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I Wish I Had More Hair. And 4 Things That You Can Actually Change to Improve Your Job Search.

When I was young, my father used to repeat a saying every time I would wish for something that simply was not going to happen. He would say, “If ifs and nuts were candy and buts, my aunt would drive a taxi.” I never knew what in the world that meant. I just knew that whatever I wished for was not coming around the corner anytime soon. Now with the benefit of an additional four decades or so to reflect, I think I finally get it.

I am pretty sure that my father was telling me that wishing and hoping are not going to get you to your destination. Instead, work hard with what you have and make it work to the best of your abilities. Wishing for things that are never going to happen is just another way to make excuses. And if you ever knew my father, you would have seen that he was not a big one for excuses.

As I build my job search coaching business here in my post-retirement life, I wrestle daily with a couple of wishes that could quickly turn into excuses. But I think of my father and that crazy aunt who never ended up driving a taxi. And I soldier on because I love what I am doing.

  • I wish I had more hair (and I looked better on video). I watch LinkedIn videos from many other career coaches. They are young, attractive, and have a warm relationship with the camera. Me and my videos? Not so much. I won’t be winning an Oscar any time soon. But I realized something about my wish. My looks, my hair, and my age are not going to change. So, I focus instead on what I can control. The content and the message that I share. And on that front, I am satisfied with what I provide.

  • I wish I had 30,000 followers on LinkedIn. News flash. I don’t and likely never will. But I realized I don’t need to be #1 in this race to the top of the LinkedIn stack rankings. Instead, I focus on those that do consume my content. And for those followers? I can help them on their journey to find that next job. And for me, that is all that matters.

So, what does this mean for you and your current job search? Wishing and hoping is not going to get you to the finish line. Work on the things that you can change to land that next job. Here are four wishes that you need to eliminate to make a difference in your job search.

The Dream Job Wish

“I wish that I could find my dream job.”

What exactly is a dream job? How are you going to know that you have found your dream job? Is it the work you are doing, the income you are making, the fit with the organizational culture, or some other factor? News flash. Throughout a 35-year career, you will likely have between 12 to 17 different jobs. Some of them you will love. And some of them you will wake up every day asking, “What am I doing here and where is the exit door?” And none of them will be your dream job. At least not forever.

No matter whether you love or hate your job, you will always take something away from the position. Experience. You might think that bitcoin is the hottest new currency. You would be wrong. Experience is the new currency of the realm, or more specifically, the job search. Experience plus measurable results weaved into exciting stories is a powerful strategy to employ on the road to the next job of your career path.

Another perspective: “Your Dream Job Is a Myth” from Slate here.

The Online Job Posting Wish

“I wish I could get an interview from job postings where I submitted my application.”

Today’s job search technology, specifically online job boards like Indeed, are both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because job sites make applying for openings relatively quick and easy. A curse because these job boards create the false impression that they represent the universe of all available jobs. And most importantly, a curse because they allow us to take the path of least resistance. It is far easier to sit behind a keyboard and submit job applications all day than it is to build a job search plan, research your targets, contact strangers, get out in the community, build a professional network and get referrals for the jobs you want.

If you focus your job search wish on the job sites and online job postings, switch that wish to play the state lottery instead. On average, every online job posting receives more than 250 applications. And of those 250 applications, 220 are never seen by a human and eliminated automatically by applicant tracking software. Thirty resumes get examined by an HR professional for, on average, 6 to 10 seconds per resume. Ten candidates get called in for a screening interview. Three people make the cut for 2nd round interviews. And one person gets the job. Your odds of buying a winning scratch-off ticket in the state lottery are better than getting an interview through an online job posting.

Another perspective: “Ten Reasons Online Job Applications Are A Waste Of Time” from Forbes here.

The Recruiter Wish

“I wish this recruiter would help me find a job.”

It seems only logical. Recruiters are searching for quality candidates to fill job openings. I’m a quality candidate. I just need to find the right recruiter, and then they will help me land my next job. If only wishes could come true. There is one problem with your recruiter wish. The recruiter does not work for you. Never has and never will. Two things. Follow the eyes and follow the money.

Look at the job search through the eyes of the recruiter. I should say exhausted eyes. Recruiting is hard work. Long hours searching the web and networks for quality candidates. Mind-numbing hours interviewing candidates asking the same questions repeatedly. I was a professional recruiter for two years early in my career. Six or more interviews every day for five days a week. Do the math. That’s a staggering number of interviews. Carving out time to help applicants find a job is not in the recruiter's job description. Placing quality candidates in front of the hiring manager is job #1.

Look at the job search through the wallet of the recruiter. Recruiters do not work for you. They work for the organization with the job posting. External recruiters get paid a commission for finding the winning candidate. Internal recruiters are measured on the number of quality candidates that they source, and performance drives salary. No part of that money flow revolves around being a career counselor for your job search.

I’m not saying to avoid recruiters in your job search process. Find the best recruiters in your geography and area of occupational focus. Work to add them to your network and demonstrate to them why you are a high-quality, marketable candidate for a position they have on their radar. But remember that they are not your best friend, your coach, or your career counselor, no matter how much you wish it to be so.

Another perspective: “Can a Headhunter Really Find You a Dream Job While You Kick Back and Relax” from The Muse here.

The Callback Wish

“I think the interview went well. I wish they would call me back.”

We have all been there. You had that interview for a job that you want at a company you like. The company was on your target list, and the position is right in your wheelhouse. You believe the interview went well. Good rapport, great conversation, and smiles all around. They said they would get back to you in a few days. It’s been a week now, and the silence is deafening. Wishing they will call back is not going to make the phone ring or the inbox ding.

Instead, take control of your destiny. I am operating on the assumption that you, by design, have already sent thank you emails to everyone you interviewed with, all within one business day of the interview. You could call and ask if they have reached a decision. That didn’t work for me when I was trying to find a date for my high school prom…and it probably will not work for you in the job search either. But I digress. Use this quiet period to take more concrete action.

Create a strategy presentation for a challenge or a problem that you discussed in the interview. Then send that plan or the presentation to the hiring manager. Indicate that you have had time to reflect on what you discussed in the interview and took some time to detail your thoughts. Then ask for time to connect again to review your presentation. At a minimum, it demonstrates your passion for the position and enables you to put your skills on display. At best, it gets you back in the door, at the front of the line, for another conversation.

Another perspective: “10 Things To Do After The Job Interview” from Forbes here.

So, there you have it. Let’s leave your wishes for your birthday cake. For the job search, focus on process and concrete actions that lead to results and landing your next job.

If you like getting your job search advice served up with an authentic voice, a dose of humility, and some popular culture, please subscribe to my AdvantEdge blog.

Dan Troup is the Managing Director of the AdvantEdge Careers coaching service. If you are interested in learning more about how a job search expert and certified career coach can assist you, please contact AdvantEdge Careers for a free initial consultation.


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