If I could bestow one gift on all job seekers, it would be the wisdom to avoid the most common job search blunder I see – not being focused and clear on what they want their next job to be and not sharing that with their network.
Figuring out what job you want and can do is NOT your network’s job to do for you. That is YOUR job to do for your network!
Where’s “the Beef”?
Frequently, when I ask a job seeker what s/he wants, I hear:
- A job.
- A salary.
- A paycheck.
- To retire.
I knew that the job seeker wanted a job - that’s why I asked. So, I either try digging deeper, if I have the time, or I give up. Opportunity lost.
Or, when I ask a job seeker what s/he wants to do, I hear:
- Anything. (Seriously?)
- I don’t care. (Seriously?)
- Find a job. (No kidding!)
- Collect a paycheck. (No kidding!)
Again, I am trying to find out how I could help when I asked that question. Those responses might be the first things that pop into the job seekers head, but do these answers give me any clues about how I could help? Very doubtful! Again, opportunity lost!
What real jobs, opportunities, or contacts do I think of when I get those responses?
- No one.
As you can tell, those vague answers do not give the job seeker’s network anything (a.k.a. “the Beef”) to sink their teeth into, any really meaningful information so they can help the job seeker.
Usually, when I try to get something more concrete from the job seeker, they don’t really know because they haven’t thought about it. Or they haven’t thought enough about it. So, they toss out their last job title as the job they want, whether or not they really do want it. At least that’s a starting point, but not a very good one or very complete.
Your Job: Help Your Network Help You!
Your contacts want to help you, but they can’t see inside your head to see what job you are looking for. Even if they have known you for your whole life, they probably don’t know the kind of work you enjoy the most. If someone who has known you for that long doesn’t know what you want to do, how could a relative stranger know?
- Take the time to figure out what you want to do.
Focus on just one or two jobs that seem to have good futures, that you are qualified to do, and that you actually want to do.
- Pull together a list of employers you would like to work for.
Hopefully, they’re local or have a local office, but also do research to find employers people seem to enjoy working for, that are financially stable, and that seem to have a good future (so you won’t be job hunting again too soon).
- Develop a 15-second and a 30-second description of each of those jobs.
Use the 15-second description in general conversations (when asked!) or when introducing yourself to a group. Use the longer-version in one-on-one conversations or job search networking events.
A 15-second description looks like this:
“I’m looking for a bookkeeping position in the accounts receivable, accounts payable, or credit departments of a wholesaler or distributor like Company X, Company Y, and Company Z. A similar medium-sized, profitable, business-to-business organization with $20m and up in annual sales in MetroWest or Central Massachusetts would be interesting, too, if you know of any I haven’t mentioned.”
Also develop a 30-second description which provides more detail and includes a summary of your qualifications for the position you want.
Both descriptions demonstrate that you have actually spent some time and energy developing your your job description and your choice of employers. They also solicit more information even if your contact doesn’t have any contacts with one of your named target employers.
Then, when someone asks you what you are looking for, you can tell them! It will be enormously helpful to your network. Which means it will be enormously helpful to you!
Don’t worry about “being flexible” or “keeping my options open.” Mostly, you end up looking a bit like an idiot when you are so unfocused, and you will waste important opportunities which could have lead you straight to a new job. Focus for job search success!
Clicking on a link opens a new page:
- 10 Ways to Tell if Your Job Search is a Joke, @careerealism
- April Fool’s Day – Who’s Fooling Who?, @MartinBuckland @EliteResumes
- If It’s Not You and It’s Not True, You’re Fooling Yourself, @GayleHoward
- Don’t Kid Yourself! (The Person You See in the Mirror is a Good Hire), @chandlee
- Avoiding the Most Common Blunder, @jobhuntorg
- Are you fooling yourself? Bored at work? Is it your own fault?, @keppie_careers
- Hey, Job Seeker — Don’t Be a Fool!, @resumeservice
- Job Search Is No Joking Matter, @careersherpa
- Is Your #Career in Recovery or Retreat? (All Joking Aside), @KCCareerCoach
- 9 Ways You Might Be Fooling Yourself About Your Job Search, @heatherhuhman
- Don’t get tricked by these 3 job search blunders, @LaurieBerenson
- Trying to hard to be nobody’s fool?, @WorkWithIllness
- It’s not all about you, @DawnBugni
- Mirror ‘their’ needs, not ‘your’ wants in #jobsearch, @ValueIntoWords
- Stop Fooling Yourself about your Job Hunt: Things you may be doing to sabotage yourself – @erinkennedycprw
- Same as it ever was – @walterakana
- Don’t be fooled. Avoid these – @kat_hansen
- Job Seekers: You Are Fooling Yourself If...@barbarasafani