Many job seekers feel as though the job market and maze that is job search, is a chaotic mess. They feel thrown into the deep end without a compass. If your mind goes blank when it comes to planning your next step and long-term action in your job search, you are not alone.
The heart of the message
“I’ve never had to look for a job in my life, and now I have to find one right away. I’m clueless.”
“Wow! Those folks make me feel like a desperado looking for their help, or for them to pick me. It’s really intimidating and demeaning.”
I hear refrains like these from clients all the time.
It is a mess in many ways. The job market presents a confusing face and few guideposts to people seeking employment. The Internet bombards job seekers with massive amounts of information; yet much of it is just plain bad. Applicants don’t know how to sift the valuable career service providers from the mediocre or worse. It throws candidates into a black hole, and exploits applicants far more than it assists them. Our job market “system” falls woefully short in matching the right people with the right jobs.
The key to taking the power
You will bring it under your personal control when you decide that employers are no more your backers than you are theirs. You will bring it under control when you decide to banish this attitude of humility and well, sheepish and meek posturing or petitioning for a favor; and when you understand that you are offering employers value at least equal to any pay they may offer you. With this mindset, you will look on the whole employment process as one in which people collaboratively explore the possibility of a mutually beneficial relationship.
This is really important: Understanding and believing that you are valuable means you know when to blame the system and not yourself if things get off track in your job search.
Leave no stone unturned
Because of the way the job market is currently designed, confusion, frustration, disappointment—even depression—are rampant among job seekers. The best way to avoid such discouragement is to enter the job market knowing its pitfalls and how to dodge them.
- Aim for the ideal fit. Honestly, most people can find a job. The question is whether it is the one you want. Shouldn’t your next position closely fit your entire personality (skills, interests, dislikes, non-negotiables, etc.) to be an exciting piece of your life? Shouldn’t it challenge you yet satisfy you? Shouldn’t it be where you want it to be? Does this exist? Yes! But here’s the deal; if you are going to find one of the better jobs, you will have to talk about it; and campaign for it.
- Focus your efforts. Some things have not changed. Your best return will be through targeted research; and reaching out to and talking to people . Rely on your own strategically pulled together tools, resources and plan. Don’t rely on the Internet job banks, help-wanted ads, agencies, etc. You can hit the wall quite fast.
- Remember the 80/20 rule. Concentrating most of your effort—at least 80% of it—on those vast number of openings that employers never release to agencies or job banks (or haven’t even created yet), is crucial to your successful job search. On the other hand, do devote some time (but not more than 20%) to the services of organized job delivery systems.
- Get help. If you are struggling, a qualified career coach or counselor can help. There are many out there who care deeply about helping their clients; and who have the experience and skills to do so. Ask for references, and check them out online to see if they have credentials, a professional presence, and have general credibility and recommendation. The right career coach can help you keep your balance as you walk the high wire between difficult decisions and repeated discouragement.
Whatever you do, keep in mind that no stone should be left unturned in your job search. Look on it as a full-time project. If you are employed, it is a part-time job. If you are unemployed, it is a full-time job. In the words of Dennis Waitley, “The results you achieve will be in direct proportion to the effort you apply.”
Photo: Sebastien Wiertz