My ride to New York City from Boston on our version of “high speed rail” (aka: Acela) got me thinking about career moves and job searches…especially the moment when we hit some sort of bump and my laptop did a mini-bounce.
Here’s the deal…Job searches are not smooth, fast-moving processes. There are bumps in the road; there are delays along the way.
I’ve had a couple of conversations recently with students at Curry College, where I teach undergraduate communication…primarily public relations…courses, and at Regis College, where I teach graduate communications courses, about their job searches.
In all instances, students questioned the perceived length of their searches and the process, wondering if this was “normal.”
My response in all cases was, “Sadly, yes.”
This isn’t to say that all job searches are going to take two-and-a-half lifetimes. But the fact of the matter is, they’re going to take time.
Why? A number of reasons, starting with the increasing caution that hiring managers are taking when reviewing candidates’ resumes and support materials.
Unless you’ve been living under a giant mushroom for the past couple of years, you’re well aware that the economy is just now slowly creeping up out of the sewer. Many companies’ budgets have been trimmed…not down to the bone…down to the marrow inside the bone!
As a result, they’re being extra diligent about vetting applicants before getting into the review/interview process. Which includes checking out your activities on the various social media platforms like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
What this does for hiring managers is allow them to speed up the process on their end by either identifying or eliminating applicants and bringing in just those who pass the “smell test.” (This, by the way, means “Does what you say in your resume/cover letter match up with what you ‘say’ online, etc.? Does my ‘gut’ tell me you might be right for the position I’m trying to fill?”)
All this takes time for both of us…but it saves time in the long run for me, the hiring manager.
So what should you do to monitor the process?
You wait…impatiently…for a week or so (this really depends on the method by which you applied, the size of the company, the bureaucracy of the company, and a number of other factors) and then follow up via phone or email.
“Wait! Whoa, Kirk!!” you shout frantically. “Who do I follow up with??”
Here comes another “depends.”
If, in your Sherlock Holmes-ian sleuthing into the company's information, you came up with the actual name of the hiring manager (the individual directly responsible for filling the position you’ve applied for), that’s who you follow up with. Otherwise, you go with the Human Resources or whichever department you sent your stuff to.
I, for one, am impressed when a would-be candidate goes online or elsewhere and figures out that I’m the dude he or she needs to know. I’m a PR guy, though, and a big part of effective public relations centers on conducting research to learn as much about the situation as possible. Other people may have different views on this, but you can’t know this upfront, so be proactive but not creepy-stalky.
Having gone through all this exercise (and a job search is a mental and spiritual workout), be prepared for the bumps in the road.
I once conducted my own search for a job in a similarly bleaah economy only to be told, after having gone through the first round of interviews for a job that I really wanted, that the position for which I was applying had been “put on hold” and wasn’t going to be filled in the foreseeable future. (More like hitting a brick wall than a bump in the road!)
So there you have it. You’ve read all this and are now filled with immeasurable hope and confidence as you prepare for or continue your job search.
Here’s the takeaway.
Your cover letter and resume are pristine. You’ve made an irrefutable case for why you should be one of the chosen few called in for an interview. You’ve followed up to show that you truly are interested in this opportunity and aren’t just “dialing for dollars.”
It’s out of your hands, now. If everything matches up (your qualifications vs. their needs), you probably will be called for an interview. But there is no guarantee, and anyone who says otherwise needs to do a serious reality check.
You have to have confidence in yourself and your abilities, and you have to believe that there is the “right” opportunity waiting for you. It’s a bumpy road, but others have traveled it successfully, and so will you!
“But in front of excellence the immortal gods have put sweat, and long and steep is the way to it, and rough at first. But when you come to the top, then it is easy, even though it is hard.” Hesiod, “Work and Days”