Do you ever stop and think that it would be nice if there were rules for the job hunt? You could just read the free online manual, do exactly what it says and land the job of your dreams?
The problem, of course, is that everyone would be reading the same exact manual (since it would be free!) Think about how competitive it would be. There was a comment on my post about job seeking and the Olympics this week from Michael Glenn that said “If job seekers trained like Olympic athletes for a job interview, they can reach Gold medal status.” If everyone had “the rules,” that would be true – it would be necessary to train as an Olympian to even get your foot in the door!
The fact is, no one can tell you the “right” way to land a job. There are as many opinions about resumes, networking, using social media and cover letters as there are hiring managers, recruiters and career coaches!
To further complicate the situation, everyone is different! What is right for you is not right for your neighbor, and your colleague needs something else altogether. As a result, I think the best approach is to EMBRACE the system instead of rage against it. Is it fair? No, no question that job seeking is not listed under “fair” in Webster’s…In fact, the job hunt process is anything but fair! The nature of selecting candidates is discriminatory: the organization has a set of criteria, combined with personal biases, personality considerations and individual impressions. Hiring someone with the “right fit” for the job is as nuanced as it gets.
On the other hand, Mark Jaffe notes on the Personal Success blog:
“We have a pretty terrific system in America: Careers are open to talent. I’m not saying it’s a pure meritocracy, but compared to other countries and cultures, we completely rock. Who your parents were, how you grew up, even where you went to school — all these factors are secondary to whether or not you can deliver the goods.” (Hat tip @danschawbel for tweeting this post.)
Good point! Reading on, he suggests this approach for job seekers (instead of trying out for the job):
“Imagine instead that you’re a consultant, and that you’ve already been paid a non-refundable $20,000 consulting fee to attend this meeting. How does that change things?”
Possibly very good advice for many people. Certainly, a positive way to think about job search – as if you already have the job and need to begin solving the client’s problems. I don’t think you can go too wrong presenting yourself as the solution to a prospective employer’s “pain points.” HOW you do it, however, and how you can be most successful MUST vary based on your level of experience, the employer and both of your personalities.
So, the takeaway here – educate yourself. Don’t make errors that can be “no brainers” for some positions (e.g., missing deadlines, typos, not knowing how your skills directly pertain to the job). But, be wary of anyone who writes a book or a blog and tells you that they have the holy grail of job search. All we can do is offer general advice and the onus is on you – the job seeker – to evaluate it and either incorporate it or not into your plans.