The one thing that job seekers are surprised about - but shouldn't be

The one thing that job seekers are surprised about – but shouldn’t be

After mentoring and hiring hundreds of job seekers, the No. 1 surprise response I get when I give advice on the job-search process is, “Wow, this takes so much time!”

I’m even more concerned when someone says, “I don’t have the time to put into this.”

I’m convinced there are two types of job seekers today: those who are committed and those who are hobbyists. Which one are you?

The committed job seeker (both the employee searching internally in his or her own company and the person looking at new companies) is willing to block out the appropriate amount of time, put in the hard labor required, and perform at the highest quality level. Every written and spoken word — and every action — is thought through, checked and re-checked, and meets the highest standards possible.

Here are the entry-level criteria to be considered committed:

  • Articulate your job goal in writing, and state it clearly to your network.
  • Build your job-search tools (such as a tracking spreadsheet) and use your personal productivity technology to manage follow-up.
  • Prepare your sales approach: How will you position yourself to hiring managers? What value can you offer them? How will you present yourself?
  • Research positions, companies, industries, interview answers, and more.
  • Network with precision follow-up. Build two-way relationships for the long term.

The hobbyist job seeker cuts corners, believes he or she is entitled to get a job, and tends to be the victim of others’ inadequacies. His or her work is sloppy, riddled with errors, and ordinary. The hobbyist’s excuses range from, “There is no point in doing all this research.” to “Why waste time on process when I should just be sending out my résumé?”

And, unfortunately, here are the symptoms of being a hobbyist:

  • “I’ve been applying to multiple jobs but have gotten no interviews.” Or, “There are no jobs out there.”
  • “I updated my résumé and added the right keywords. That should be enough.”
  • Spending 1-5 hours per week on the job search, thinking that’s enough.
  • Securing some phone interviews but not getting any face-to-face interviews.
  • No organized process behind the job search. Yellow sticky notes and doodles on pieces of paper don’t cut it.
  • R.A.A. (Random Acts of Application) — applying to the wrong positions based on your background and not having a clear position goal.

How do you move into the committed category? Here are three steps:

  1. Re-boot your entire job search process from beginning to end. For example, map out your weekly job-search schedule, rewrite your job goal, and refresh your résumé.
  2. Stop applying and start being smart and strategic first. Execute second.
  3. Accept the fact that the investment at the beginning of your job search will result in a speedier and better quality outcome — and a better job!

Tell me about your career challenges here; I want to hear from you!