Tried everything in your job search but not getting results? - What to do next!

career search failure job search managing career search no results tech leader power lunch Jan 25, 2021

Transcript of video:

Hey, everyone! 

Today's topic for the Tech Leader Power Lunch is, “What if you've tried everything in your job search and you're still not getting results? What should you do next?”


  • I'm going to give you a quick intro, in case we haven't met yet
  • I want to talk about what you're thinking about your results are so far,
  • and if you've tried everything, and then we're going to dive into a three-step audit.
  • Then we're going to talk about the next steps of what to do with your audit results.

If we haven't met yet, my name is Melisa Liberman. I am a former tech executive and I spend the bulk of my career building out a SAS software company to a quarter of a billion-dollar exit. And now my focus for the last nine years is as a career coach for tech leaders, helping them maximize and getting exactly what they want out of their career.

So, let's dive in. The first thing I want to ask you about and this is because I talk to so many of you, I talk to people every day about their job search specifically. And this is what I often hear what it starts out with.

The Search So Far Might Look Like This

How is the job search going? Well, I'm not getting any interviews, I'm doing a lot of applying or networking, and I'm not getting any interviews, or I'm getting interviews, but they're not going anywhere. I'm not getting offers. They tell me things like:

  • my resume is either professionally written or it's really good. That shouldn't be a problem.
  • My LinkedIn is excellent.
  • I'm finding the jobs and applying and I'm networking like I'm doing all the things right.

That's what I hear some form, or fashion of I'm doing all the things.

The first thing I would ask you is What are you telling you? So, we're not talking right now, right? This is a one-sided dialog, unfortunately. But um, tell me, you know, think about this for yourself. What are you telling yourself is the state of your current job search infrastructure? Is it some form of these four bullets? But then I hear I'm not getting interviews or offers. And that's why I assume you're on the call today. That's probably it's not happening for you either. And so then I asked them, Why not? And then it's some form of an answer. Like:

  • I'm pretty sure it's the economy. It's COVID.
  • It's the increased competition because of the economy or COVID.
  • It's my age.
  • It's my lack of fill in the blank. I don't have a degree I don't have the right skill set. My technology skills aren't as fresh as they used to be. I'm, I'm whatever fill in the blank. I don't have something. Or sometimes it's like I'm overqualified. I'm looking for these individual contributor roles and they think I'm overqualified - which usually goes back to age, right.

And if you’re doing all the things, what’s the solution? 

So, think about your search so far. And if you're telling if your internal talk track has any of these components to it, it can feel so out of control, you're not getting the interviews, you're not getting the offers you feel at the mercy of this crazy process that is incredibly frustrating at times, because you're not getting any feedback. And it feels like a dead end. And for many people, they think the solution is that they just need more time, they'll keep doing the same thing, keep improving a little bit as they go, I was talking to someone the other day, he was like, I'll just keep improving as I interview, I'm like, you want to use your interviews, as a way to improve like the real thing, the thing you work so hard to get, you're going to use that as a way to improve, I don't know if that's the best solution, right? more time, more effort, more energy, just it'll come together at some point. That's what they think that's the only solution is because of they think everything is in order. I'll say if you if you think everything is in order, and something outside of you, the economy, the way the process works, your age is is the only thing holding you back, then it feels like the only solution is giving it more time.

But today, I want to dive in and ask you a more productive question, which is,

Have you really tried everything?

And there's a reason why you haven't tried everything. So, let's just go through today and audit your process. There are three steps of this audit.

And from that, those categories and the audit, we're going to find your next step. I will say this - keep an open mind when I start asking you the questions. Don't just dismiss it and say, you know, I've got all of that I've got all of that. Guess what we know you don't have all of that because you aren't getting the results. I promise you. There are people getting job offers right now. I know them promise you that there are people older than you getting job offers. I promise you there are people living where you live that are getting job offers, like if there are people that don't have degrees that are getting the job offers you want, there are people getting the things you want. So, it's not those external factors that are holding you back. It's something in your job search that's holding you back. And that might sound really bad, right? What am I doing wrong, I don't want to be doing something wrong, none of us do, but at the end of the day, it's much better news that you're doing something wrong or missing something or could adjust something versus these things that you have no control over. So, with all that, please keep an open mind as I ask you these questions, the answers are only for you.

