Whether new to the act or it’s simply been a while, most everyone who works with me as a Career Coach asks me what are the keys to success in the job search. The truth is there is no one secret, it’s a balance of everything: networking, applying, studying… What works for one person (like networking) doesn’t necessarily work for others for consistent job search traction. What I have noticed is that there are three qualities successful job seekers display or are prepared to display by the time the offer hits their inbox: persistence, resilience, and confidence.
To persist in a job search means that you, like the legs of the Road Runner when escaping Wile E Coyote, never stop moving. If a job is put on hold you keep going; while you’re waiting for the offer paperwork, you keep going; if and when the going gets tough you keep going. Why? Because you don’t get anywhere standing still.
I have seen offers come in after a quick search, making the process anti-climactic for the seeker, who then wonders what else is out there. I have also seen it when the search has been a long slog of misery so the resulting offer has you feeling like Aaron Rodgers on Draft Day: determined to show everyone who passed on you that you are in fact the rising star you promised you would be.
In fact, I recommend that until you have turned in a signed offer, your job search continues. Then, once you’ve submitted all the paper work and got your start date, you can turn your attention to networking, studying, and applying what you’ve learned to reach the next level of your skill set. This continued movement is not just called change, it’s called career development, and it’s what takes a job and makes it a career.
Being resilient means you’re like Chumbawamba, when you get knocked down you get up again. No one or nothing should keep you down. There are all kinds of rejection in a job search from the blatant words saying “you’re not a fit,” to the passive recommendation that they keep your resume on file for future opportunities. For a true, active, full-time job search there is enough rejection that it can lead to doubt, grief, and even be debilitating if you let it. Rejection should never stop you. Not in a job search.
It is true that not every door you come to will open because not every opportunity is for you. Part of the job search is also timing and fit. When a need is identified a role is open, and how you will fit together with the team (or lack of team) that’s already in place matters. When you find your door and it opens, even after all the sweat, tears, and certainty that went into your job search, you will know that this is either the next step you have been searching for or everything you’ve needed all rolled into one offer.
Confidence is the certainty you have in yourself or in the direction you’re headed. It is the boldness that has you, in your own way, saying “you will give me a chance and I will get this job done for you.” Confidence is also the humility of knowing you can and will also learn what needs to be learned in order to get the job done.
This feeling of certainty, or assuredness, can come out of ‘faking it until you feel it,’ having one or many eye-opening sessions with your career coach or advisor, or it can even come from the momentum of the search when silence is broken and you are trying to juggle different levels of interviews…and study…and apply…only to find one offer rolls in and you know others are on their way.
Confidence comes because you have been through stuff and you know no matter what happens you will rise up and persist. It is not a time of cockiness and it does not come from the quiet isolation where you try to learn and know everything before you step out in the direction of your dreams. You don’t shy away from job descriptions because of one or two words, conversations that will help you understand if you’re ready, or companies you dream of because you can’t figure out how to write the cover letter. Confidence is a time of deliberate and purposeful action toward your dream job.
So you see, there is no one thing that will guarantee a pot of gold at the end of your job search rainbow. It is an investment. An evolution. It is a mix of a lot of things that makes it its own job. What you can be sure of is that when it’s all over and you have come out on the other side, you will be better, stronger, and wiser for it.
It should be a celebration not just about getting the job offer, but in taking a step toward becoming the professional you’re meant to be and living your dream.