Let me just start with the simple truth that looking for the next gig sucks! And that is a sad truth coming from someone who enjoys change and new challenges. I believe it doesn't matter whether you are an “active” passive candidate (defined as I've got a job but am sort of looking), laid-off, fired or if you just completed a consultative/contingency gig. The whole process is painful.
The process at times is overwhelming, and complicated by the fact that in order to land the next job you are required to ask yourself some rather tough questions, such as, what am I good at or not, what do I want to do, and what am I willing to do, just to name a few. An honest evaluation of one’s strengths and weaknesses, one’s hope, sense of purpose, and career goals is not easy. In other words, to decide and then advertise one’s calling is a tall order. Add the self-imposed stressful notion that “I've got to land that next gig NOW!” The “now” is often the money or lack thereof talking, but there is more to it than that.
Over the years, I have worked and looked for work under many different scenarios. I worked at small, mid and large size companies, domestic and global. I've been a freelance designer, consultant, hourly employee, and a salary employee with all the bells and whistles. Although I was never fired, I have always hated the transitional period between gigs. I know I am not alone, and as mentioned it is not the fear of change I dread, I happen to like a new challenge, but it’s the stress of selling oneself that is the real killer.
One should think that by now, after having worked in the HR and Recruiting industry for more than 10 years, I would know what should land me a good job. But really, do you know how hard “should” is to execute? Let’s just start by mentioning the resume. What to include or not, format, font, layout and length. The resume itself is worth some serious conversation but I will leave that for another time. With all the tools out there, and all the social media hype, it is still a wonder that it can take an e-t-e-r-n-i-t-y to find the next gig.
OK, now you’re probably wondering what my definition of eternity is. 30 days! Yes, 30 days is an eternity for a job seeker. And I tell you it doesn’t matter if you are 16 going out for your first job or you are 30+ years down the career path. There is so much at stake that you are often exhausted beyond belief after the first week of searching and networking. 30 days to someone happily working is just a blink of an eye, and that is just one of the many problems any job seeker is up against. Your sense of time vs. a job seeker’s sense of time. Please don’t laugh at 30 days being an eternity. Remember, most of us live in an environment where we still believe work defines who we are and what we are made of. So much so that the job seeker puts undue stress on herself and naturally becomes her own worst enemy/barrier to landing the next gig. In my experience you've got to let go of what was, fall totally apart (that includes getting over feeling sorry for yourself and the many people you feel you are letting down), then recover and then, and only then, are you ready to go to work to get a job. Painful, painful, painful!
Here’s the thing. There are truly only two categories of job seekers, and that is very desperate or slightly desperate. Desperate are the ones with little to no resources. The second group has time, say 3-12 months in reserve, to land the right job. I have been in both camps at different times in my life, and I’m not sure that it makes a whole lot of difference on the stress level, but it might just make a big difference on the number of bad choices made in an effort to find employment. I have come to believe most job seekers do belong to category one – I need a job, and I need a job now! I have bills to pay and have my honor to preserve. That stress is what makes it so difficult for everyone involved, be they the seekers, the recruiters or the hiring managers. Desperate job seekers do desperate things regardless of the economic environment, in good as well as in bad times.
This is what I know to be true, desperate job seekers:
So what to do?
Here are a few suggestions that might help us all.
Stop to think, think to stop.
Dedicate your search to jobs you are good at and/or like to pursue – the perceived pressure from family, friends, and the kind people at the local employment service office is just that, PERCEIVED.
Select 2 or 3 job boards to work with – create a full profile and use their free service offerings. There are quite a few good pieces of advice and services to be explored.
Update your LinkedIn profile, review your Facebook posts, and Google your own name – how do you look?
Stay real and true to who you are and what you are capable of and willing to provide – do not stretch the truth and say yes to something you can’t deliver on, ever!
Let me start with these two words: job description! Please try a little harder. There must be a better way to communicate. Some job descriptions are so long on “wants” that one can only wonder if such a person even exists. And then there is a lot of this:
MARKETING/ Activities XYZ Healthcare & Rehab is a 5 star, Silver Award winning facility looking for the right person for a full- time marketer and part-time activities. Prefer long term or post acute care experience. Please send resume to www…….
This makes me think you are a really cheap operation looking for two very different positions to be filled in one nondescript ad. BTW, does a marketer really need post acute care experience?
Drop that educational requirement from your job description and ATS filter for job openings expecting 10+ years of experience in the field or related field. Think about it, most of us went to college or trade school for X and guess what? We ended up doing Y and now, after 10+ years in the field, we believe we are relevant and good at it. That is the beauty of working in the US - the country of great opportunity! Most of us tried a few different things after we received our diploma. (I’m not suggesting education doesn't matter but I think you know what I mean.) And by the way, why not specify “related field”? I bet you only have one or two in mind.
Please do turn on that automated “thank you for applying” – it feels good to hear back from you all - yes, even from the robots. It’s the least you can do after we spend 30-60 minutes to apply to your job posting preceded by an hour or so of getting the cover letter tweaked just so we appeal to your company’s needs.
One simple request. We know you are busy and you are looking for good people to help you and the company succeed. Just give us the list of must haves and only one or two nice to haves. It would make it all so much easier for both the job seeker and the recruiter.
I wish you all the best of luck finding the next gig or that perfect candidate with the imperfect resume!