“My boss lied to me” or “The hiring manager never told me that” are common complaints I hear from the countless job seekers who frequent my office. My response never fails to surprise them: from their perspective, they did tell you the truth. Because most employers have been out of the job-seeking game for years and candidates can’t seem to get rid of the image of The Big Bad Wolf when dealing with one, the ability to understand each other has been compromised on both fronts.
For instance, while employers are constantly changing in order to keep up with growing demands, our tumultuous economy has caused the average job seeker to crave professional stability – the opposite of change. As creatures of habit, job seekers are all looking for a career roadmap to show them their next move and hand them the skills to get there. Blinded by the belief in the imaginary career GPS, many choose to wait around for someone to acknowledge their talent and dedication rather than take action themselves. But the path of least resistance isn’t the answer when it comes to evolving your professional future.
Because we’re biologically resistant to change, truly understanding our background, accepting our flaws, and working towards self-improvement is no easy task. Let’s face it; it’s a whole lot easier to blame the invisible hand of the economy or an iron-fisted boss for your personal and professional shortcomings. In order to step inside the mind of an employer – a potential investor in your work – it’s crucial that you remove all bias. In order to accomplish that, the first step is to get outside of your comfort zone, take a few risks, and do the research.
Get Your Head In The Game
Get an objective opinion. Consider speaking with an interested recruiter, regardless of your job situation. Understand why he or she wants to know more about your background. You’d be amazed by how much you can learn about your transferable skills and work behaviors from an outsider’s perspective.
Keep track of your interactions. Maintain an active networking spreadsheet, complete with contact information and detailed notes on each conversation (how it came about and how it transpired). By cataloguing your exchanges, you not only improve your networking skills, but you are also more equipped to pinpoint what employers are attracted to and unveil important trends. Remember, the smallest meetings can sometimes leave the biggest impressions.
Use social media professionally. Pay close attention to all the latest news in your field. Who’s being promoted and at what companies? Follow successful gurus in your industry and growth-oriented companies you’d like to work for. By doing so, you’ll get a better sense of what you need to be doing to stay competitive.
Check out indeed. This popular job search engine allows you to hone in on the necessary skills employers are looking for at your experience level, what job titles are in demand, and the hottest demographics for your industry. Ask yourself: are my skills polished and up-to-date or have I fallen behind and gotten too comfortable? As jobseekers, it’s important to know what’s out there, who’s looking, and what they want.
Change your attitude. The most important factor in landing a job today is creating your own plan of action. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but a survival plan won’t simply land in your lap. Instead of placing blame on outside forces, change what you can, stay positive, and keep moving forward. Fear is the real emotion behind career stasis. In order to overcome it, get out there, try new things and do your homework! Only you can decide to take control and own it.
We’ve created as close to a professional roadmap as it gets. Our free Job Search Toolkit will help you get your career affairs in order, polish up your resume and cover letter, and keep track of your progress. Download it today!