Why my job search failed (but I still ended up with a great job)Featured

Have you ever wondered just what it would take to get your foot in the door at your dream company? Me, too.

But when you’re job searching, sometimes it feels like you can’t get an intro at any company, much less your pie-in-the-sky ones. And in my experience, tapping into your personal network can create opportunities, but maybe not be the ones you aspire to find. Even if you’re not on the hunt for a job today, your dream companies are still out there. And when the time comes, it’s important to get your resume in front of the right people at those companies. Keep reading to see how Elpha (and this article) can help.

What do our social circles really do for us when it comes to job searching?

During my job search, I wished I could hit a “Reply All” button for the internet.

I couldn’t figure out how to get the right people, in the right roles, to see that I would make a great addition to their team. I tried to do all the things people say you should do - I reached out to the hiring managers or people in similar roles at the companies I targeted. I awkwardly reached out cold to people at my target companies in the hopes they could help. And I reconnected with people in my personal network who held roles like the ones I wanted, to ensure I was using the right words and demonstrating the right expertise.

And guess what: It didn’t work. 99% of the time, I didn’t hear back at all. If I did hear back, or even better, got an interview, the process almost always began with an intro from a personal friend or a professional connection that I had established IRL. And, ultimately, after aggressively job searching for months, I ended up with two job offers, BOTH of which came via personal intros. Which is obviously great but also pretty disheartening. Just because I don’t personally or professionally know someone at the companies I’d love to work for, doesn’t mean I wouldn’t make a great addition to their teams. So that’s a problem.

Figuring out the recipe for job-seeking success

So how can we find the people who can intro us, get us in early, or help us tailor our resumes to catch the eye of the people (and companies) whose attention we want most?

The first challenge of course is figuring out which areas of expertise to highlight on the all-important resume. Of course, there’s the idea that every resume should be tailored to the job, which I agree is important, but getting the foundation down on paper is surprisingly difficult.

When I sat down to write mine, I felt stumped. How could I accurately explain my personality, my expertise and the passion I bring to any position I hold? My unique mix of soft skills and a go-getter attitude that gets results? I would have loved to have had guidance from a tailor-made group of women in similar roles. Luckily, Elpha (and other networking communities) exist in part to facilitate just that.

Making your network…our network

Ultimately, our networks often do help us find what we need. People in my various circles have introduced me to prospective (and current) employers, volunteer opportunities, and even my partner. But when it was crucially important, I never did get intros to the companies I was most drawn to. I landed my current gig through a personal friend. Because I didn’t actually know anyone at my target companies! And I still don’t. So if/when I’m searching for a job again, I’ll just be right back where I started – trying to connect with people without an ‘in’.

And nowhere is that lack of a connection more relevant, or more frustrating, than during a job search. But luckily we live in a day and age where that’s getting easier to change. Elpha is an amazing place to create new professional connections, which you likely already know since you’re here reading this article. And I’m hoping that this post encourages and inspires those of you currently in the job market, or willing to help out job seekers, to engage with each other in a meaningful and impactful way.

Communities like Elpha are making job searching easier for women. By being here, we’re all contributing to that effort. I’m not a recruiter or an HR person, but I am a recent job seeker who is proactive, enthusiastic, loyal, and extremely passionate about making a positive impact at my job (and in life). I know I bring value to the teams I work with, and I know there are countless people here whose expertise, values, and personalities would be incredible assets for the teams they strive to join.

So, let’s have a virtual roundtable. Comment on this post if you’re a job seeker, someone who would like to help a job seeker or someone who’s hiring. Post what you’re working on or where you’re struggling to connect. Raise your hand to be connected with the people or companies you hope to impact this year, next year, or in 5 years. And if you’re ready to help, take this opportunity to provide warm intros if you can, review resumes or lend a sympathetic ear.

I’m grateful to be in this ‘together’ with you all. It makes me hopeful for job seekers to have a different experience than I had. If this post lands even ONE person an intro, interview or job offer from their dream company, it would be so humbling and amazing and inspiring. And maybe with a simple email or message *you* could be the connection between someone looking for a job and their dream role.

And in the meantime, reach out with questions or resume reviews or whatever else you need. I’d love to hear from you and pay it forward to any connections I can create, too.