We're not judging anyone here, we're all doing the best that we can with such extreme circumstances on top of it right. So, let's dive into the audit.

Audit #1 – No Interviews

The first step of the audit is look at this process and say, am I getting interviews or not? If the answer is, I'm not getting interviews, or I'm not getting as many interviews as I think I should be or would want to be getting, then let's drill into these three categories and figure out why that might be.

We're going to look at each component of how you generate interviews effectively. And then we're going to rank those on a scale of one to 10. Then we're going to just ask why not? Why did you rank it that way?

Step 1: Uncovering Opportunities

Those look like:

  • networking,
  • finding openings online or word of mouth or recruiters and uncovering those opportunities that you can actually apply to. And the question here I have for you is, when you're thinking about those opportunities, a lot of times we think we look at an opportunity, it looks great, but we look at it and say I don't have those qualifications, so I'm going to dismiss it. So if you're doing that, consider that when you're ranking how well are you uncovering opportunities on a scale of one to 10
  • Similarly, are you overselling yourself? By that, I mean, maybe you've decided to take a step back, and only apply to individual contributor roles, because you're just feeling like you're too old or you're there, you're too expensive or whatever the things are that prevent you from applying. And so think about that as you rate yourself from one to 10am.
  • Underselling myself dismissing jobs out there? Am I finding the jobs? Am I really picky picking out jobs that really are way underneath my capability? So, give yourself a ranking of one to 10, and then answer why did you rank it that way? and jot this out.

Step 2: Are you making yourself known?

That's essentially the process step right, you find that opportunities, you make yourself known to the opportunities, and you set yourself apart? Those are basically the three if we boiled it all down? That's what it looks like. So, in terms of making yourself known - Are you doing things like:

  • directly contacting, making direct contact somehow someway? With the decision makers?
  • Are you getting referrals from people who know the decision makers or work with the decision makers? Or have some contact with the decision makers?
  • And are you using the application are you applying, but more as a formality versus kind of your main approach towards this process? So, ask yourself on a scale of one to 10, how well are you making yourself known?

Another way to ask this question is, are you making yourself known by following the process, which is, you know, the base process, apply online and hope that it goes through the applicant tracking system and somehow lands on the desk of someone who's reading it? Who underneath even understands what's being requested? Who then you can read that and get it in the hands of the hiring manager? Or in in a screen with you right? Are you doing that? Or are you taking more control of the process and making that direct contact, finding the referrals, even if you don't already know them? And taking more control of this process? How do you rank yourself on a scale of one to 10? And why did you rate yourself that way? Again, we're not here to judge ourselves. If you put down a three, there's no problem. It's just great information. Right? Wow, this is a three I'm hiding. And I'm going through the process, because I feel like I'm following the rules. And I should follow the rules.

That's not going to get you as far as fast as if you are taking these steps that I've gotten the in terms of directly contacting, getting referrals, that kind of thing. So why did you rank it as on the number you picked on a scale of one to 10? With no judgment?

Step 3: Are you differentiating yourself?

  • What does your elevator pitch look like?
  • What does your resume truly look like? Even if you had someone write it for you, I have to help my clients redo their resume, probably eight times out of 10, even if they've had a professional resume written for them?
  • How is your LinkedIn profile? A lot of times people tell me Oh, well, my resume is amazing. But I just haven't updated the LinkedIn profile to match it yet. What are you talking about? That's anyone can access that at any time? have you spent the time literally section by section by section on your LinkedIn profile? Do you have recommendations? Do you have people endorsing your skills? Have you filled out the about section? What is your headline look like? How's the picture?

And the thing I'll point out to you here is as you're thinking through this and deciding what your number is, and more importantly, why you gave yourself that number. Just notice your brain say me saying like, Oh, well this doesn't work for me or I can't find those referrals mostly just referenced or it's too much work. Like all of this process is so much work. I shouldn't have to do this much work. Or it's I've tried I've tried so much Melissa but it's not working. Well some of you, I am saying this with the most love, literally, you might have tried a bunch of things, you might have spent a lot of time. But if you're not getting the results, you just have to look in the mirror and be honest with yourself, that something you're doing is not working. something you're not doing is you should be doing. You tell me, I can't do that, or I shouldn't do that. Like, that's not going to get you where you want to be. 

