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Whenever I work with a new client, I always ask questions about how far they are in the job search.  This can mean two things: 

1.  Where are you in terms of you for the overall job search?   

Do you know what job you want? 
Have you updated your resume?
Have you starting applying for jobs?

2. If you’ve been actively searching for a while, how far have you gotten?

Are recruiters reaching out?
Have you gotten many interviews?
How many job offers have you had?

Where are you in the overall job search?

The four steps are:

1. Have the right mindset
2. Target specific jobs
3. Update your resume and personal brand
4. Interview and get the job

It’s interesting because most of my clients want to work on updating the resume (step 3) right away and skip the mindset (step 1) and job targeting (step 2).  Working on your resume is tangible.  It makes you feel productive.  When you’re done, you have a shiny new resume to show off.  It’s the thing people understand they need to do.  Want a new job?  Of course, go update your resume!  Unfortunately, that ends up wasting a bunch of time and starts a vicious cycle of rejection.

Before you do anything related to finding a new job, ask yourself, do you really want this change?  Do you have the right mindset?  It’s funny when people ask me for help with career coaching.  Then in the same conversation, they’ll tell me that they’re not really sure they want to change jobs.  That’s ok!  I’m not here to convince you to change jobs.  I’m not here to force this on you.

Job searching is hard work!  There’s a ton of activities like resume writing and contacting recruiters.  If you’re not in the right mindset to embark on this job search journey, then don’t waste your time.  If you go into the job search half-heartedly, someone else who is hungrier and more motivated is going to snatch that opportunity out from under you.

Recently, someone told me their friend wanted a job but kept getting offered low paying manual labor work.  This was a well qualified candidate with solid education and work experience.  There’s nothing wrong with manual labor but it wasn’t the right fit (or pay) for what she wanted and deserved.  

I asked, what kind of work does your friend want?  The answer was, it didn’t matter, the friend just wanted a job to pay bills and feed her children.  Well, of course she wasn’t getting good offers.  She wasn’t clear in what she wanted.  In return, she was offered the lowest paying unskilled work.  

Without targeting specific jobs, you’re getting going to get exactly what you want… nothing!  In my 3 Day Resume course, I give the analogy that when you don’t have a targeted job title, it’s like getting in your car to drive around with no end destination.  Sure, you can drive around all day but you’re just getting nowhere fast and wasting a bunch of gas in the process.

What if you’re actively searching and you keep getting stuck?

Let’s say you’ve got the right mindset (step 1) and you know exactly what job(s) you’re after (step 2).  So now you’re on the sending resumes (step 3) and interviewing stages (step 4).  Based on where you’re getting stuck, it will help identify where you need to adjust.

Where are you stuck in the job search? by Coach Caroleen

1. You’re submitting resumes but not getting responses.

This is the great black hole where resumes go to die.  Don’t let your resume get stuck in it.  You know how easy it is to click the Apply button on LinkedIn?  Well, if it’s easy for you, it’s easy for everybody else just the same.  Companies are getting flooded with hundreds of resumes online.  Yes, the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a real thing and over 98% of Fortune 500 companies use them according to research.

If you find yourself submitting countless resumes and not getting responses, then chances are your resume isn’t getting past the ATS.  Either your resume doesn’t resemble the job description enough for the ATS to pass your resume through or if it is getting to an actual human (gasp!) recruiter, then it’s not compelling enough for the recruiter to contact you.

How to get unstuck:  Time to overhaul the resume.  Write a more effective and targeted resume beefed up with keywords.  But remember that ultimately, a recruiter (and hopefully hiring manager) will see this resume too. Make it both ATS and human friendly.  Not sure where to start?  I have a quick 3 Day Resume course that can be completed in three short after work sessions (or you can do it all at once!).

2. You can’t get past the recruiter.

The good news is if recruiters are calling you, then at least your resume is in good enough shape for recruiters to notice.  When applying online, the ATS is the first gatekeeper and the recruiter is the second gatekeeper.  Congrats on getting past the ATS!

The recruiters job is to screen the candidates and put the best of the best in front of the hiring manager.  The recruiter doesn’t work for you.  The recruiter doesn’t serve you.  The recruiter’s loyalty is with their client which is the company doing the hiring.

It’s in the recruiter’s best interest to bring the most qualified candidates to the table which reflects well on them.  If you’re interacting with recruiters but can’t get past them, the recruiter doesn’t think you stand a good enough chance of getting hired.  If you can’t get hired, the recruiter can’t get paid!  If it’s an in-house recruiter and not commission-based, if they keep bringing bad candidates that don’t perform well, this reflects poorly on them.

How to get unstuck:  Time to adjust your personal story when talking with recruiters.  Are you sharing a positive, curated, and relevant version of your story?  Are you shining the spotlight on what value you can bring to the role, the team, and employer?  Are you making it clear why you’re a great fit for the job at hand?  Or are you focusing on your perceived deficits and why you’re not good enough?  Remember that talking to a recruiter is a mini-interview. 

3. Recruiters are submitting your resume but you aren’t getting the interview.

Hooray!  Your resume is good enough to pass the ATS and your story is compelling enough for a recruiter to submit your resume to the hiring manager.  But wait?  Why aren’t you getting any interviews?

