For most people, job searching is not an enjoyable process. Very few are lucky enough to always be in the right place at the right time or to have ideal jobs land in their laps. That being the case, the best job searching results usually come to that who are tenacious, resilient and resourceful.
Sounds easy enough, right? Sure. Except on occasion, job seekers display career limiting traits instead. These include being bitter, stubborn and unfocused. Let’s examine how that makes an already obstacle filled situation even more unpleasant…
Sour State of Affairs for the Bitter
No doubt about it, bad stuff happens to good people. All. The. Time. Being bitter may be justified in the short term, but it is almost never productive in the long term. These are the people who place blame on all sorts of factors rather than taking steps to overcome which ever real or perceived challenges they face. It could be that they have not yet accepted and grieved their job loss. Or, perhaps they continuously make excuses about the economy and job market as a whole. While the past several years have been beyond difficult, that in itself may not be entirely responsible for them not being able to acquire a new position.
Many times, bitter people are the ones who make assumptions about their age or looks or some other insignificant factor causing them not to find work. They are easily spotted because they tend to mention that in their introduction or elevator pitch. It goes something like this: “Hi, I’m Susan. I just got laid off after working 23 years as an office administrator. I’m having a hard time finding a job, because at my age, no one wants to hire me.” Susan comes across as bitter when she fixates her attention, and thus her audience’s thoughts, on what she believes to be the issue.
How likely is the person hearing this and sensing the bitterness to leave with a favorable impression of Susan and be inclined to help her? All they will probably remember is that she seemed oddly convinced that her age had something to do with her situation. Sure, they might feel sorry for her, but is there any incentive to offer anything beyond pity? Not really, and for Susan’s sake that is a pity!
Stuck in Rut Being Stubborn
There are many facets to stubborn behavior or ideas when it comes to the job search process. Evidence of this is clear when employers continue to report that they struggle to find quality candidates for their open positions. Yet, job seekers express frustration about applying, applying and applying to dozens or even hundreds of ads with no response. Why the discrepancy? Well, there could be a legitimate gap in skill set availability in certain niche sectors. However in the majority of cases, it is a matter of missed opportunities.
What tends to happen is that employers have opening to fill and they begin a search or post an ad. Job seekers come across that information and express interest. That is the part where stubbornness causes problems. It is a known fact that employers receive mass quantities of applications in response to each opening. What seems to escape many stubborn job seekers is that it is necessary for them to stand out from the competition by submitting a compelling message to get the employers attention.
Advice is plentiful about resume writing. One of the common themes is the idea of customization. Stubborn job seekers mistakenly believe that their experience should speak for itself and there is no need to tailor their communications to the employer’s perspective. They blast the same bland resume out to as many employers as they can find and then wonder why the phone isn’t ringing or the email inbox isn’t full of recruiter messages.
Other signs of stubbornness show up in the quality of the resume, cover letter or online profile of a candidate. Stubborn job seekers refuse to examine their information objectively and continue using stale or error-ridden career marketing materials which fail to portray their true level of talent. They may occasionally ask someone for input and tweak a thing or two, but essentially they keep doing the same thing over and over. Such a stubborn mindset tends to result in the same lack of results.
Unable to Uncover Clarity if Unfocused
Unfocused people are the ones who list all kinds of previous jobs along with assorted skills they used at every place they ever punched a time clock. But when asked to identify what kind of job they are looking for, they fumble around and give a vague rambling explanation. As in: “Well, I’ve done so many things, I can really do just about any job.” To be successful, job seekers are expected to narrow their scope to a very specific set of criteria and then formulate their search strategy accordingly. Doing this seems nearly impossible for the unfocused types. They tend to fear that being focused translates to missing out on possibilities. Therefore, they like to keep their options open or they choose multiple directions and can’t ever manage to dedicate enough effort to any of them.
Ironically without a focus, others in that person’s network are unable to offer support. Likewise, when the unfocused job seeker applies for positions, the employer doesn’t bother trying to figure out what they are qualified for. So they get passed over time after time. Many unfocused job seekers falsely believe that broader their resume is the more potential they will have to land a job. Actually, the opposite tends to the case. Employers value talent diversity and well-rounded skill sets, yet they want to quickly and easily spot a match with their current requirements. When a person fails to effectively market toward that goal, the recipient of their information just views them as scattered or unqualified.
Not having multiple avenues of job search activities also tends be a sign of an unfocused job seeker. They prefer to take the obvious path and just apply online for the jobs they happen to find on the major job boards. What they miss out on is that a certain percentage of positions may filled through indirect means. Examples would be employee referral programs, direct sourcing, networking and other relationship-based methods. The unfocused job seeker sticks with conventional job application methods. They don’t realize the impact of broadening their approach and leveraging each and every channel to further expand their reach.
These days, job seekers are dealing with unique and complex circumstances in the ever-changing employment arena. Those who take steps to move forward with a positive outlook, open mind and a flexible, yet targeted strategy, will reach their goal much faster and with much more pleasurable results along the way.
Guest blog post written by Kelly Blokdijk. As a talent optimization advisor Kelly’s professional background of “Creating a Voice for Talent” includes 10+ years experience offering exceptional human resources, organization development and recruiting support to diverse organizations.
Article adapted from an original TalentTalks Talent Optimization Blog written by Kelly Blokdijk (block-dyke)