@mayashaff this was such a great uplifting article and speaks to so many of my challenges as a current job seeker. I would love to raise my hand for help in case anyone would like to review my resume to see if there is anything I can do better and to provide any warm intros!! I am being very very specific about the companies I apply to - mission-driven companies who really make it clear that they are a people first organization and really care about their employees. Of course its so difficult to guarantee that this company is what they say their values are until you are in the thick of it but I try to do as much external research as possible to give me a better chance. Too many times have I walked into brutal cultural environments; environments that were sold to me as being the total opposite of what the reality was. To avoid this situation, I'm doing my very best to be careful. However, the exact problem you mention in this article, is what I am confronted with today. Most of the jobs I have landed have been through personal connections and most of them have not been the cultural environment I was looking for and it continues to carry through in my job search today where my contacts definitely produce leads but not the ones I am actually looking for. If anyone knows of a wonderful company or works at an amazing company (ideally a small startup <200) that truly walks the talk and provides a safe and inclusive environment for their employees, I would love to be considered. My master trade is in operations and as an operator, we are built to be incredibly versatile. I have 10+ years in operations, the first half being an EA for high-level executives in the finance and tech sector that laid the groundwork for my operational chops and the latter half taking operation roles in total rewards, banking/sales operations, and people ops in fintech and legal. We love to learn and adapt our skillset to any department or industry - it can be in customer ops, implementation, general biz ops, people ops, etc. I am passionately a people first person and love to seek out challenges and growth opportunities that encourage cross collaboration, liberal communication and transparency. One of my own personal values that I hold very closely is to treat everyone, no matter the circumstance or situation with kindness and respect. Thank you for listening!!
I'm so happy to hear this resonated with you @annalee0807! It's so hard to find the right company but it sounds like you have good criteria to find what you're looking for. While I'm not in Fintech/finance, I'd be happy to give you a marketer/recent job searcher's perspective on your resume! Feel free to send me a DM and we can connect.
@mayashaff This article hits the nail on the head for me, it tells exactly my story. I am raising my hand to ask if someone can review my resume. I recently applied to a company I pictures myself with and got rejected even though I ticked all the boxes for the person they are looking for. I politely asked the recruiter why I was not selected for an interview and she said the hiring manager didn't think I had relevant experience working for the same type of company. It was an entry-level role. It's disheartening when you know you are capable, you present it in the best way on your resume and still don't get a chance to interview. I'm not giving up, and I've finally changed my LinkedIn profile picture frame showing that I am OPEN TO WORK. I hope the right opportunity finds me.
It is SO disheartening @fazelayasin! Hoping that our fellow Elphas can help. And I'd be happy to review your resume too!
Thank you so much for this thread Maya!Personally I'm happy to connect any Elpha to anyone in my network -- always open to Linkedin adds even just for an intro to anyone else!The job search can be so brutal and I found what ended up being my dream company (I didn't even know they existed) via Elpha :)I also will help with cold outreach emails to people I don't know and strategizing on how to follow up -- sometimes it's just what you say that gets you in the door :)
Thanks Naomi! So happy you found your dream company here. And I'd love to connect with you or any other fellow Elphas on LinkedIn. I'm always happy to provide intros as well. My LinkedIn is
@naomi would love to take you up on your offer, just shot you a DM!
Happy to review CVs, strategize, connect with people in my network, or help in any other way!
Oh wonderful. If youre not too busy I'd love to send you my resume as well! I will PM you :]
@mayashaff thank you for this article...I would love to raise my hand for help in case anyone is willing to help me review my resume. I got a mail this morning from a job I applied to. I was really looking forward to interviewing for the role but the feedback from the hiring team said "they didn't feel like my profile match requirements for the role". It is sad knowing you are capable for the job but they can't see it.
Thanks for posting this! I am having the same experience - only getting in on people who personally introduce me. Iโ€™m also finding that however much I am a fit for the role, it depends on whether other people who are applying for the same position are a better fit or not.Iโ€™m a former business development manager in tech transitioning to software engineering (full stack) in tech and I would love if people have connections to help get the right role. Iโ€™m based in Boston and previously was in London. Definitely would 100% pay it back later on and also if anyone was interested in what I previously had worked on, happy to see where I can establish connections!
Thank you for this article! I am having such a struggle finding work. I had to take time to care for my Mom, partly due to Covid, and partly due to a mental health crisis that happened during Covid, leaving me as the only well person in my family trying to cope.Three times I have made the final round for a job I really wanted, only to be told some rather flimsy reasons the role went to someone else. I am probably doing something wrong, but seeing no actionable feedback, I am not sure how to correct it. I have done mock interviews and those folks have said they would hire me based on our mock interview. I am willing to prove myself (yet again) if I can get a contract. Twice hiring managers have reached out to me, and after 6-8 interviews, one team member blocked the decision (always a man, but that could be totally coincidental since software has such a male majority). I keep looking for work and applying for jobs I am qualified for. I am not sure how else to help myself move forward.