So, let's take this up today and revisit your job search. Again, this isn't about judging what you've been doing up until this point, this is about how do we make it productive moving forward?

Audit #2 – Interviews but no offers

Some people are getting first level interviews, but not moving further down the path. Some people are getting all the way down the path, but not getting interviews, no problem. Let's just dig in and figure out why that could be.

Step 1: Are you offering value?

This isn't about did I give them the resume is looking really good. I'm answering all the questions very concisely and very articulately. That's not what this is about. This is about:

  • Do you understand the problem that you would be solving for this company, and why they would be paying you to solve the problem?

And a lot of times, I'm telling you, most people don't know the answer to this question. They know the answer to the question at a general level. Why does someone need a product manager? What is it someone need a project manager? What does someone need a strategic alliances? VP? Why does someone need a customer success VP,  they know at a high level why that function is needed.

But as a job seeker, what I find most of the time is they don't actually know the answer to why is this company hiring for this role? what problem are they trying to solve? And why are they paying ultimately for that function?

  • Next map, are you able to really map your qualifications to the problem in a very consistent, concise and clear way? So, in an interview setting, or in a cover letter, or in your resume that you're tailoring for an opportunity? How are you able to map your qualifications, your background, your skills, your experience, to explain to the to the person who's hiring you how you can solve how all of that toolkit tool set that you have, can solve their problem.
  • Are you expecting that you're just going to list all this stuff out on your resume on your LinkedIn profile, and they'll just figure it out? Most people are to be honest with you, right? They're like, Okay, I'm gonna put everything I've got on the paper. And hopefully, they'll see that I can do this job. First of all, that doesn't work. Because a lot of times HR is reading your resume. And most of the time HR doesn't understand at the level of granularity of what your skill set means in the business setting. Doesn't mean anything's wrong with HR, they just aren't doing the business, right. They're not doing that every day. And so, they don't necessarily understand how to make that connection. That's your job as a person selling yourself? 

Step 2: How are you positioning yourself?

How are you coming across in the interview process in the application process in the networking process? In the process of asking someone to refer you or give you leads? Are you coming across as:

  • collaborative and
  • knowledgeable and
  • confident?

Or are you coming across as like someone who's saying, you know, I've got everything like, please see me, please pick me. What is how are you coming across on a scale of one to 10? Again, no judgment.

Step 3: Establishing Connection

People honestly, a lot of times if you're especially if you're one of the last two candidates, they're going to hire the one they want to work most with. If it's someone who's hiring you, and you're going to work with directly with them. They're hiring you not only for your skill set, but do they think you're going to be someone who's easy to manage. Are you going to be a challenge for them who's constantly feeling like this person has made my life more difficult, worse? Is this person is making my life a lot easier? And that just comes from being a human from establishing rapport focusing on that, right? And it becomes kind of stressful in the interview process, like, Oh, no, I, I'm trying to answer all their questions, and I'm trying to help them see me and I'm trying to make a connection with them.

But if you just take a breath and say, you know, if I just as a human, how would I establish rapport with this person? What do we have in common? Why? Why would they like working with me? Why would I like working with them? Why would I like spending eight or 10, or how many hours a day with this person and make it easier for them to want to hire me versus Oh, that person has amazing skills, but I don't know if they're gonna fit in what well hear from a from a personality perspective.

And some of that comes from a couple of things that I see with my clients. Number one, again, a lot of times from a tech perspective, we're very process oriented. We're very methodical, we like to follow the rules. And so when we get into an interview process, we're following their rules, right? We're answering it, we're going into an interview, they're asking questions, we're answering them q&a, versus let me turn this into a conversation. How do I upfront make this conversational? So the person and you know, the person and I can really figure out if we have that rapport, if we have that connection? And then as you're going through the process, not judging yourself?

