"Rah-rah! Just be positive! You can do it. I did it. Look at me up here onstage, telling you that you should be positive, too. Just like me. You can do it."
OK, readers, that didn't work. Let's try this:
[See 22 ways to be a better boss.]
When you wake up tomorrow and smell the sweet aroma of coffee brewing and hear the clamor of the kids getting ready for school as the dog barks, and you notice the hot, sweaty stench of summer is fading fast as September begins, consider trying a new approach in your job search.
First, resolve to be a bit more thoughtful about it.
Then, spend more time than usual. Job searching is, like, your new job. Stats show that, on average, unemployed people actually spend less than 30 minutes a day job seeking. Why is this? I think it's two things: the frustration that comes with sending so many resumes and applications and having nothing to show for it; and the feeling that there are no job openings for the jobs that you want.
Think this through a bit. If you get frustrated because you never hear back from anything you send to employers, maybe something is wrong with this approach. It's possible that your resume is badly done or you have not done enough homework upfront to understand exactly what it is the employer needs from you. But let's skip the resume improvement for the time being and instead focus on the employer.
The employer will almost never tell you what they want from you. Most of the time, they don't know. They think it is someone that is in alignment with their job description. This is almost never true.
What they want, and this is key for you, is someone who can solve a problem that they are having so they are more productive, efficient and effective. They want you to contribute in a positive way to their business. The only way to discover this is to do research on the company.
If you have a sense that there might be a fit between you and this job opening, this is when the work starts. Take the attitude that you want to find out everything you can about the job, the hiring manager and the company. Your skill-set might not be the best now, but you will know more about this job opening than anyone else. This takes time. You need to read past articles, examine business journals, snoop around social media (hey, they will do this on you!), you might even want to read through some web forums, and find out where employees hang out so you can put together the fullest picture of the company and this job opening.
This might take you all morning. But at the end of this time, you will already be able to distinguish yourself from nearly every other applicant who simply hits "apply now" on the job description.
Once all this research is complete--see, it is like a job, isn't it?--you will be able to figure out how best to approach the hiring manager and what your message will be. More than likely, your standard resume does not look as good as it once did. With the information you now know, you can adjust your cover letter and resume.
Now the sales job begins. Yeah, yeah, I know you hate sales. Make no mistake, getting hired is a sales job. Good sales people use the exact same process to sell their product and service that you will now use to sell yourself.
Armed with more knowledge about the job than anyone else, and understanding that knowledge is the key to presenting yourself in a better manner, you can be positive that you will get more positive responses.
I am positive.
G. L. Hoffman is a serial entrepreneur and venture investor/operator/incubator/mentor. Two of his companies have traveled the entire success path from the garage to IPO. Currently, he is chairman of JobDig, which operates LinkUp, one of the fastest-growing job-search engines.. His blog can be found at WhatWouldDadSay.com.