How to troubleshoot your job search.

Troubleshooting your job search is the number one most critical action item for each week. No one is likely to tell you what you are doing wrong and even if they did, it doesn’t mean that their advice will help you. What might help with one company, business, or organization, doesn’t guarantee that it will work with others.

Accurately troubleshooting your job search will reduce your time to employment.

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There are just three basic steps:

  1. Interest leads to inquiries.
  2. Inquiries lead to interviews.
  3. Interviews lead to job offers.

It doesn’t start with your résumé anymore.
The Internet, social media, crowdsourcing, and business media have changed the way that hiring professionals approach potential candidates.

One look at a LinkedIn Profile can quickly eliminate someone from consideration. Jobseekers who overlook this key tool in their professional toolbox do so at their own peril.


Similarly, a quick Internet search can also be revealing. This is a challenge because even though YOU haven’t done anything disreputable, someone who shares your name may have a questionable public record. This is why LinkedIn is so important.

If you pass these initial filters then you may be asked for your résumé.

Even if your résumé is submitted from a trusted source, you will not likely bypass the preliminary online elimination process.

I suspect most job seekers know this: your cover letter and especially your résumé can make or break your chances of moving forward.

Today, hiring professionals expect a professionally written cover letter and résumé.

The economy has raised the stakes on getting a job. And with the vast number of applicants the hiring process has undergone tremendous change. An entire industry has evolved and the “do it yourself” method can extend your unemployment indefinitely.

Getting a job is no longer a “do it yourself” activity.

The Cover Letter and Resume Challenge:
Your cover letter and resume has multiple audiences. Each audience has different needs.
Here is our list:

  1. The Applicant Tracking System (ATS). There is much more to this than keywords. The new systems for 2014 include contextual sophistication.
  2. The Human Resource Professional – first round: 8 seconds. Hiring professionals want to know if you qualify for the job. That’s their first need. They expect to find this information in eight seconds.
  3. A screening call – usually an HR Assistant: 15 minutes. This person has 4 or 5 questions which focus on whether you qualify for the job or not. This is a clear indicator that your résumé may have passed the ATS filtering, but your qualifications for the specific job was unclear or hard to find.
  4. The Human Resource Professional – second round: 30 seconds. This is the core competency test.
  5. Manager(s): Two or three minutes. Managers need details to two questions:
    1. Does the person have the needed skills?
    2. How long it will take for them to ramp up and become productive?
  6. Final approver: Five minutes. This one amazes me. The final approver may spend more time with your résumé than anyone else in the process (other than yourself). You may never meet this person. But before the money is allocated for your position, s/he wants to know you will represent the company well, that your credentials are in place, and that you have been carefully vetted out.

Your cover letter and résumé has to handle each one of these inquiries.


Once again, different people need different information:

  1. Human Resource professionals want to know that you will like the job, fit in, and that your presence will encourage a positive working environment.

    Recruiters want to know this as well, but they also have additional concerns. They want to be sure that you will represent them well and build loyalty between their company and their clients.

  2. Managers are looking for a good fit between you and their team. They want to confirm that you can do the job, that you are easy to communicate with and that your time to productivity will be reasonably short.
  3. Senior Executives want to ensure they will be comfortable with you and can communicate openly with you. They want to know there will be no unpleasant surprises. These interactions may take only a few moments and be a brief encounter. If you will interact with them on a regular basis, it could be a full-fledged interview.

The number one insider job search secret:
Every step in the process has to bring one cohesive and consistent message to the hiring professional.

That’s it. It’s about communication.

It’s the small inconsistencies and not just the glaring issues that cause hiring professionals to look elsewhere.

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How to troubleshoot your job search:
Here are 10 steps to troubleshooting your job search.

10. Job Acceptance
9. Negotiation
8. Job Offer
7. Final approver sign-off.
6. Face-to-face with hiring manager(s)
5. Face-to-face interview with HR.
4. Phone interview with HR.
3. Screening call from HR Assistant.
2. Cover letter and résumé gets through the ATS filters.
1. Is your industry hiring?

Check out step one: Is your industry hiring? This question is vital to your search. If the answer is no, then it may be time to check into your transferrable skills.

If you haven’t moved up this ladder, then the right information has not been communicated. So if you are getting phone interviews and haven’t moved to the face-to-face step, then something “critical” isn’t being communicated in those phone interviews.

Next week I’m going to discuss each of the elements in this blog one-by-one.

Again: managing the process is no longer a “do-it-yourself” option. Find professional help that will reduce your time to employment.

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