If there’s one thing I see a lot of when it comes to today’s professional it is a tendency either to overestimate or to underestimate the job market. Either someone is telling me (in so many words) that they don’t need to try very hard to find that next gig or that the world is against them. In both cases, though, the candidate often ends up demotivated and disillusioned.
For those who think finding the next position will be easy, the demotivation and disillusionment usually come from a sense that they (a) have always had an easy time of it before, (b) they are “marketable” because they have certain credentials, and (c) a couple of people they respect have told them they should have an easy time of it. As a result, these candidates don’t think they need to do much to prepare for their job search. Personal branding sounds kind of silly to them; after all, they have the “right” credentials. And they don’t put much stock in planning for an aggressive job search. They tend to take the “I’ll toss something together and then sit back and sift through all the opportunities” approach. They don’t say it that way, of course, but their actions betray their attitude of overconfidence.
For those who think the world is against them, the demotivation and disillusionment usually come from a sense that they (a) have an obstacle such as age, gender, or work history issue that the “experts” are telling them is nearly impossible to overcome; (b) lack the “right” credentials; and (c) those around them are negative about their chances. As a result, these candidates don’t put much value in their job search. They’re going to go through whatever motions they need to, but they don’t really believe that any preparation they do will make much difference given the insurmountable odds that are against them. They tend to take the “I’m going to prove the negativity right” approach. They don’t say it that way, of course, but their actions betray their attitude of disbelief.
The market is neither a walk in the park nor a field full of land mines.
As we like to say, it is a little more of a “zoo” than that. It is both true that good opportunities are out there and that certain factors like age or credentials create obstacles. But it is equally true that despite companies saying they want top talent with all the right credentials, they often have poor hiring practices and an inability to spot this talent even when it is staring them in the face. It is also true that age and lack of credentials are two factors I see overcome everyday in the tech job market.
Although those who work in the more technical fields don’t like to admit it, the job search process is more emotional than logical. And it can be a difficult thing to separate your emotions from your approach to preparing for the market. But to make more rational decisions, you have to be careful not to overestimate or underestimate your place in that market.
Instead, it’s wiser to get sound counsel and proper preparation. Because that can make all the difference…