There’s a panic reflex that hits job seekers about one second after they finally realize they are no longer employed, and it plays out like this: You hear of a job, you automatically apply; you’re offered a job, you instantly accept.
This get-it-now model of job searching makes sense on a couple of fronts. It addresses the cash-flow issue and it relieves you of the stress of looking for a rewarding job, at least temporarily.
The reflex’s missing piece: determining if this instant job is right for you.
When you’re acting reflexively, you don’t have the time or the inclination to think your situation through. The unfortunate thing for millions of people is that their careers were built this way. The formula is pretty simple: You graduate, you find “a job,” and there you stay…
Five or 10 or 15 years later, that graduate looks around and asks, “What happened? I don’t even like this place, but I’m so far into it I’m stuck!” The truth is that our graduate can change any time he (or she) chooses. But many people choose to stay.
It’s no wonder that 70 percent of the workforce is either unengaged at work or “hate” what they are doing. And a significant portion of those folks – 51 percent of the workforce – are looking for their next job.
If you’ll follow the tips in this article, you can avoid the unhappiness that has hit these people. As you move forward with your job search there are a variety of non-reflexive steps you can take to produce the best opportunity possible.
Be aware of two thoughts that will pop up as you go through the process:
- “It is taking too long to find the right job.” Look at it this way: Your period of unemployment may be several months. But compared to the length of your working career, the time you will invest in this process aimed at a quality outcome is just a blip.
- “I’ll take a lesser job.” The reasoning is that you can work this “easy” job until something “better” comes along. Almost every hiring manager is reluctant to hire an overqualified person for just that reason: they will find something else and leave. So there is little reason for them to play along. And it’s just as easy to apply for a job you want than it is for a low-wage assignment that you’ll get bored with and quit anyway.
On to finding the right job. Your action list includes the following.
The starting point for this is the online job posting. Here the company will usually provide two categories of information: the qualities they’re is looking for in a successful candidate and a list of required abilities. While the requirements list is important, it often goes overboard in the number of items it contains. You don’t have to address them all. If you can cover 70% of the key requirements you’ll be a good candidate. If you are the person they are describing in the qualities section, then apply. It’s likely that you can do the job.
There are any number of ways to research a company, from their website to Google to LinkedIn. Use them all. Also engage your contacts for additional information. Look to the company’s mission statement for a declaration of what they aspire to be. Check their website and read the press releases and investor communications, newspaper and industry publications and anything else that reports how the company behaves. If you are morally, ethically or philosophically opposed to what the company is doing, don’t bother applying.
Just imagine yourself taking the job and how it should develop over time. What projects are they working on (see their website) that you will be involved with and how will your skills be used? What knowledge and experience are you likely to acquire? How will that help you set your direction for the next 3 years? Remember that you are building a career and that’s done one job and one experience at a time.
As you prepare to pursue the right job, make a list of the knowledge, skills and abilities you hope to develop. Once you start working, and as you’re assigned to various projects, you’ll have your master list of objectives to draw from. As you complete these projects, you’ll check off the new skills you’ve acquired. This will make up your final skills inventory. Don’t be afraid to share the initial list during the interview process as abilities you’d like to develop and contribute. If they question it, the job may not be a good fit. Whatever your situation, make it a point to be actively involved in getting what you need.
Sooner or later, everyone moves on. Assume that you are leaving on your terms. What have you set yourself up to do next? Which direction will you head? This is an exercise in establishing a long-term goal and then working your way toward it. If you look at your career as a puzzle, which piece of the puzzle did this job provide?
Some lines of work are attractive for their own reasons, including commercial banking, retail and journalism. But in all of these cases they have either not recovered fully from the recession or are imploding. Many newspapers are cutting staff, adding freelancers and refocusing on online delivery. The message: Look at how your target industry is trending before you commit to it.
If you are given the opportunity to go to lunch and talk with the staff, take it. You will often hear things about the company you didn’t expect. Take what they say to heart. If they warn that senior staff is abusive, believe it. Then decide if taking the job under those circumstances is worth it.
People are motivated by progress. Everyone wants to anticipate something positive and rewarding. At work that usually includes new projects, new knowledge, new associations. Be sure you are fully informed about the staff structure and where you’ll fit now and in the future. If advancement isn’t apparent or you are told outright that the job being offered will not change, run.
Determine which skills you’d really like to develop and pursue a job based on that list. If the new job doesn’t allow using at least some of your targeted skills, then don’t take it. There may be promises to let you use those skills in the future, but you can’t count on those. Things change. New bosses are hired. Businesses are sold. Product lines disappear. And promises no longer apply. In the meantime, your skill set gets rusty until it’s no longer relevant.
People are hired to make companies money. The bottom line is the bottom line. As soon as it no longer makes economic sense to have you on the team, you’ll be gone regardless of how nice a person the owner or senior management is. So your interest really should be on the company, its business model, growth plan, client base, debt, margins, and then the owner. As long as the numbers are good, the owner and management should be happy and you should be able to focus on growing in your job.
The process of landing your next job shouldn’t be a mystery. The steps involved in getting a quality job, especially one that’s a good personal fit, depend on how your research and priorities align. Your success requires your active, thoughtful involvement because no one is watching out for you more than you.
More expert advice about Finding a New Job
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