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Let Me Count the Ways

A job search is a process. It’s comprised of several demanding criteria – all of which must be working in unison with one another at the highest degree of proficiency possible.

If that sounds like a tall order, you’re right. It is.

And all of those job-search components – networking, resume writing, interviewing, dealing with ATS – all have their own respective successes, pitfalls and shortcomings. Despite their differences they all share certain things in common.

Perhaps the most important trait that they all share is something that the job seeker has little, if any, control over. If you study the process at all, you’ll discover that at every step of the way the people with whom you’re dealing are looking for any excuse to eliminate you from consideration for their job opening.

Although it may sound a little backward or self-defeating, that’s what they’re doing. Whether it’s making a bad first impression or failing to follow up, any of those things can scratch your name off their list of candidates.

Some people think of job seeking as a game, and in this respect they may have something. When you look at most athletic contests, it’s the negative things – or mistakes – that determine the outcome. In football, it may be a fumble, an interception, a critical penalty, or a missed kick. In baseball, maybe it’s a timely strike out, or a pitcher throwing a home run pitch, or a shortstop making a costly error. In basketball, a missed shot, a missed free throw, or an untimely foul can all be game changers. Any of those things can lead to defeat.

In sports, eliminating mistakes can lead to victory. The same is true in a job search. Being on time for an interview, doing your homework prior to an interview, following up after an interview are all crucial. A well organized, error-free resume will keep you in the running. Well documented, results-producing anecdotes from past jobs will only enhance your chances.

Let’s face it. It’s part of the job of the recruiter or hiring manager to find reason(s) to eliminate you. When faced with a stack of resumes or applications, the first thing that the hiring manager will do is to discard the obvious candidates who don’t qualify. And every step of the way, they continue to do the same thing – except the reasons to exclude become more difficult and nuanced as the process moves forward.

In the end, it’s up to you to not give that hiring manager a reason to eliminate you.


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