This is a little sarcastic, I know. But as I was clearing out my email yesterday, I was hit over and over again with reoccurring themes of “stuck in a rut”, “unable to find a job”, “no one wants to hire me” sob stories. If any of these shoes fit, get a new pair quickly. Better yet, share this with people you know, you may even need to highlight the areas they need to fix.
As a society (a gross generalization, I know), we are afraid to provide direct feedback to one another. When you were treated poorly by a store clerk, waitress or work colleague, did you let them know how their actions or words made you feel? Did you suggest they approach how the deal with people differently? No? Why not? It wasn’t your place? What good would it do? Unless you do something, you’ll never know if it will work. This is a plea to help a fellow job seeker by providing them with the honest, maybe even brutal feedback they need. If they hear you, if you are authentic in your message and its intent, they’ll thank you later.
Stop playing it safe, take some risks. Let’s make this a better world, OK?!
These are seven descriptions of behavior or missing knowledge I’ve witnessed that prevent people from getting a job, feel free to add yours!
1) You’ve got nothing to say
If you aren’t reading the news and you aren’t up on current events, you have very little to contribute to any conversation. This is probably the reason why you aren’t getting much from LinkedIn and you think Twitter is a waste of time. These tools are social. People are sharing information because they have something to say. Over simplified, perhaps. My point is, you have to have “conversational currency” as Keith Ferrazzi calls it. Read your local newspaper daily, subscribe to industry newsletters and blogs, pick up a book for crying out loud (Have you read any of these?)! If you are looking for some free online industry newsletters, check out SmartBrief. If you want to read interested blogs about your industry, try searching AllTop or Technorati.
2) You are waiting for people to get back to you (hand you a job)
I’ll admit, employers aren’t very good at responding to applicants. Let’s just all agree the process is broken. You are the job seeker, on a hunt for the job. No company is handing out jobs to the first person in line (though that would be nice, wouldn’t it?!). You have to prove you are interested in the job, be persistent, follow up. One email isn’t enough. One phone call, isn’t what I’m talking about. Pursue each opportunity until you get some sort of response and ALWAYS ask when you should follow up again. Take ownership of this hunt.
3) You are an “old fart”
What I mean by this is you are coming across as:
- Too expensive (your salary expectation are out of wack for today’s job market)
- Unwilling or unable to adapt and work in a fast paced environment with constantly changing priorities
- Behind the times (your skills or knowledge are not up to date)
Who created this perception of being a “old fart”? You did. Change this by making sure that on paper and online you are perceived as contemporary. Use examples of times you’ve had to adjust and adapt. Create videos or Slideshare presentations and add them to your LinkedIn profile. Enroll in training to keep your skills updated. These are some of the obvious solutions.
4) You are a young whipper-snapper
The flip side of being too old is being too inexperienced. As any new graduate realizes, it is hard to get experience without some prior. This is not new. The ones who overcome this are the recent graduates who were involved in activities or internships. These activities provide great hands-on experience, so talk about them. The other thing young whipper-snappers should realize is that you may need to start at the bottom and work your way up. Get your foot in the door, gain some real work experience so you’ll have something to build upon. FYI, starting at the bottom also means a lower salary than you might expect. Heck, we all have to start somewhere.
5) You don’t know how recruiters work
For the last time, recruiters do not find you a job. They work for the employer. Don’t expect more from them than they are able to provide. Here’s a post about the differences between a recruiter, hiring manager and HR: HR, Recruiters, Hiring Managers…they all have different missions.
6) You haven’t realized this isn’t about you, it is about the employer
If you are still obsessing over what you’ll say about yourself in your elevator pitch and using the same resume and standard cover letter to apply for every job, then you are missing the boat. No one cares about what you’ve done and where you’ve been. They want to know how you can solve their problems. Put everything you say and write in terms that will benefit others. And make it interesting.
7) Your attitude sucks
You’ve met these people. They complain, criticize and blame others. They are negative and exude a dark black cloud. Please, somehow, someway, let them know that their “tude is showing.
The really good news about these seven problems, is that they are all easily fixable. First you have to admit which ones are yours.