What to Do When Companies Aren’t Saying Yes

I would like to share a personal story with you. I remember a couple of really lean months after I started my business. My husband and I would sit down at the table and I would start to tick off all the things I had done to market my business properly. “I have done everything right. So what’s WRONG!?” I would exclaim.

The truth of the matter was, I hadn’t done anything wrong, per se; it just felt like that because I didn’t have the amount of clients that I had expected.

Interestingly enough, in all other ways I had succeeded in meeting all of my business goals and timelines. However, those achievements were overshadowed by the anxiety caused by not having a long line of clients waiting to work with me.

Turns out, after about 6 weeks (which felt more like forever), I had plenty of wonderful clients.

You would think as a job search coach, I would not fall into this trap! But when we are going through “the fire” it’s easy to panic and quickly lose perspective.

When you are in a job search, it’s not much different. There are highs and lows. Sometimes the phone never stops ringing; sometimes it may feel like all potential employers are purposefully avoiding you. Inevitably one wonders, “What have I done wrong?” No doubt, it can be a confusing time. So here are some tips that will provide you with a very helpful dose of reality.

Tip #1: Expect the peaks and valleys.

It’s true: every job search or career transition has its peaks and valleys. And yes, it’s uncomfortable.

If you are experiencing a dry spell in your job search, you need to look at a few things before you can accurately determine the cause. These include:

  • Is your resume powerful enough to get attention? Have you had it professionally written?
  • Do you have a plan to focus on a particular industry and position? Does that plan include strategies that you are implementing?
  • Have you investigated the health of the industry you are targeting? Is it in a growth mode or is it shrinking?
  • Do you know how to tap into the unadvertised job market? And if so, have you been using those strategies consistently and persistently?
  • Have you given your job search enough time? The average search in a good market can take 2 to 4 months for a mid-level professional and 6 to 12 months for a senior executive.

Tip #2: Get realistic about marketing figures.

Direct mail campaigns do the heavy lifting for you and I recommend them. They usually yield a 1% to 7% return.

Unadvertised job market strategies can take your positive responses up 20% to 60% in a good market and slightly less in a bad economy. Regardless, pursuing the unadvertised market beats out using large (major) job boards by a long shot. Large job boards are the toughest job market in which to compete. Period.

The bottom line: even when you do it right, most companies are not going to respond to you. I am not trying to be negative, but rather, demonstrate that it doesn’t mean you’re not good enough or not doing something right. Job searching is marketing. It’s a numbers game. The solution? Check your search against tip #1 and then increase your numbers.

Tip #3: Don’t get down on yourself.

There are loads of things you can do that can actually help emotionally, mentally and physically in a job search. A few of these include:

  • Use a coach to keep you motivated, make sure you are using the right techniques to leverage yourself in the market, and to keep you on track with setting and reaching your goals on a weekly basis.
  • Work (i.e. job search) and life balance are incredibly vital! Set several hours aside each day to work on your job search and write out what your main activity is for each day. Take the rest of the day off (yes you heard me right!) to rest, relax, be with your family, enjoy sports or other activities, work on continuing education, read or whatever else you like to do. This will keep you sane and balanced while you are waiting for your efforts to pay off.
  • Join a church group or a support group. The positive support helps. Just trust me on this one.
  • If you hit a dry spell, remind yourself that it’s not you and it’s not personal. Getting depressed and feeling desperate is not the vibe you want to be taking into your upcoming interviews.
  • Do what you have to do. One executive client I know took a part-time job in a grocery store while he was looking for a full-time executive position. He said that it helped him feel like he was still contributing monetarily to his family, and just getting out and working part-time kept his head clear.

The wise job seeker and career changer knows that dry spells in a job search don’t signal the end of a career as they know it. ???? They use the time to market even harder.

Remember that every marketing effort is an accomplishment in and of itself and does contribute to action, forward movement and future activity. By looking at the situation realistically, using techniques to boost your activity, and keeping your focus on what you want (not what you are afraid of), you will maximize your leverage and move consistently forward to the results you want.

Mary Elizabeth Bradford is the Founder and Executive Director of CEOresumewriter.com and Maryelizabethbradford.com and a past executive recruiter. A thought leader in the career services industry for over 20 years, she holds 5 distinct advanced certifications for senior-level resume writing, online branding and executive-level job search coaching (CERM, CMRW, CARW, MCD, NCOPE). She has been seen and heard in major media including Forbes, Time, WSJ, Newsweek and NBC affiliate stations. She holds 2 CDI TORI awards and is a top tier judge for the elite CDI TORI awards for four consecutive years. Mary Elizabeth Bradford’s elite team of award-winning, certified, top executive resume writers, former top executive recruiters, and global HR executives help many of the world’s premier C-suite, board members and thought leaders secure the transitions and compensation packages they want. She works with clients all over the globe.

If you are a Director, VP, CxO, or Board Member interested in an executive resume package or working directly with Mary Elizabeth, click to schedule a complimentary 15-minute call.