I feel like three decades serving on the front lines of the recruiting world warrants three wishes from some sort of omnipotent job search genie, right? After some lousy years filled with skills shortages, an ocean of employer-candidate knowledge gaps, and a business climate that becomes more demanding with each passing day, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for. Well, I guess that’s why blogs exist so here it goes.
First, I wish that self-confidence didn’t require so much preparation on the job seeker’s part. In my experience, I see a lack of self-confidence destroy the career potential of so many good, hard-working Americans. I also wish the old myth, “It’s the recession’s fault,” was true. Unfortunately, the apparent discomfort people feel when called to speak about themselves in an organic and confident manner has been around as long as job interviews have. I’ve witnessed the tragic demise of careers long before bad jobs reports came into play, which leads me to conclude that it’s not the economy running amuck; it’s our natural human behaviors – plain and simple.
After “please and thank you,” we’re taught at a young age that bragging is strictly off limits. It’s rare that a day goes by without someone apologizing for trying to improve his or her professional future. The obvious problem is that, with this mindset, if you can’t speak about yourself, how can you expect employers to learn about what you can bring to the table? Here are the facts: an employer interprets a lack of confidence in a completely different way than a candidate does. Employers are like Teflon – to them, if you’re not confident telling your story, you must not be confident in your ability to do a good job. My clients also turn down these “Negative Nancys” because, in their words, “they’ll get eaten alive by their fast-paced work environment.”
Lastly, I wish more than ever that people could easily see their own potential. Everyday, candidates blame the invisible hand of the economy for their job search failures, when, in reality, they talk employers out of hiring them without even knowing it. The truth is, employers wouldn’t waste their time talking to a candidate if they didn’t see great potential in his or her background. Diminishing your accomplishments and assuming everyone else can do what you’ve done is a recipe for disaster in our highly competitive work world. It grinds my gears when I see more in the people I interview than they see in themselves.
You don’t have to become a high-energy person if that’s not really you – you simply have to be the best version of yourself. Almost all job seekers admit that they’re uncomfortable, but they resign themselves to “acting as good as it gets.” In my opinion, that’s crap. There’s no such thing as a great actor that doesn’t practice his lines, so it begs the question, why do job seekers think they don’t need to practice their interviewing skills also? Your lines should highlight your strengths and align them to the specific needs employers have. And like all things in life, the more you practice your story, the more confident and natural you sound. I promise it works, and I have plenty of success stories to prove it.
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