Yesterday, I shared with you how to know if you hate your job even if you don’t realize it yet. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you go back and give that a read before diving into this email because sometimes the order matters (P.E.M.D.A.S anyone? Side note: I heard some people don’t even call it that anymore. What is BODMAS?! I’m so old now.) Anyway, back to the topic at hand.
Today’s post – as the headline suggests – is for the people who already realize they don’t want to rot in their current position (unemployed or unhappily employed) but are struggling to figure out how to excel at job searching.
So what makes a job search successful?
Finding a job better than your previous position should be the most basic requirement of a job search. A better, more comprehensive definition has to account for your ability to succeed once you accept that new job offer. Both seem simple yet people fail time and time again meet either requirement. It’s not for lack of trying so much as it is from a lack of guidance.
So why is it that people are so bad at finding jobs?
The cause of people sabotaging their job search boils down to one of two factors: 1) bad advice or 2) no advice at all. That’s why I decided to write Corporate Ladder University, which I’ll talk about more a little later.
Bad career advice usually falls into one of the following source categories impacting new and experienced job seekers alike:
1. College career service center focused on every graduate finding a job, any job
Bless their hearts but college career counselors do little to prepare job seekers for long-term success in the workplace or share guidance on how to assess job/company fit. In fairness, maybe that’s not their mandate since colleges get ranked more on the job placement of their graduates. That doesn’t colleges shouldn’t weight long-term success more heavily than they do, but that’s a post for a different time.
2. Third party headhunters desperate to fill roles
Did you know that headhunters can make 30% of your salary as a commission for placing you at a firm? I can recall on several occasions having conversations with headhunters and giving specific requirements on salary and job descriptions but being presented with roles that made zero sense based on our discussion. I know many people who have had positive outcomes with headhunters, but to this day I rarely interact with third party recruiters based on those experiences I had.
Incentives drive behavior and no incentives exist for headhunters to place you in a long-term role. In fact, you can easily make an argument that they should want you to change jobs fairly consistently, so they have another opportunity to collect the 30% bounty for placing you.
3. Professional career coaches who never have been on the business side
There’s a $2 billion market for life coaches ($14b career counseling). As with anything else, some coaches and consultants are better than others providing job search help, and the mediocre far outnumber the highly skilled.
You need to understand nothing says, “I get you” better than a coach letting a person (namely you) know they walked the exact same path and sat in the exact same seat. So, like college career centers, many professional career coaches can help you land a job but can’t support you understanding what it takes to keep that job or improve your position because they’ve never actually done it themselves.
4. Misguided parental advice on college
One of the hardest things about being a parent is balancing doing what’s right for your kids with what you know will make them happy. You know, like my two kids love ice cream but I know it’s not the best idea for them to go on a diet that consists of ice cream for every meal.
Unfortunately, no official parenting manual exists and not all parenting issues have such an obvious answer. Giving advice on what to do in college is one of those cases. Deep down inside every parent knows there is such a thing as a crappy major – one with poor odds of finding gainful employment after college. Many can’t or don’t want to admit their child won’t be the exception to the rule.
Once you take into account the natural tension that exists with trying to convince a college-aged kid to do *anything*, you have a recipe for an oversupply of philosophy majors entering the workforce with no idea what to do with themselves.
That may sound mean, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
How to do job hunting the right way
There are three channels you can use to find your next position: professional network (especially Linkedin), alumni network, career coach who used to be in your field. You can use one or any combination of the the three to get the job done. These are the best ways to know what skills a job requires. You can use this information to focus on the skills you want to highlight in your resume or cover letter or you can use this information to go and develop the skills you need to chase your dream job.
I simplified that quite a bit because writing an email to get that support could be a lesson in itself, let alone creating an impactful resume. Let me know if you want me to get into those details in another post but for now, look for a post from me tomorrow on how I doubled my income by taking an impromptu trip to New Orleans. You won’t want to miss it.