinkedIn, originally developed for business but largely used by job seekers for their search, takes diligence, knowledge of the platform, and realizing its significance.
Jobvite.com recently revealed that 87 percent of hiring authorities use LinkedIn to cull talent, so it makes common sense to be on LinkedIn. Job seekers are using LI to find people at companies they’re targeting, networking with people who might provide opportunities, and using the Jobs feature. To be effective, job seekers must use LinkedIn daily. This takes persistence.
Although not used as much as LinkedIn, Facebook has a job-search purpose. Recruiters are on Facebook, and they’re reaching out to job seekers. Jobvite.com also revealed that more job seekers are using Facebook (67 percent) for their search than LinkedIn.
A serious consideration is keeping your Facebook account professional, because hiring authorities are looking on Facebook to see if you’re behaving. I was asked by one of my managers to look at job candidates on Facebook. One particular candidate didn’t come across as a girl scout. Enough said.
3. Employers are pickier. The average time to find employment is approximately 26 weeks, based on a position paying $60,000. In addition, many employers have extended the number of interviews from two to four, or even five. And given that they’re busy, the time between interviews can be as long as two weeks.
Why are employers pickier than they were when I was looking for work? The simple answer is to reduce mistakes. Besides getting egg on their face, hiring the wrong person can be extremely expensive. (A Forbes.com article states a “bad” hire can cost more than 30 percent of a person’s first year salary.)
You must be persistent when the job search is taking so long. Don’t give up on employers who are taking their time. Understand that they want to avoid mistakes. Stay in contact with your recruiters to see how the process is going (believe me, they’re just as anxious).
4. Ageism is a reality. Unfortunately, employers discriminate against age. I tell my workshop attendees that a few employers, not all, will practice ageism. Nonetheless, it’s wrong and can’t be defeated easily.
Older workers must be especially persistent and think about ways to get to the interview, one of which is writing résumés that don’t reveal their age. Then during the interview sell themselves as a benefit to the employer, not a disadvantage.
Smart employers will see that older workers want to work as much, or more, than people younger than them. Employers will realize that older workers are more mature and dependable, have extensive job experience, as well as life experience.
Your job is to dispel the stereotypes that exist for older workers, such as they expect too much money, are not as quick to learn, are set in their ways, will be sick more often, and will leave sooner than younger workers. These are all untrue.
5. Networking is necessary more than ever. Regardless of age, networking will be the key to your success. The old saying, “It’s not what you know or who you know, it’s who knows you” is truer than ever.
One of my favorite job seekers wrote to me about another job seeker’s Happy Landing. She wrote: “[Landing her job] was completely through networking; she has not even met her hiring manager yet. One person’s word and recommendation was enough!“
Of course networking involves more than relying on your reputation to land a job. You need to be more persistent than I was during my unemployment. To say networking is the name of the game is an understatement.
It’s believed that your chances of landing a job are 60%-80% by employing networking. Of course other methods of job seeking must be used to supplement your networking. And networking doesn’t have to be confined to networking events; you must persistently network on a daily basis, throughout the community.
6. Don’t forget to following up. Perhaps the biggest failure in the job search is not following up with potential valuable contacts. I hear it all the time; someone meets a potential contact at a networking event, or in the community, and doesn’t follow-up; thereby loosing out on a huge opportunity.
You must be persistent in following up. I say to my workshop attendees, “Why waste all the hard work you do while networking, submitting your written communications, and networking by not following up?” It doesn’t make sense.
Remember that your job isn’t done after the first or even second contact. It’s done when you get a number of yeses. Yes, the person you met at a networking event will meet you for coffee. Yes, after coffee they will agree to deliver your résumé to the hiring manager. Yes, it leads to an interview. And yes, you’ve been accepted for the position after five interviews. These yeses only come by following up.
If this isn’t persistence, what is?
The saying that anything worth having takes hard work is about being persistent. It’s about not giving up. It’s about getting to yes. I can think of other words which begin with “P” that are important to the job search, but persistence always comes to mind.
It goes without saying that in 2020 the economy has taken a huge whack with more than 16 million workers losing their jobs, according to the Department of Labor. This has become the number one reason for persistence in the job search. This article was written three years ago when there were 7.2 million US people out of work, so the economy wasn’t a huge consideration. Now it is.