Yep. I've often found it annoying I have to be chummy with people I'm not interested in just to feed myself. I love writing narrative stories, and have integrated one into my cover letter (That's gotten replies!) - I'm happy to look at someone's cover letter and offer advice.
Great tip @MorganLucas!
OoOoo, this is a good one. I'm very interested in hearing more about your narrative stories, if you would be open to sharing a snippet or outline you follow
`You're reading this. Maybe you're a little confused at the narrative style, but you decide to keep going` [...] {Emphasis on how I'm self-taught}, Because you value go-getters, the folks flowing between independence and teamwork, who need some support, but can stand on their own quickly. {Conclusion sentence}It's very self-aware and a bit pre-emptive (I have something akin to "I know you're going to use insincere language like 'connect' and 'discuss', even though you swore you wouldn't. It's okay.')
Thanks for posting this. The job search has been frustrating and networking can e tough and not yield the results that you want. I'm an active job seeker. I have a backgroud in recruitment so I'm happy to take a look at resumes or do mock interviews if folks will think it will help.
Thanks for writing this. You've essentially written everything I've thought about and struggled with. This is my 3rd job search and has been the longest and toughest because getting people to respond even in-network and make introductions has been challenging. I am happy to review other's peoples resumes (personally, I am awful at writing them but am much better at critiquing and looking at small details that often get overlooked). I am also happy to connect with anyone and make intros to people in my network (even if I haven't spoken to them in forever or at all for that matter). Linkedin:'d love for someone to review my resume as I've had it written and rewritten it with a friend about 5 or 6 times. I'm looking to join a mission-driven company that puts people first and cares about their employees (I've had some really great and not-so-great experiences) so if anyone knows of or can personally recommend either small start-ups or small privately-owned companies. I have lists upon lists and research them to no end but you don't really know what it's like unless you either speak to someone or work there. I'd love to hear about them. @mayashaff - Aside for the environment you're looking to work in, your last paragraph on your working style & the way you operate is exactly how I work as well. :-)Thanks ladies!Dana
I am with you on this being the toughest and longest job search I've had in my career history. Crazy enough, it's also the first time I'm job searching while not in a current full-time role, but being a SAHM (which is the hardest job in the world). I would love to connect on LinkedIn ๐Ÿ˜ƒ
All the Elpha snaps ๐ŸคŒ๐Ÿฝ and claps ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ for this post @mayashaff ๐Ÿ’› very deserving of a 'featured' flag for sure!Like many other Elphas commented already, this piece resonated with me! I have been job searching for a year now (w/o a current f/t role) while being a SAHM. Finding time for myself was something I had to learn and make a priority. I joined a career coaching program in early 2021 because it had been 8 years since I last looked for a job and I knew the job search I was getting into had grown into a new beast. And sheesh, has it been challenging! I agree with you @mayashaff that sitting down to write that resume was a hurdle. I know I have the relevant experience and can bring value to the roles/companies I applied to, but could I translate it well onto a one-page resume? Then there are cold outreaches. That was stepping out of my comfort zone, but I did it many times and rarely got responses. I thought to myself, why isn't this working? All the rejections, lack of feedback from interviews, and not moving to the final rounds took a hit on my confidence and I deal with a lot of imposter syndrome. I would love to raise my hand to give & get resume review feedback, tips on building confidence during interviews, examples of cold outreach messages that returned a response, and I'm sure later down the line when I get to that point - support on negotiating. I am from the SF Bay Area looking for remote roles (but will keep an open mind to hybrid if there is a good match). Ultimately would love to land a role in Product Operations or product adjacent role for a company that values and supports WLB (doesn't matter the hours you work, but values the work you put in), a company that gives back to the community, and has a company mission that aligns with my values. Happy to connect with other Elphas who are looking for support through this challenging job-search journey: positive vibes out into the universe for us all โœจ hugs & love
The search fatigue is so real! Glad that this post resonated with you @michellesmanifesto.
I saw an employer rave about how theyโ€™ve hired moms from this website: in case it helps you during your search!
Thank you! Yes, I've been following TMP for a long time now. I haven't applied to any roles through them (yet) ๐Ÿ˜„
Hi, elpha, I am a full-stack web developer looking for an entry-level position. Currently looking for a Seattle-based or remote-based position. My skills are react, node, express, and PostgreSQL. Thanks for your help. I am interested in taking internships also.
I got most of my job interviews through a combination of job applications and reaching out to someone my friend knew to get a referral. I was very careful in a referral, my referer knew what skills would get me into the company so I asked him to refer me to teams that need my skillset. It was a imperfect combination of both that is getting me the interviews. I was like enough with the LinkedIn brainwashing about career success, all LinkedIn does is point out crappy things about our jobs and sell us on the success formula to be free from working and do nothing. I was like even my Indian grandpa retired early and he hated being lazy in his retirement, so he went back to work part time and pretty much did the domestic work and the gardening in his free time. My grandpa just hated doing no work. For him taking breaks from work means working on something else. Iโ€™m the same unfortunately.
