Answered by Dana, Hiring Expert at ManpowerGroup, on Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Depending on your location, it may be that there are relatively few contract management roles open compared to the number of qualified individuals, and that definitely makes for a tough race. With 1-3 years of experience, it could be that there are other candidates who are much more tenured within your local market, and you just aren’t making it past preliminary application reviews simply because of who else is in the talent pool along with you.
Some hiring managers may also prefer those with people-leadership experience. If you don’t yet have this, you may want to consider participating with a local non-profit, leading a team or committee, or volunteering to head up an initiative or event. Examine your background for areas where there may be gaps in experience that are holding you back, and try as best you can to remedy this, even if it means doing unpaid work for the practice (and the chance to add those skills to your resume).
Are you open to relocation? Moving to another city may be worth considering. If you still reside in the same place where you secured your degrees, I would imagine there are other grads living in the area who are also competing against you. Working elsewhere is worth exploring thoroughly, and I would search the job boards for postings in other parts of the U.S. which offer relocation assistance.
How are you utilizing LinkedIn? That can also make a difference. I would encourage you to join groups related to your intended career path, and then connect to members in locations and/or organizations where you may want to work. Let them know that you’re reaching out in order to strengthen your professional network in this industry, and once they accept, perhaps send along a brief message thanking them in advance for any advice or referrals they can provide. For job seekers, LinkedIn can be a bit tricky, because you want to maximize your circles of professional acquaintances, while also making sure that the people you are connecting to are indeed relevant to your field.
Lastly, it helps to understand where your application is going “post-submittal.” Oftentimes, applications are first reviewed by more junior recruiters, HR assistants, and the like, who are merely combing through the group for a strict combination of traits, as described by more senior members of the hiring team. This usually occurs prior to candidates being contacted by telephone.
If you aren’t making it past this step, and receiving calls from recruiters or HR professionals, two things may be going on. One is that they already have someone in mind for the role, and aren’t very seriously considering any outside contenders. The other situation is that there are areas of your background that don’t quite align with the employer’s core requirements. That means gaining experience to fill those gaps, and/or re-working your resume and LinkedIn page to more accurately reflect how your skillset and employment/educational history meet the needs of their position.
One last thing: Take a look at other Contract Managers on LinkedIn around the country, and evaluate how they describe themselves and their achievements. It might give you some new verbiage to try!