Although it’s the recruiter’s job to initially screen the candidates, the hiring manager usually does another pass of your resume before taking the time to interview.  If you’ve never been a hiring manager, let me share that it’s very time consuming and nerve wracking.

Put yourself in their shoes.  Chances are the hiring manager is growing his/her team because they’ve got too much work to do!  Now they’ve got to spend precious time interviewing strangers.  Chances are the candidate will be nervous (totally normal!) and usually, only one person can get the job.  Even if there are multiple job openings, it just means more people have to get interviewed.  This is why hiring managers are even pickier with who they invite to interview.

The recruiter’s job is to screen the candidates and put the best of the best in front of the hiring manager.  The recruiter doesn’t work for you.  The recruiter doesn’t serve you.  The recruiter’s loyalty is with their client which is the company doing the hiring.

If you keep getting submitted for jobs by the recruiter but not getting the interview, a few things could be happening here.

*  The hiring manager didn’t find your resume compelling enough to invite for an interview.  Maybe they were looking for a certain skill set or profile that you don’t match.
* The recruiter may have passed you through but other candidates were more highly recommended.  This is why it’s important to build a good rapport with the recruiter.  They can function as your advocate internally with the hiring manager if they think you have a good chance of closing the deal (so they can get paid!).
* Aliens landed on earth.  There was a large EMF bang.  Or something totally unrelated like the job req was pulled and the opportunity was gone. Or they were planning on hiring an internal candidate the whole time.  Yes, sometimes things happen beyond our control but this can’t be the reason 100% of the time. 

How to get unstuck:  Time to improve the resume and personal story (again!).  Whaaaaat?  I know.  Didn’t I just tell you that in the previous step that your resume was good enough to get noticed and your personal story was compelling enough for the recruiter?  It’s true.  Your resume was good enough to get past the first gatekeeper, the ATS, and the second gatekeeper, the recruiter.  Unfortunately, it didn’t pass the muster with the hiring manager. 

If you keep getting this far and keep stalling out, it’s time to crank up the resume and improve the story.  If the recruiter is receptive, try to get feedback on why you were passed over for the interview.

4. You’re getting interviews but no job offers.

We’re almost there!  The finish line is so close that you can see it.  If you find yourself getting interviews with the hiring manager(s) but not getting the job offer, something is going sideways with the interview.  Are you really putting in the time and effort to prepare before each interview?

The STAR method of interviewing is a common way to prepare scenarios and answer behavioral interview questions:

Situation – What’s happening?
Task – What was your responsibility?
Action – What did you do? 
Result – What did you achieve? 

I recommend that my clients have at least three scenarios that they can recite easily using the STAR method.  Then they can adapt these STAR stories to answer most behavioral questions like:

* Describe a time where you were had a project fail?  How did you handle and overcome it?
* Describe your biggest challenge at a job, why, and how you overcame it?

Now, there are times when your interviewing ability had nothing to do with the outcome.  Stuff happens in the background that we can’t see like:

* They were planning on hiring an internal candidate the whole time and your interview was to fulfill a quota. 
* COVID happens!  Think hiring freezes during times of economic uncertainty.
* Just like before, maybe aliens landed on earth.  Or something totally unrelated like the job req was pulled due to budgetary constraints.   

Sure, you may have a few interviews and not get the job for unrelated reasons.  If you find yourself  interviewing repeatedly without getting the offer, then take a long hard look at your interview prep and practice.  Practice out loud and have three STAR scenarios ready to go for any behavioral interview questions.  Get your interview in good shape and you’ll be crossing that finish line in no time!

How to get unstuck:  Prep way more than you think you need and practice out loud for the interview.  Researching on a company’s website and LinkedIn is easy peasy.  Sitting down with a friend to do a mock interview is horribly uncomfortable.  If you feel nervous and stumble over your words with a friend, guess how you’ll do in an interview during the real deal?  Chances are, it will be worse.


If you find yourself stuck in the job search, identify where you are will help you figure out how to get unstuck.  First identify where you are in the overall job search.  Are you really ready for steps 3 and 4?

1. Have the right mindset
2. Target specific jobs
3. Update your resume and personal brand
4. Interview and get the job

If you’re on steps 3 and 4, notice where you keep you getting stuck repeatedly and adjust as needed.

1. You’re submitting resumes but not getting responses.  
Get unstuck by overhauling your resume.  Write a more effective and targeted resume beefed up with keywords.
2. You can’t get past the recruiters.  
Get unstuck by improving your personal story.  Are you sharing a positive, curated, and relevant version of your story?
3. Recruiters are submitting your resume but you aren’t getting the interview.  
Get unstuck by improving the resume and personal story (again!).
4. You’re getting interviews but no job offers. 
Get unstuck by prepping way more than you think you need and practicing out loud for the interview.  

And of course, if you can’t seem to get unstuck, you may be a good candidate for personal career coaching.  Schedule a complimentary consultation with me to see if this is a good step to move your job search along.

Ready to land your dream role making more money to level up your career in tech? Find clarity with a personal Career Strategy Session.