Landing the perfect job: Five obstacles standing between you and employment
It’s the crippling feeling of inferiority that makes the job search so dismal. However, the answers are all in your head. All the negative, depressing, defeating thoughts that you entertain as you send out resumes and trudge through interviews . . . you can fix them!
So what is it about you that makes you look and feel inferior?
1. Make your presence felt – virtually and physically.
To the employer you are nobody. Anonymity is safe. That’s why you apply online, email your resume, and post your job seeker profile with the millions of other strangers in line at the virtual employment office. You’d much rather be ignored by a computer than rejected by an old acquaintance.
But anonymous, absent job hunting is a formula for safe unemployment. If you stay holed up at home in your pajamas in front of your computer, you will never stand out before an employer.
Employers, by the way, are people. To be somebody, you need to connect with somebody – not a website. Spend at least a couple of hours every day connecting with real people. Wasting away the hours on Facebook or Twitter isn’t a waste if you are socialising with purpose. Use LinkedIn. Let people know you’re looking for work and listen to people who are looking to hire. Make lunch appointments, make office visits, and discuss your industry with people you like. This will greatly increase the chances of working with people you like.
2. Think beyond the refrain ‘I need to get a job’.
Employers don’t care about you. In time, the people for whom you work might care about your problems. That time is not now. The only concern weighing on the minds of a hiring company is the need to fill job openings and accomplish business objectives.
Most job candidates have one objective in mind (usually stated nebulously and needlessly atop their resumes): to get a job. But if you focus solely on getting a job, you’re probably ignoring how you could succeed at that job. Shift your attention away from you. Think about the needs of the company and how you could help meet them if you had the job. If you can imagine yourself doing the job instead of just landing it, an employer will find it much easier to imagine hiring you.
3. Contrary to what you think, you’re good enough for this job!
If you think you’re not good enough for this job – do you know what happens when someone arrives at a job already perfect at everything? They get promoted to a tougher one.
Having a successful career is all about improvement. You might not have every qualification the job listing asks for; you might not be the ideal candidate, but if you have the basic skills necessary to learn the job, you are a viable candidate.
Most employers will expect new hires to go through some sort of training and develop along the way. They will see your potential if you see it. And think about this: who is currently doing the work laid out in the job description? Probably, no one was. Could you do a better job than no one?
That’s the spirit!
4. Don’t let the job description intimidate you!
Fine, that job description doesn’t sound like you at all. Ask some employed friends to tell you their current job descriptions. If even one of them can tell you what it is, he or she probably just completed an annual review. But most job descriptions are professional gibberish that fails to portray what you will actually be doing.
Cut through the fancy HR talk and figure out what the job is really all about. Call someone at the company (or find someone with an online presence) and ask him or her to tell you about the position. No real person talks like a job listing. A human being will give you a clearer picture of what’s essential to the job. The main reason most job descriptions are inaccurate is because most positions evolve according to the strengths of the people who fill them and the ever-changing shifts of the company.
5. Practice how you want to describe yourself.
You are entirely uninteresting. Nobody likes talking about themselves. The people who do are usually not very likable. But the only thing worse than listening to someone boast about how great they are is listening to some self-conscious twit stammer through a wandering stream of consciousness with no direction, meaning, or enthusiasm.
We understand you know your weaknesses better than anyone, but don’t force a room of interviewers to live inside your head. It is okay – no, it’s mandatory for you to put up a polished veneer of confidence and pride in your accomplishments and qualifications.
If you’re uncomfortable focusing entirely on yourself, good. On your cover letter or in your interview, link the things you say about yourself to attributes of the company you want to work for. Be confident about who you are.
Try these tips out for yourself. The key is to use any apprehensive thoughts to your advantage, and stand out in a crowd. Will they work? What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts!
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.