Oooooff thaank you @mayashaff for writing exactly how I seem to be feeling right now!ย  I so wish that we were not in a world where it's "who you know" that opens doors...But your post and the following comments reminded me that we are all human, all searching for something better, all aspiring to change our lives - and that was reassuring. ย My short story is that after 14 years of working within client services at marketing/creative/advertising agencies, I took a break last year.ย  For so long I've wanted to leave the agency world behind and use my skills to make a difference in the worldย  - sure, making cool ads is fun and all, but it wasn't satisfying anymore and often not at all aligned with my values.In the last year I've worked with an amazing career coach, I've freelanced at a very small (there are 3 of us!) start up to release an awesome MVP, and now I'm back on the job hunt after a year of fun, learning, volunteering and soul searching.ย  I'm confident that I have a broad range of skills that can be beneficial in many different roles, and I'm personalizing my resume to reflect that with my applications.ย  I'm finding I'm either 'too qualified' or 'my experience isn't directly relevant' (or, most commonly, just total silence) - and yes I may not be ticking every box on the job description, but I'm driven and smart and just need someone to give me a chance!ย  Like many of the comments above, I want to be in a mission driven company, making a change in the world - oh my, we so need it!ย I used to really enjoy recruitment in my prior roles, so if anyone wants to connect and shoot me their resume, I'd happily review it:ยย Good luck with your job searches, everyone - we've got this!ย 
It sounds like you've been experiencing exactly what I did. I hope you find your perfect role soon!
Thank you so much for putting the struggle into words so well. I am looking for a role in data analytics in a start up in the functional healthcare space. It's been pretty difficult to break into it without knowing anyone in it. My linkedin is Happy to introduce others to those in my network as well!
I read your post, itโ€™s inspiring. Iโ€™m looking for a career change, will you be able to have a quick chat with me
Hoping you find what you're looking for @anushyaparam! What industry are you looking to break into?
Iโ€™m trying to break into IT sector linked with hospitality and handling global account
I had a similar experience 12 years ago. A friend had to help me break into a tech job, but to get my foot in the door I had to start over at the bottom. Later, as a Customer Success leader I felt badly seeing so many women looking for work without the tools they needed to get hired. So I cofounded a company focused on solving these issues for diverse career transitioners; with interview practice groups, resume services, warm introductions to hiring managers from industry insiders, and the skills to get/do the jobs. We post lots of great advice on LinkedIn and there are tons of CSM hiring managers in my network, happy to connect!
So cool you saw the problem and created a company to solve it @AnnieD! Could you share the company/LinkedIn page here so other Elphas can connect there too?
You can connect with me or follow RecastSuccess
@AnnieD Hi Annie, I'd love to connect. I sent a request on Linkedin, I hope that is okay! I'm a teacher currently looking to transition into a project coordinator/management position.
@mayashaff Thank you for sharing. I have been having all the challenges you mention and tried all the tips and tricks advised by many career coaches. It is nice to see a community wanting to help one another and coming together. I see similar stories more and more these days. The job search has definitely changed in the past 5 years.I am a job seeker, with 20 years of graphic design experience and excited to find my next career opportunity. I am open to different industries and mainly looking for a great collaborative work environment and a culture that truly understands the importance of its employees. I am happy to help where I can as well. Thank you
Hello ladies. this article exactly describes my situation now. I'm seeing a lot of posts online about networking and all, but networking is a lot harder than applying for jobs (hah!). I am a marketing specialist with 10 years of work experience in tech startups and I am now looking to shift into web3 (preferably in a brand marketing role). If you know anyone at Chainalysis, Binance or any other cool company in web3, I would love an intro. For all the other ladies, hang in there!
This DAO (Twali) offers freelancing opportunities for other startups, including other web3 & crypto startups. The most recent job posting I see is actually for a marketing specialist who would help build out a strategy for a web3 DAO. Once you are in the discord look for the โ€œweekโ€ channel. these opps and connections can lead you to an org that you want to work at!
@mayashaff This article is spot on ! Thank you for sharing your story. I was a Director of Finance for the federal government for over 18 years. While I feel my experience is valuable, the feedback I am getting is I donโ€™t have industry/relevant experience. Any tips or insights you can share to overcome this challenge is greatly appreciated! I would also love to connect with fellow job seekers . My LinkedIn is :
Networking is key - it will help you (and potentially the other person involved) grow and learn. Bonus points if you can help each other in the middle of a job search.Happy to connect with other Elphas on LinkedIn - just say as much in the invitation request!
I'd like to raise 2 hands if I could! This article definitely resonated with me. I've been looking for that perfect opportunity and have applied to so so many jobs only to hear crickets!! Im an HR benefits Administrator looking to make a difference and help people. Anyone hiring in HR please reach out. Thank you.