There are many people who go about job searching by standing in front of a job board and scanning the wall for employment. There are far more people pulling up job search websites on the computer and essentially doing the same thing; scrolling through screen after screen of various jobs. I find this perplexing and a huge waste of time, but surprisingly this is exactly the behaviour many people exhibit when they look for work. Stop doing this! It’s not a good way to find the right job!
When you stop and think about it, it’s like gambling or visiting a fortune teller isn’t it? In the few seconds immediately before you hit the job board, you had no idea what job you would find. After standing at a job board for 30 seconds or so, you really believe you’re suddenly going to have your eyes drawn to your dream job; that one job that is not only something you can do but will be with the perfect employer, paying a fair wage you’ll be comfortable with, and you’ll work in an atmosphere that matches your needs – all within a reasonable commute? Yeah, good luck with that one. It just doesn’t happen like this.
What really happens is people find jobs they could tolerate, and with no research into the company, the culture or the working conditions, they apply. Even if they get interviewed and get the job, it seldom lasts long; the reason being that once employed, the person says, “Okay I’ve gone from no job to a job that’s a poor fit for me personally, so now I start looking for a better job.” The other result I see time and time again is that the person is fired because they don’t perform well, or the person quits the second they feel they are being manipulated and asked to do things they didn’t expect. Then what do they do? They repeat the entire process and stand again in front of a job board having learned nothing. Sigh….
One of your first steps in finding meaningful work that you’ll actually enjoy doing and which you’ll do well is to evaluate your skills, education and work preferences. It’s like taking an inventory of you. Don’t scoff and say, “I don’t need to waste time doing this – nobody knows me better than me.” Without even knowing you personally, I will suggest you actually don’t know yourself as much as you claim; you should of course, but I suspect you don’t. For example, what’s your problem-solving style? What are your key work values? What style of leadership do you best function under? Give me your three top transferable skills.
So, did the answers just roll off your tongue or did you just read the questions above without really stopping to think and answer them intelligently? Is this a defensive mechanism of yours you use when you get asked questions you don’t know the answers to but don’t want to admit you don’t?
Look, if you’re used to randomly picking a job off a website or job board and sending them your standard generic resume, let me ask you how successful this has been for you in the past in getting a job that you were good at, paid you well for your time, and which you stayed at for longer than a couple of years? If it’s working for you, then by all means you’re right to continue with this strategy. On the other hand, if this method isn’t working for you, if you’re frustrated just randomly hoping the clouds will part and a sunbeam will illuminate your dream job while the sound of angels reach your ears, do something different. If you keep doing the same thing, the results you get will likewise be the same.
Write down your skills. What are the things you enjoy doing? Write them down. On a map, draw a circle of the area you are willing to work in. Would you move to take a job? If so, how attractive would the job have to be to get you to pick up and relocate? What’s your education level? Would you consider going back to school to upgrade your education if it meant you’d be better qualified to compete for jobs you really want? What would your ideal supervisor be like; hands-on or hands-off? What’s the perfect environment for you; surrounded by creative types, techies, labourers or number crunchers?
These are just some of the many questions you could and should ask yourself long before you actually start looking at jobs on a board or website. If you don’t really know who you are; your strengths, weaknesses, interests and passions, you’re going to find yourself in the wrong jobs more often than not. You really are gambling; playing hit and miss and wasting much of your life in the process, making it all the harder to find the right job by taking the time to assess yourself first.
If you’re young, do a variety of things and find out what you like and don’t like; what you’re good at and what you need to work on. No experience is wasted if you learn from it. If you’re older, take stock of what you’ve done.
Written By Kelly Mitchell