How To Troubleshoot Your Job Search Problems

How To Troubleshoot Your Job Search Problems
A job search can feel like a lonely process. It’s definitely not a group activity; and you can’t be very breath taking at a party when you discuss how many applications you've sent. It’s even tougher when you aren’t getting the results you expect and you don’t really know what to do to solve your problem. You also have few people to tap into to help you figure out what’s gone wrong. Solving this problem is more than simply updating your resume again, which isn’t really targeting your actions toward a solution. In order to truly take action that will matter, you have to look at job search as the process it is. As with all processes, it has some inherent characteristics which most job seekers don’t realize. The primary characteristic is it’s a numbers game and every job seeker needs to be tracking their activities to know where the break down in the process is taking place. Once you can see where the break down occurs, you can develop a targeted, well thought out corrective action. Think of this like a car manufacturing assembly line. If the fourth step in the process is observing scratches on the car, you know it has to be taking place after the chassis is put on and before step four. That allows you to go directly to those steps to see what the problem is. Let me demonstrate this in real job search terms. In order to get one job offer, you need about nine interviews. As with all averages, that number is high for some and low for others. For example, sales positions usually require fewer interviews and administrative jobs require more. Sales positions are harder to fill, so when job seekers get to an interview, they will most likely get an offer. It’s supply and demand. Let’s say you’ve interviewed 12 times and have yet to receive an interview. Unless people for your type of job grow on trees, you have a problem in the interview. It has nothing to do with your resume. It also has nothing to do with your job search methods because it’s clearly yielding you interview invitations. Knowing this allows you to target your solutions to the dynamic around the interview. Let me give you a set of targets to keep your eye on and possible solutions if you go “out of range” for the target:


  • Target: 3 offers to get 1 acceptable offer.
  • Problem Threshold: Maximum 5.
  • Possible Solutions:
    • Reevaluate your salary expectations; they may be off for the market and position you are pursuing.
    • Rethink the positions/jobs you are pursuing; they may be wrong for you.

Interviews To Yield An Offer

  • Target: 9 interviews to yield 1 offer.
  • Problem Threshold: Maximum 12.
  • Possible Solutions:
    • Practice interviewing skills; you may not be answering the questions well.
    • Reevaluate how you present your assets. Answer the question: “Why You?”
    • Check your attitude and behavior; you may not be coming across as “like-able”/connecting with the decision makers.
    • Check your appearance; dress for success.
    • There is a mismatch in your qualifications that wasn’t detected until interviewing (i.e. “resume drift”).

High-Quality Contacts To Yield An Interview

  • Target: This can vary, but you should target 5; then track your results and adjust.
  • Problem Threshold: No more than 8.
  • Possible Solutions:
    • Practice presenting yourself; you aren't presenting yourself or direction well.
    • The contacts aren't that high quality or qualified; they may not able to extend an interview invitation or aren’t in the sphere of influence to the ultimate decision maker.
    • Be clear with your network; you may have been unclear about the type of person to whom you want to be introduced.
You might notice you are creating a pyramid of activity:
  • Job you desire = 1
  • Offers to get that job = 3
  • Interviews to get 3 offers = 27
  • High-quality contacts to get 27 interviews = 216
I hope this puts the picture of your job search into a clearer view. It is a numbers game for you just like it is for the businesses. Larger companies track these same types of statistics so they can troubleshoot their hiring process in a similar fashion. Obviously, they track different things, but for them it still all leads to that job offer which someone will accept. Your job search is personal, but it’s still a process. Like all processes, you have to understand each of the working parts and how each part is likely to break down. Then, if you’re paying attention to your process, you can adjust the part that isn’t working. You will be in greater control and feel much more confident with all your job search efforts. Photo Credit: Shutterstock