The job search is a grueling process. You pour hours into applications and never hear back. You go through rounds of interviews that lead nowhere.
Looking for a job is both frustrating and disappointing at a bare minimum. It leaves smart, accomplished professionals feeling “less than.” It leaves them wondering, “What’s wrong with me?” Too old? Too young? Wrong college degree?
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Today’s job seeker is frustrated and fed up. But what if it weren’t your fault? What if the reason you weren’t getting calls had less to do with you and more to do with the process itself?
Hear me out.
The standard line almost every company gives is, “Apply online. If you’re a good fit, we’ll call you.” Even at job fairs, company representatives will often opt out of taking your resume in person, instead asking you to apply online. This would lead one to believe that applying online is the best route to finding a job.
The problem is most people still find jobs the same way today that they did in 1990: through their network contacts. A hiring manager isn’t dying to hire a stranger off the internet. The online tracking systems companies use are still relatively new. I’m certain they will continue to improve over time, but as it stands now, many of these systems struggle to get the right candidates in front of hiring managers.
On top of this, company rules often dictate that every job must be posted online – even if the hiring manager already knows who they’re going to hire. I’ve seen this firsthand.
Years ago, I started working at a company as a contract employee. I was brought in as a contractor so that I could start right away, and then I was hired permanently a few months later. Before I was hired, though, my job was posted online as a vacancy. It was the same job I’d been doing every day for months. It was the same job that I already had official business cards for. If anyone had applied or interviewed for the job, they may never have known why they weren’t hired.
So, how do we address the frustration and disappointment of the job search? There’s no single straightforward answer, but one thing is for certain: The reason you weren’t hired could have little to do with you and more to do with the company’s process.
My best advice is this: Try not to take the job search personally. Go through interviews and take the opportunity to get to know the hiring manager. The more well-connected you are before you apply, the more likely you will be chosen next time around.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Memphis Daily News.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.