I hear this all the time on the various message boards that I read through every week:
- People are not hiring these days.
- Every time I apply for a job I get turned down but not told why.
- I am too old and don’t see the value in going back to school to get more knowledge and get more work.
- I am tired of having to deal with rejection.
- All the jobs seem to be going to the younger people.
These are all false.
Stop whining and start whining.
Yes, I will admit that it is tougher than it used to be. The days of the IT booms are over. Too bad, so sad, write a letter and get over it. There is no more get rich quick things happening. Well, there are a few, but not as many as there were.
Finding a job these days is NO different than it was 10 years ago, 20 years ago, etc, there are simply less jobs and more people, but the concept is the same.
- Have the skills needed to fill a position
- Find a position to fill
- Get the job
- Prove value
From here on in it is simply a ‘lather, rinse and repeat’ methodology for life.
The first one, having the skills, requires that you make a commitment. You have to know what you want to do, what makes you passionate about a role and a job, and then know what you need to do to get from where you are now to where you want to be, and then go do it. You also have to keep your eyes open to the fact that as you grow and get educated things can change so you need to be able to change too.
Deal with it. Life moves fast today anyou will be required to also. You may start out to get a degree that qualifies you to be an IT architect in a specific field that is hot when you first begin, but after two years a completely new field opens up and you suddenly see an opportunity. Do you just muddle along, wait until you are done with your degree and apply?
<The tune to Jeopardy plays here>
The answer is ‘what is the word NO’ Alex.
You apply for that job NOW, show that you are actively working towards gaining your degree in the field that will help them achieve their goals in this new area, and explain how you can help them achieve their required needs because you understand what it takes to be flexible, know how to identify new opportunities, learn fast, stay agile, and most of all, make changes when you need to. Show how, while you may not have a 100% fit for the jobs stated requirements, that you are showing the constant ability to learn and adapt, and that you can assure them that what you may not know today you can research and learn quickly. After all, in today’s markets, no one can say that they know everything and the one true attribute of a successful person is the ability to know what they don’t know today and learn it for tomorrow.
Find some jobs
Finding a position to fill is easy. Search, search, search, and then search some more. Talk, ask, email. Every company has a job available, a need to fill, a want that needs to be overcome. Some companies are open about them, some are not.
As George Carlin used to say…
Your job? Find them
Find the opportunities. Don’t let them come looking for you. By the time a job is posted to the Internet chances are that the company has already interviewed a few people and are now looking outside their sources to get it filled. Now you are in a battle against all the others out there that also need work. The key is to not wait for a position to show itself. Go looking to find them. Send out resumes to companies that are not necessarily posting job openings right now. Create your own job opening. Send a letter to an HR department or even find some names in the department where you would be interested in working and send a letter asking about something specific to their industry and how they are addressing it. Ask them if they feel that the processes they are using now are gaining them the true value that they feel they need or should be getting, and then give some hints on how you think you may be able to do things to help change. In other words, sell yourself. Show that you can think on your own, that you have some foresight, that you understand how to identify possible opportunities for change and then that you have given some thought as to how to effect that change.
The next step is to apply for some jobs. It sounds easy, and it is. You just go out, fill in applications, and leave a copy of your resume right?
<The tune to Jeopardy plays here>
The answer is ‘what is the word WRONG’ Alex.
The process does not stop there. You do NOT leave that office without having the opportunity to do one thing. You have to at a minimum get an opportunity to shake the hand of the person requiring the application; be that the posting officer in HR or the CIO of the company that needs a position filled. Just like a sales person never leaves without getting a contact to hand their card to, an applicant (IE: personal sales representative) never leaves without getting to know the person they will need to talk to at some point in the future. This leads you to an opportunity to accomplish the next step.
Impress the heck out of someone
This one is a bit of a tough area because it takes some work.
