Whenever I get together with friends, the topic seems to turn to job and career. Over wine the other night, my friends Lars and Grace were sharing tales of their job searches. Lars has been out of work 11 months. Our evening out was a celebration for Grace who just wrapped up a brief job search, accepting an offer for a new position.
We asked Lars about an interesting job he had noticed. “I applied, but I didn’t hear anything. I never hear anything back,” he said bitterly. We asked if he followed up and he said he did but, “It’s like a black hole. You send out resumes and hear nothing.”
“That’s weird,” Grace said. “I never had that happen! I pretty much always heard back.” Two different job seekers with polar opposite experiences. As a job search specialist, I had to dig deeper. It turns out, Grace never applied anywhere without cultivating and using an insider connection. An avid follower of Jobfully, she took the advice on how to find connections to jobs to heart and located a connection every single time she applied. In fact, several of her leads came from connections. While Lars had applied for dozens of jobs with no success, Grace applied to only a handful, but heard back from all of them, received interview invitations from several, and was quickly hired.
“Easy for you,” Lars said. “You have a huge network.” I think Grace was a little offended by this remark because she doesn’t feel her job search was “easy.” It was work, but it was strategic work toward a goal. She came back with, “I have a big network because I focus very hard on growing and nurturing it.” She proclaims that growing her network was the focus of her job search and the key to her success. It allowed her to uncover interesting positions, increased the chances her resume would be noticed and spared her from the resume black hole that plagued Lars. “The solution to not hearing back,” declares Grace, “is networking.”
Action Items to Prevent the Black Hole
If you are stumped by not hearing back when you apply for jobs, here is a strategy to bring greater response:
- Set strong, attainable goals for growing your network
- Shift how you spend your job search time away from applying and toward networking
- Don’t just add people to your network, connect with them, nurture them so they are an active part of your job search
- Optimize use of your network at each step in the job search process
- Gain competency with a professional networking tool, such as LinkedIn, to help you locate connections to jobs.
As Grace will tell you, having a solid network and a connection to a job opportunity does not get you hired. But a connection can prevent your resume from falling into the black hole, and increase your chances of getting in front of a hiring manager where you can demonstrate you are right for the job.