When to “Let it Go” in your Job Search

Searching for full-time jobs for the first time can be an overwhelming process. Not only is it time consuming, expensive, and emotionally draining, oftentimes the process itself feels like a mystery. If you haven’t worked full-time before it can be a very different experience than what you’re used to in college. Applying to jobs is like taking a course with no rubric… and you’re being graded on a curve. You can do everything “right,” but still find yourself at a loss for why you weren’t made an offer. The external reasons you are not getting offers could include: the employer is searching for qualities that weren’t included on the job posting, internal office dynamics, qualities of the other candidates, and a number of other factors you have no influence over.

Or it might be something within your control.

Ask yourself: Where are you getting stuck? Looking at how far you are getting into the application process can offer key insights into what you need to work on.

You aren’t getting any preliminary interviews:

  • Are your application materials employer-ready? Did you leave the wrong company name or details in your cover letter? Are their grammatical errors on your résumé? Come to the Center for Career Development for a walk in résumé or cover letter critique or call to schedule an appointment.
  • Do you have the skills the employers are searching for? Compare your application materials to the job posting and ask yourself if you are a strong candidate for the role. If yes, do your materials make this clear? If not, work with a Career Consultant on ways to expand your skillset for your field.
  • Do you know what you’re searching for? If you are sending out hundreds of generic applications to everything you find online, it might make sense to discuss restructuring your job search and find more effective strategies with a Career Consultant.

You aren’t getting any second round interviews:

  • Have you done a practice interview? Doing a Practice interview can help make sure you are articulating your strengths, following proper interview etiquette, and not making any interview faux pas. Schedule a practice interview.
  • Are you sending thank you notes? While some employers might let a missing thank you note or email slide, many companies place high value on following professional etiquette. Use our Résumé and Professional Writing Guide to help develop your thank you notes.

You aren’t getting an offer after multiple rounds of interviews:

  • Are you receiving strong references? Did you ask all of your professional references if they were willing to provide a positive reference? If you didn’t ask if they’d be positive, or worse didn’t let them know you were listing them in your application process, someone might be giving you a less than glowing review.
  • Are you following up? If you never received a “yes” or a “no” from the employer, it is a good idea to follow up with your contact to check where they are in the process and reiterate your interest.

You’ve followed the recommendations above without success:

  • Try meeting with a Career Consultant to discuss your unique challenges in your search. The Center for Career Development can provide advice on search and interviewing strategies as well as career counseling support.
  • Give yourself a break and “let go” of the employers you have not heard back from. If you are taking the time to ensure that you are being professional and well prepared in your search and it is still not working out, it could be factors beyond your control. Be gentle on yourself and find a strong support system. No one likes rejection, but recognize that it is not always about you. Have faith that if a company didn’t choose you after you did everything in your power to be a strong applicant, it might not have been the best fit for you in the long run. Believe in yourself.

By Emily Merritt
Emily Merritt Career Consultant, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences