Are you being unrealistic about your job search?

Throughout the application and interview process you have remained positive and confident that it will only be a matter of time before you get that all-important job offer. Instead, you get the dreaded ‘thanks but no thanks’ letter informing you that, ‘on this occasion’, your application has not been successful. And now you find yourself continuing to send off more applications to newly advertised jobs. But, stop. If your CV is winning interviews but you aren’t getting offers – or perhaps your application never gets that far – then take a step back and consider the reason why; you may; find that you are applying for positions where you don’t match the requirements.

According to a recent European-wide survey conducted by Stepstone resourcing specialists, almost half of all job seekers feel that employers are unrealistic in their job specifications and will apply for jobs even if they don’t actually meet the requirements of the advertised position. And, 30 per cent will submit an application even if they only meet half of the conditions for the job. It is not surprising, therefore, that many applications are rejected at the first step of the recruitment process. So, if you are looking to change your job or your career, then you need to take a step back and consider if you are being realistic about your job search.

Self-assessment

Understand the reasons why you are looking to change your job in the first place. What are your values, interests, skills, experience and personal goals? What are your key strengths? What can you offer a prospective employer and, does your current level of experience and expertise meet the demands of the jobs for which you are applying? Research the area of work that you want to move into thoroughly and learn as much about it – and yourself – as possible.

Self-assessment is a time-consuming process. But taking the time to reflect on where you are going and what you want out of your career will pay off in the long term, providing invaluable information to facilitate career decisions and enable you to market You PLC more effectively. Be brutally honest with yourself and your capabilities. This will enable you to identify the areas that you may need to make improvements through learning new skills, taking a training course or simply to gain more experience in order to be successful in successfully obtaining the job that you want. Henry Ford once said: “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” So, once you have identified your skills and talents, think about how you can use these in the role you are seeking and highlight them as much as possible so that your potential new employer does not feel that they are taking a risk on hiring you. And it is important to remember that “Your job hunting success is in direct proportion to your job-hunting effort,” according to Richard Bolles, author of What Colour Is Your Parachute? “The more you try, the more hours you put into your job-hunt, the more likely it is that you will find the job you are looking for”. 

Dip your toe first

If you are passionate about working in a particular field or working in a specific role but lack the necessary requirements, you can pursue your goal from the sidelines. Satisfy your craving to do something different by going on secondment or offering yourself up for work experience. “The reason people resist this strategy is that they feel they’re setting themselves up to do more work without being paid for it,” say Arlene Hirsch, author of Love Your Work and Success Will Follow. “That’s short-sighted. If the skills you learn really are marketable, you can launch your new job from it,” she adds.

Talk to as many people as you can who are actually doing the job that you want and find out everything there is to know about the role. If you don’t, then you may be bitterly disappointed if you find that all your hard work, additional training, research and preparation has all been in vain when you realise that the career you so eagerly sought is not right for you. And if you are looking to secure a position in a highly coveted industry such as Public Relations or Fashion, look beyond the Burston Marstellar’s and Prada’s and be original in your approach. 

Join the industry’s trade association (using the example above, such as the Chartered Institute of Public Relations), attend their seminars and conferences and use these as an opportunity to network with people who already working in the role that you want for yourself. Attendees will be more welcoming and will spend more time talking with you because there is that connection.

Don’t forget that, at any given time, about 80 per cent of all available jobs are unadvertised and the power of networking cannot be underestimated. Therefore, prepare your ‘elevator pitch’ – have a mental summary prepared of who you are, what you do and what key thing you want people to know about you i.e. what would make people remember you? After all you only get one chance to make a first impression.

Finally

We are told that looking for a new job is a full-time job in itself. And, your job hunt is a numbers game with the more ‘No’s’ you get moving you closer to that all-important ‘Yes’. But it is important to be honest with yourself and only apply for the positions that you feel confident to success in. To quote Henry Ford, “if you think you can or think you can’t , you’re probably right.”

Paul MacKenzie-Cummins, director MacKenzie-Cummins Communications – leading the way in cost-effective PR for the recruitment industry.

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About yourcareermatters
CareerMatters was founded as part of MacKenzie-Cummins Communications in 2006 by Paul MacKenzie-Cummins MICG (Member Institute of Careers Guidance), regarded as one of the UK's leading career's advice and guidance writers and specialist PR consultant for the UK recruitment industry. Since 2006 Paul has been the leading advice writer for Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com - the two biggest careers website in the world -tackling all aspects of workplace and management issues, job seeking, career change and hiring trends. In 2006, 2007 and 2008 his writing contributed to Monster winning the Best Employment Advice on the Internet Award for an unprecedented three times beating the likes of The Guardian, Learn Direct and Personnel Today on each occasion. And his work was a runner-up for the same award in 2009. In 2009 Paul was a nominee in the prestigious HR Journalist of the Year Award and Recruitment, Retention & Motivation Journalist of the Year Award. Paul has been commissioned to write more than 500 careers advice and guidance articles for a number of lpublications, from regional and national newspapers to industry publications and various career-specific websites in the UK and USA. Recently, Paul was the Technical Editor for career psychologist Dr Rob Yeung's Job Hunting & Career Change for Dummies (John Wiley & Son, 2007). Dr Yeung is better known as the TV psychologist for Channel 4's Big Brother and the BBC's Who Would Hire You? series. Clients include: Monster.com CareerBuilder.com MSN Careers (Europe) TheLadders TotalJobs SalesTarget.co.uk IntaPeople Recruitment Lifetracks/YouthNET MediaSalesJobs The Press Gazette

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