That definitely doesn't lead to connection that leads to distance, right? Oh, no, I'm not doing this, right, you're in your own head, and not able to establish that connection, or you're judging them, they should be paying more attention, they should be doing this better, they should be asking better questions, they should be giving me more time, like all of those things, those judgments of you or them prevent that connection, or that possible connection from occurring. So just notice it again.

We're not judging ourselves for this, it's just a number, what's your number, about ability to establish connection on a scale of one to 10. Notice your brain saying, Oh, I'm an introvert like this is I can't do this. So that's, we can't, we can't push forward and, and make the connection step of this process productive. If you're telling yourself some form of I can't do that. I'm a perfectionist, I'm better at working alone versus with people. I'm an introvert, like, whatever those labels are, isn't going to let you get to this place.

Step 4: What amount of sufficiency do you have as you approach this job search?

Are you thinking on a scale of one to 10? I'm exactly what they need. I can't wait to find that amazing connection that's perfect for me and a great company where I love the people and they love me, I've got exactly what I need, or are you thinking I don't have fill in the blank, or I have too much of fill in the blank or too little of fill in the blank. But I'm going to try anyway. Most people are in that second bucket. It's human nature. We're just trying to figure out what’s wrong with us. But we've got to get into that sufficiency.

Audit #3 – Thought Audit

The last area of this process is one that most people completely neglect. They try to power through it. But this is the basis of everything you're doing or you're not doing in your job search. And so the question here is going to be a little bit different than the first two steps of the audit. I'm going to ask you what percent you spent time in your time here versus a scale of one to 10.

But the question is, how much time essentially are you spending an unproductive thinking versus productive thinking? So, if you're thinking things like I don't have enough of this, or I don't, I'm missing that or I this is impossible, or this process is terrible or this, why they should be giving me feedback like all of these things that are unproductive. Tell yourself just answer how much I don't have enough.

How much of your time are you just letting that the top what code coaches call the toddler in your brain takeover? Again, is usually like, somewhere between 70 and 99%. So, you tell me, or you put down your number there? And then on the converse, what percent of your time? Are you spending productive thinking, thinking like, how is this working? How am I the perfect person for this role? Or the company or the manager or the team? How is my background exactly what they need? How can I find how can I uncover more interviews? How can I work around the applicant tracking system?

All right, and then we're going to move on to now we've done the audit.

What to do next?

  • Complete that three-step audit.
  • And then we're going to create your plan to address every area that's not a 10, or in the case of your productive versus unproductive thinking, we want the good chunk of your thinking to be in that productive bucket. So, just ask yourself fair questions very simply things like:
    • Where could I be wrong? And I want to tell you being wrong isn't bad, right? We're just trying to figure out where could my current thinking about how this process works, or how I'm working in the process, be wrong, be misguided be off to open up our brain to find the answers to new angles of approaching this?
    • Where can I find the opposite of these unproductive thoughts? If I'm thinking I'm too old, where's the opposite of that true? Who do I know that's older than I am that's doing the job that I'm doing? Who do I know that just got hired that’s the age that I am that's got the job that I want. Like all the evidence, finding all the evidence of things that you're thinking, I'm productively that could be the opposite, answering questions like
    • How can I? or
    • How will I? Or
    • what if I can do this? Or
    • if I need to?

One of my very, I'll leave you with the most favorite question in this section, which is, if I needed to land an interview tomorrow, like my life depended on it, I would be eaten by a shark. If I didn't have the interview tomorrow or this week, no matter what would I need to be thinking and feeling and doing in order to get that interview? I'm telling you if your life depended on it, and you needed a job, the answer to this question lights up a lot of angles you might not have thought of. And don't tell me it's not in your control. Because I know it's in your control. I've seen it with other clients in this environment. In the age you probably are, or around that age range who are getting interviews. So it is possible, I promise you. And then finally, figure out the productive thought that you want to redirect yourself to anytime you're falling into that unproductive bucket. One of my favorites is we're not doing that today. Like what my brain starts telling me this, this thing is wrong, or that thing isn't working or all that stuff is like not doing that today. So that is my hint for you if you need an answer for that question. So that is our, our process. If your job if you're looking for a job, you feel like you've tried everything. What should you do next? It's completing this audit process and figuring out for yourself, what's your next best move?

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