Job Search frustration? Try this tip

I read a letter to the editor in our local paper today where the writer stated that he had lost his job due to the economy a while back. He said he had been diligent about searching for work (for months), applying online and in person, following up the next day… mostly didn’t get interviews, but when he did, employers acted like they didn’t want him… and he was peeved that they said they were looking to hire employees but they weren’t hiring him.

His view was that the economy is in shambles, the recovery non-existent, and the businesses who indicate they are looking for employees are simply leading people on (and he implies they are doing it to bedevil the poor job applicants and fill them with false hope.) He finally says he doesn’t need much to survive, and almost anything would be acceptable at this point. And he closes with a statement that his associates degree is a fraud (in terms of usefulness.)

He is clearly frustrated… and getting a sense of desperation. He brings up two different areas I would like to address – one for the job seekers and one for the business owners. I will address job seekers in this post and the business owners in the next.

Having been on both sides of the hiring desk, several times, I can bring a perspective that he (and maybe, you?) doesn’t have. Naturally, he is looking at his employment from his own perspective… only. This is normal. We all tend to do this. But you can’t solve a problem from the same level that incurred it. You have to have a higher perspective.

The tendency we have to is see our wonderfulness and expect that others should see it, too. When they don’t, it bothers us. It is incredibly obvious to us… so they must be really dense… or incredibly depraved… deliberately ignoring our fantasticness. How do I know this? I am a human, too. 🙂

But rather than refute your wonderfulness… which I have no doubt is true, I would like to offer another perspective with a goal of giving you back control of your life.

When I was a hiring manager, what I had to have above all was a good fit for my needs… the reason I had a job opening in the first place. Suppose I had someone apply who met three of the four major requirements, but also had someone who met all four of them. Would it make sense for me to pursue the first applicant over the second (all else being equal)? Of course not.

It is about the first applicant? Not really. It is about fitness for our needs. It is a personal rejection? No. But it always feels personal to the one not selected or not hearing back.

And if I have two (or more) applicants who meet all four major requirements? Then I have to start looking at minor requirements and the applicant’s potential fit with the existing team. It can come down to very minor things… especially in the interview process.

There was a time a few years ago when getting someone who had three of the four major criteria was usually the best we could do… and finding someone with all four was unlikely. Times have changed and I know that hiring managers get flooded with applicants who meet all major criteria. They also get flooded with people who don’t meet any, but are still hopeful… or perhaps, grasping at straws.

With that kind of competition what can you do?

The first thing you do is change your mindset. Quit looking for an employer to GIVE you a job. Instead, look for a value exchange wherein you TRADE a fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage. In this world view, you are looking for partners not providers. It can change the way you search.

And now, the tip I promised for regaining control of your life (at least as much as any of us ever have) in regards to your job search and interview.

TIP: Show them how you are valuable to them.

Here’s a way to do that. First, don’t apply to job opening you see. Target the companies. Pick the ones that you can really contribute to.

Next, figure out how you can be an asset to them… how you solve the problems that they have. (If you don’t know the company and the position’s problems well enough to show how you can solve them, then you don’t know enough to apply for the position, yet. Do your research.)

In your application, your cover letter… and later on, the interview, tell them (and show them, if possible) how you are a good fit for them… and how you can be an asset to them… how you have potential solutions for problems they have. When you do this, you have just put yourself into the top 1% of applicants/candidates they receive.

Agree or disagree? Use the comments and tell me.

UPDATE:  To help you figure out how to research the company and more tips on optimizing your job search, see this post at reCareered blog.

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