This is going to sound backwards, and I don’t blame you if you find it hard to believe at first, but give me a chance and I will prove that there is a way to do LESS, have MORE FUN, and get the BEST job possible, in spite of the fact that you have been doing everything possible, perhaps even everything you have been advised to do, and have not enjoyed or sustained momentum in your job search.
There is a huge misconception out there that if you are out of work, you need to HUSTLE. And yet, so many job seekers feel as though they are doing everything right, but not being offered the jobs that they feel are the best suited for them. Some receive offers they know are not the best suited, but accept them anyway. This is the cause for the 69% disengagement rate that causes US companies to lose over $400B annually.
If you have applied to over 100, even 50 jobs, and have yet to receive an offer, one of the following, or a combination of the following, are most likely the reason:
- Your efforts are not the right efforts
It never fails when I speak to a group of job seekers. I ask the question, “How many of you have heard that networking is the #1 way to find a job?” and everyone raises their hands. Then I ask, “How many of you are spending at least 50% of your job search on job board or filling out online applications?” and 75-100% of the room raise their hands.
Even when they know that networking is the most effective way to find a job, they spend a small percentage of their time networking and a majority of the time on resources that only have a 5-10% chance of turning into an opportunity. And, even if they are networking, most are doing that ineffectively, either meekly asking for favors instead of boldly articulating their value, or collecting and distributing cards to essentially spam people, instead of asking rapport-building questions, nurturing their networks by providing value, and then inspiring contacts to generate leads based on the value to the employer.
I also think that many people have an inflated idea of how much time effective networking takes and that it has to look a certain way, for instance like schmoozing with people you wouldn’t normally associate with, or sucking up to people for whom you don’t have any respect or admiration. While it is outside of many people’s comfort zone, it can look a lot more like you engaging in fun and/or purposeful activities, even unrelated to your profession, and in small groups versus big events.
Spend over 60% of your time on people, who will always be much more powerful advocates than technology. Also, be proactive in your pursuit of a job over 60% of the time rather than passively filling out online applications and hitting buttons. You get what you give.
- Your goal is not the right goal
People are not as good actors as they imagine themselves to be. People can also genuinely believe that they are pursuing a noble goal, even if it is not the right goal for them. If you experience challenges pursuing a particular position, ask yourself if you are targeting the right position. You may have decided that something else you really wanted to do wasn’t viable, it would take too long to land or wouldn’t pay enough, but it’s actually the right thing, the thing you will attract like a magnet, and your best chance of increasing your income trajectory in the long-term. A job that utilizes your strengths and allows you to pursue a passion represents your best chances at success, but also happiness and fulfillment. Sometimes things don’t just happen TO us, they happen FOR us. No good company wants to hire you for a consolation career.
This applies not only for pursuing the wrong position, but also the wrong employer. You don’t need to appeal to all companies in an industry if only a few of them would recognize you as a fit for their culture. Decide ahead of time what cultures you fit into and be proactive in pursuing them.
- Your brand is stale
So many people stop short of distinguishing themselves from their competition, feeling as though their qualifications are strong enough to make them an obvious choice. If you were on the hiring end, though, you would realize that there are a good crop of people with the qualifications to do the job. The one that gets the furthest the fastest, and ultimately the offer, is the one who can create excitement and a sense of urgency based on what they bring above and beyond meeting the requirements of the job. Your brand needs to be genuine and distinct.
It can be challenging to be objective about whether you are distinguishing yourself or not. So many people think if they call themselves “driven,” “a team player,” “passionate,” “a leader,” or “creative” that this is adequate branding. It isn’t. It’s probably true, but it isn’t distinct.
I have found that there are 4-6 major distinctions every person has that will help them rise above the rest. It’s frequently not WHAT they do, but HOW or even WHY. Everyone has his or her own unique set of experiences. This is where you have to dig to find the artifacts and evidence of your unique value.
- You are being perceived as a risky candidate
How critical, skeptical, even cynical recruiters and hiring managers are is vastly underestimated by job seekers. There are often more risk signals between a job seeker’s résumé and social media than there are value signals. As soon as the scale tips more toward risk, the job seeker gets passed over. What also gets underestimated is how clued in recruiters are to the tactics people use to hide risk factors. Instead of sweeping a risk factor under a rug, they often put bright red tape right on it.
Look, no candidate is going to be perfect, but the riskier candidate is the one that can’t admit where the imperfections are/were. If you can’t admit it, you can’t demonstrate your ability to learn from mistakes and even help companies prevent them.
You want MOST of the focus on value, but if there is a risk factor, such as being fired, having a visible project fail, experiencing long-term unemployment, or even having personal events interfere with work, then you need to craft a simple, relatable story based on facts that is appropriate to tell in various media, such as in your résumé (perhaps), your LinkedIn profile, or when networking or interviewing.
While some risks are common, how you might address them is very particular to your circumstances and target employer. If you want specific advice, I recommend a complimentary 40-minute consultation and some one-on-one branding and campaign assistance.
- Your mindset is out of alignment
We give off vibes. We pick up vibes. Even the most scientific, empirical people among us will admit that we get vibes from people. In fact, as I demonstrated in a previous post, science can actually explain why this is. Maya Angelou said, “People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” Positive psychologist Shawn Achor proved that negativity and stress are contagious with an experiment at an airport. I don’t spend a lot of time talking to my clients about non-verbal communication tactics or things that they can do to manipulate the interviewer into alignment. None of these things has to be manufactured when there is real alignment, so that is what I coach my clients on. This is not “positive thinking,” which doesn’t fool anyone, including yourself. This is learning how to accept what is, truly appreciate yourself and know your own value, genuinely connect and empathize with the other person, trust in God (or the Universe, or whatever you believe is operating in your world,) and inspiring the support of others. You can’t put a band-aid on stress and anxiety and expect that no one will know it’s there. Others can feel it. And even if you walk in to an interview fully confident, there could be that one question you dread, and it can all go downhill from there. Your stress responses will take over and even if you learned how to tactically shift your non-verbal communication, you will forget or execute poorly.
If you network or interview without a fortified mindset, it can not only sabotage the results you want, but it can be a big waste of time and can make you feel worse, making it that much harder to get into a state of mind that lubricates your efforts and creates ease in getting results.
There are things that can be done just prior to an event or interview to help with mindset, but even the things you do behind a computer can be much more effective if you do them with a fortified mindset. Another Shawn Achor study proved that investing 10 minutes in meditation actually creates 62 minutes of productivity. Exercising prior to doing work is another hack to improve your mindset, make you less vulnerable to getting thrown off your game, and boost your IQ.