Last week, I traveled to Chicago to speak at the CFA Institute’s annual conference. Traveling into the city from the airport, I knew I should be able to see the skyline…Maybe I am biased (having grown up in the area), but I think Chicago has one of the most lovely skylines of any city. My family moved away from Illinois after I graduated from high school, so even though I haven’t been back in many years, I knew enough to know what I should be able to see!
No luck. I started to doubt myself and assume, for some reason, the direction I was traveling meant I would not see that familiar cityscape. After all, I had never actually landed at Midway Airport and then traveled north into the city, being that I had lived in the south suburbs. I convinced myself that the angle of the path must be making it difficult to see anything.
It was cloudy, but I did not realize how foggy it was…In fact, it was so foggy, I didn’t realize the kind of view I had from the hotel room window until the next day. (This picture is the surprising view once the weather cleared up.) Of course, the fog was the reason I wasn’t seeing that beloved skyline, not because of the path we took from the airport. (This was clear on the way back to the airport — turning around, there was the skyline.)
I knew it all along…I had enough experience in that city to know what I should have been seeing, but I still talked myself into assuming it must just be the road I was on preventing my view.
Isn’t that what so many job seekers do? They allow themselves to interpret information incorrectly because the result is not what they expect. Maybe they know, intellectually, what they should be doing, but convince themselves of something that isn’t true because landing a job can be like driving in the fog — confusing. You can’t see what is really there, so it’s easy to conjure up reasons why.
The reason you are not getting a job may have nothing at all to do with the reasons you think. It may not be because of the economy, or because you are too young, or too old. Maybe it’s because you are effectively job hunting in the fog, when you need a clear sky to be able to see how to get where you are going.
Are you on the wrong road? Maybe you can’t land a job because you are actually applying for the wrong positions. When is the last time you really studied the job descriptions that interested you and evaluated if you are really qualified? Have you thought about applying for different types of jobs? Maybe â€œyour jobâ€ doesnâ€™t exist anymore; your field isnâ€™t hiring. It may be time to look at your career from a different direction. Avoid being linear in your thinking; start exploring new opportunities and options. Maybe that includes working for yourself or branching out into a different field altogether. The first step is being willing to look at things from a new angle.
Have you stopped to think about if your career materials are presenting an unclear picture of your goals? What would someone reading your materials be able to learn about you? Have you done an audit of your digital footprint, what you are saying about yourself? Are you presenting a clear, “blue sky” picture of what you offer, or will a reader be confused? Have you linked your “hobby” chef blog to your LinkedIn profile and confused readers who think you want to be an accountant? If reviewing your resume and online properties leaves a reader wondering, it’s time to re-tool.
Maybe youâ€™re too busy writing your resume all about you, when you really need to re-focus and write it to illustrate the touch points making you qualified for the job? Are you looking backward (metaphorically) in your application materials (into the fog), when itâ€™s time to turn around and look to the future? Your resume needs to be about that future â€” itâ€™s not a historical diatribe; itâ€™s a marketing document. Focus it on your NEXT opportunity, even if it means you need to look in a different direction to do it.
Knowing how to look for a job is not intuitive. If you haven’t done it before, or you haven’t conducted a job search in a long time, you are probably sitting in the fog right now. Don’t wait for the weather to change — take charge of your career. Spend the time to learn how to conduct a successful search before you look back and realize the skyline was there all along.