Thursday, March 02, 2006

Encouragement for the Beaten-Down Job-Seeker

In an interview years ago David Brinkley asked advice columnist Ann Landers what question she most frequently received from readers. Her answer:

"What's wrong with me?"

I think Lander's answer strikes a chord with the feelings of many a job-seeker.

After weeks...months of being in the job market, enduring countless online applications (the resume' black hole), interview-after-bone-wearying-interview, and promises of returned phone calls that never happen, one...gets...tired.

Inevitably, many start to wonder, "What the heck is wrong with I a failure?"

There's no way to list all of the different reasons why people do not "get the job." I've interviewed for jobs in the past and knew without a doubt that I was the best candidate available. Why didn't I get the offer? Well, the possibilities are endless. Maybe the nod went to the person that wanted less money. Maybe they decided to go with an internal transfer that "mysteriously" surfaced after the interviews were officially closed.

I've never been unemployed for any length of time deemed "scary," so I cannot relate to the pressures faced by many of you. However, I can relate to the disappointment of not getting the job that I wanted.

If I could multiply that disappointment by 1,000, maybe then I would understand the pain associated with the pressures of prolonged unemployment.

If you happen to be in this job-hunting-funk, here's a couple of things you should keep in mind:

The tricky and often elusive piece of this thing called "job-hunting."

I have been in the recruiting business long enough to understand that "timing" is critical. Have you ever talked to a recruiter and they said, "Ahhh, I wish I would have talked to you last week - we just filled a job that would have been a perfect fit." Chances are, they weren't pulling your leg.

Recruiting is a fast-paced business. When the candidate is available that exceeds the requirements, fits the compensation structure, and has the personality and culture fit for the organization, we do not let grass grow under our feet. TIMING IS HUGE!

It's also the very reason that it pays to aggressively pursue, build, expand, and capitalize on your personal network. This point cannot be emphasized enough, but for the sake of space and short attention spans, we'll forward you to Anthony's blog on networking for later reading.

This post in not intended to be an exhaustive list of "things to do to nail your next job." But for those who keep asking the "What's wrong with me?" question, I want to provide a bit of encouragement.

Most likely, there's nothing wrong with you. We've all "failed" in this "job-search-thing" at one time or another. But those of you who will finally beat this thing will have one thing in common with the rest of us:

You will have learned to put "failure" in perspective.

Erma Bombeck suffered her share of troubles and failures. Listen to what she has to say about her life experiences:

"I speak at college commencements, and I tell everyone I'm up there and they're down there, not because of my successes, but my failures. My comedy record album sold two copies in Beirut. My sitcom lasted as long as a donut in our house. My Broadway play never saw Broadway. I had a book signing that attracted two people: one who wanted directions to the restroom, and the other wanted to buy a desk.

What you have to tell yourself is, "I'm not a failure. I failed at doing something." There's a big difference. I've buried babies, lost parents, had cancer, and worried over kids. The trick is to put it all in perspective...and that's what I do for a living."
(quote excerpt from John Maxwell's "Attitude 101")

Take heart, job-seekers.

Get in touch if you ever feel the need to talk it out. I'll do my best to help you keep perspective.


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