Job Hunting: The Wrong Approach

There’s something I don’t understand. Maybe it’s a product of sloppy thinking, of nobody ever taking people by the hand and explaining it. The issue is this: when the vast majority of people look for work, they get all scared, rushed, and want to take the first thing that comes along. They fall into jobs without any thought as to whether it’s a good fit for them, or if it will make them miserable, or even if in the long run this is helpful to their progression.

Why do you do this?

I don’t. I have made a long study of job hunting, the whats and whys, how things really work. I don’t understand why most people have this weak-kneed reaction and find it very frustrating to witness. Is your sole concern the money? There are plenty of jobs paying about the same amount. Do you really want to get into a situation that, a few months into, you say to yourself about: Well, I really don’t like it here, but I’m staying ‘cause I need the money…

Why do you do this?

Do you feel compelled to repeat the same bland things everyone else has listed on their resumes? How is this helpful? The only way you get an interview call is by standing out. As someone who has been a hiring manager, I simply don’t believe you when you list that you’ve got “exceptional problem solving and communication skills”. I just don’t buy it. Everyone says they have those abilities, but few actually do—and I’ll make you prove it or fail in the interview.

My approach is to define you clearly to employers so that they can quickly determine whether you’re a potential fit or not for them. Let’s say there are 30 jobs available right now in your industry and town. Using my methods, it’s true that maybe 25 employers would screen you out as not a fit. You panic when you read this. But why? You would be unhappy there. Is the lure of some money so great for you? It’s available everywhere. Now look at the flipside. The remaining 5 employers have determined that you, yes you, are most likely a really good fit for them. Because of your specific description of interests and how you will benefit them, you stand above all the other candidates. In other words, your chances of getting one of these 5 jobs is far, far greater than any other candidate’s.

So which situation would you rather have:

30 slow-moving, very diluted chances of randomly ending up on employers’ call lists, probably just to round out a pre-selected number of interviews someone said they’d do (“OK boss, I’ll interview four people, but only one is really any good for us”)?

5 fast-moving, excellent, clearly understandable chances of definitely ending up on employers’ short lists, because they want to talk to you specifically?

Me, I’ll take the 5 sniper-accurate opportunities every time—my job search will be much shorter and I’ll be a lot happier.

What have you been doing to this point with your job search? Diluting yourself down in the frightened hope of generically appealing to everything in sight—and getting left on the bench—or being super clear about who you are and what you bring to the game, and getting good chance after good chance to prove you should be on the team?

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