By Stephen Van Vreede (@ITtechExec)When I first began as a career consultant, the economy wasn’t great. Then it got better. Then it tanked. In all three scenarios, however, one thing remained the same: Job seekers were ill-prepared to conduct a job search, and it was always the economy’s fault (yes, even in a good economy!). If this market were just doing better, or if that law were passed, or if this company were more viable…I’ve heard them all (and as a small business owner, I’ve had to navigate through the very same economies).
No one understands market instability better than the entrepreneur. It is the first thing you learn right away…nothing is secure, and you better learn to roll with that. My corporate friends, however, don’t get that lesson on a regular basis and are always a little shell-shocked to find out that they are not immune to it either.
They thought they were safer in the corporate bubble.
They thought the company would take the blows, not them. After all, it seemed more deserving. (Another lesson of entrepreneurship, there’s no such thing as “deserve” and “entitle” or “fair” when it comes to markets.)
Therefore, it is no secret that most job seekers are ill prepared for their job search. They spend money in the wrong places. They pin their hopes on the wrong things. They have very little idea of what to expect (although they think they know). They try all kinds of tricks and shenanigans to make things work for them.
And then they are upset when they don’t have positive results. Or when they don’t land the career of their dreams.
I spent a great deal of time the other day trying to work with this woman in Jackson, Mississippi. She’s been searching for a job for a little less than 30 days, and she is looking for a sales position with an earning potential of about ~$150,000.
She’s frustrated. She wants the resume “fixed,” she wants the economy “fixed,” she feels victimized by her last employer, and she wants this job search over within 45 days or else…..she doesn’t know what “else” is exactly, but she really means it. It better be over in 45 days, or she is going to do something!
After talking her down off the ledge, I spent some time 1) discovering how she has been conducting her search so far and 2) figuring out where these expectations came from. As I suspected, kind of like the housing market, when people aren’t making 150% profits from their homes, then well, you tell me, is my client from Jackson just a victim of the economy:
When I explained to her that as a full-time job seeker, she should be spending 30 to 40 hours/week on her job search, she told me that there weren’t many high-level sales jobs posted in her area in Jackson each week, so there wasn’t much for her to do. Her exact words were:
“Recruiters are telling me to wait.”
Like most job seekers, networking and cold calling are foreign concepts to her. Instead, she is just planning on waiting around for that job to open up or for that recruiter to come through (within 45 days or else, of course!).
When I asked her how she was spending her 40 hours/week since now she is unemployed, she confessed that she has no idea how much time she is really spending on job search stuff. But again, there was little for her to do because Jackson, MS, doesn’t have many job postings…
When I told her the average job search time for someone making $150,000/year is about 4-6 months for ~40 hours/week of time spent searching, she simply recited to me all her stellar credentials (and why she should be an exception). And then blamed Bush (?) and the economy. When I told her that those stats are nothing new, and have been around for a while, she still blamed Bush.
Basically, no matter what I said, in her mind, if she didn’t have a job offer within 45 days, either her resume service ripped her off or it was all Bush’s fault.
So what am I to conclude here? You think maybe she is a rare case?
I’m afraid not.
Listen…is this a tough job market? SURE IT IS.
It’s a tough everything market. I don’t think that is in dispute. But tough does not mean impossible, and too many job seekers give up because they are just spinning their wheels. And most of the time, they went into the search with poor expectations, very little strategy, and no concept of personal branding in the first place. After all, it wasn’t that hard the last time they had to look…
Perhaps the oddest thing about my friend in Jackson is that, of all things, she is a sales person. She can tell you all about the sales life cycle, all about branding and product positioning, all about selling in a tough market. But when it comes to her job search, she cannot apply those same principles. She would prefer to wait as long as it isn’t too long (I’m still trying to figure out what she plans on doing on day 46?).
It never ceases to amaze me just how emotional the job search process is. It challenges you to move outside of your comfort zone and put yourself out there. Most people go into it kicking and screaming, on a good day. So as soon as there is something out there to blame, to latch onto as the reason for all our problems, we so easily take the bait.
Then what are we left with? Demotivation? Looking for that genie in a bottle?
No worries. The government is into redemption these days….in 45 days…or else!