The work is called ‘due diligence’ and is the part of every business transaction there is. Whether you are applying for a job at a company, or looking to buy a company, it is your responsibility to KNOW about the company. If you ever go in for a job interview and have not:
- Looked up the company on Linked In
- Looked up the backgrounds of the companies upper management on Linked In
- Reviewed a company’s financials at a very high level using government mandated financial reports
- Looked up a companies stated goals and objectives for the next year
- Looked into who a company’s competition is and what they are doing differently
Then you do not know the company well enough to talk intelligently to anyone that works there about why YOU should be hired, what you can provide then to solve a problem, create an opportunity, save them money, or be effective in any way.
Just like a company goes through a process every year with existing employees and asks ‘what have you done for me lately’, they also want to know form all potential new hires ‘what can you do for me today, tomorrow, and next week’. In fact, I would be willing to ask them if there is something that they could need some help with right now. Give them a freebie. If you have done some investigative work ahead of time and know that one of their competitors is going in direction ‘A’ and they have chosen direction ‘B’ instead, ask them if they have considered possible conflicts or some specific needs to do that. Maybe if you come up with direction ‘C’ as a possibility and it ends up being the answer you could end up being a hero. Even if they don’t use it, chances are that they may remember that you had discussed it with them.
Ah, so they called for the interview. Be prepared again and do more research because I can guarantee you that the questions are going to get harder now. Do not JUST let them interview you either. Be ready and willing to ask them questions. Ask them questions about how they expect you to be able to handle specific situations, or if they have standardized methodologies to approach solving problems that they find, and if so why did they select that method over method ‘X’, ‘Y’, or ‘Z’. Remember, an interview is a two way street. It’s a first or second date between you and the employer where you are both trying to assess the attitude, intelligence and mindset of the other side. Do NOT be shocked if, after YOU ask some prudent questions and get answers that YOU may find that YOU don’t really like the position, people or company that YOU applied for. You want a really interesting interview result? Ask some very prudent questions and then, if you really don’t like the answers, stand up, shake the hands of everyone in the room, and explain that you don’t feel that they would be a good fit for your opportunity and wish them luck in finding someone that feels that they would be a good employer fit for them. Yes, I am suggesting that YOU consider cutting an interview short if you really don’t feel that the employer is a good fit for YOU. You might find out that it severely changes the state of the interview and that you may actually end up showing some greater value along the way and being asked to stick around and continue.
Work work work work work
Ok, so you got the job now. Now what? Do it. The interview process was not an acting job; it was supposed to be a true reflection of who you are, how you think, how you act, and what value you can provide, so keep doing it. Be ready, willing and able to ask the tough questions in meetings. Be willing to play devil’s advocate when things need to get done. Be willing to contribute in the hairy situations, take that step forward before everyone else takes that step back. Stand out in a crowd. Be open and honest but also logical and reasonable. Be willing to listen, accept, discuss, compromise, push when needed and be pushed when needed. Be flexible but firm, and willing to accept change that comes and propose change that needs to be proposed, even if it may be unpopular. I could write an entire book here on employee attitude but I don’t have the time. Just get things done that are critical to a company’s long term survival and you will become a well-liked person in an industry.
You are worth how much?
Honestly, expect to get paid what you are worth. Over the long term, even a fun job can get boring and to be frank and honest, money is money. Compensation is compensation, and no matter how nice you play with management, always understand that when push comes to shove, money makes the world go around. Cost of living raises, but if the work done by you is effective and as good as you think, you should expect to be compensated accordingly, and if the company is not willing to do that then consider what needs to be done. Am I saying that you HAVE to leave? No. Maybe you are at a point where you are happy now just being there doing your job, and as long as your employer is there too then I guess its ok. But consider the fact that things in all industries change fast, and that if you are ABLE to just ride along now and not have to work hard, keep learning, keep changing, continue to solve new problems or adding new value, then maybe something is happening. Maybe the company is losing its focus in the market and you might find that you are no longer working for an industry leader. Maybe YOU are losing focus and getting bored with a specific market segment and need to identify a new business path to keep you fresh and effective. Maybe the market you are in has slowed down and is being overcome by a newer technology and your current employer does not see it coming. Either way, there are ways to judge how much you should be making, use them, There is nothing more depressing than looking back at your pay history and seeing a flat line that just clears the national average. Work equals pay, be sure you are getting paid for what your work is worth. Otherwise, why work?