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Why I’m Uber-Frustrated

January 15th, 2009

Like many of you, I’m getting a lot of calls and emails from people looking for help finding their next job.

Either they have been in a job search for a long time, or they are new to the job search, or they think they will be in a job search soon… it seems to be the season to be unemployed or know a dozen professionals who are unemployed.

I never went through this – at least during my own fruitless job search I was one of a handful of unemployed people, whereas now it seems to be in fashion (not by anyone’s choosing).

I’m quite frustrated.  Not because of the economy, recession or influx of job seekers.  I’m frustrated because I can’t tell people what they should do to land their next job.  So many people will hear the advice, but really, all they want is the silver bullet.

All I wanted was the silver bullet.

Don’t give me lists of things to do… just tell me that one thing I’m not doing (or doing wrong) so I can find my next job.  That’s all I wanted.

I’d like to tell people the answer is in networking.  But that’s usually a long-term strategy.  And long-term is not silver bullet.

I want to tell people they need to work on their personal brand and their googleability.  But that’s also a long-term strategy, and won’t matter if no one is googling them.

I want to tell people to get on LinkedIn, but once you are there, there’s work to do to really use it in a job search, and it’s not a silver bullet.

I always tell people to check out JibberJobber, but it’s not for everyone.  And while it can give you peace of mind in your job search as you track and manage all the data you start to collect, it isn’t going to reach out through your monitor with a job offer.  And that’s what many people want.

So I’m left, with all kinds of advice, some great, some long-term, some more along the lines of career management… and people look at me with that pleading look… where’s the silver bullet?

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28 Responses to “Why I’m Uber-Frustrated”

  1. Karin H. says:

    Hi Jason

    Silver-bullet = quick fix = impossible I’m afraid. Like in business getting more sales, more prospects, more quote requests, more referrals, more testimonials. You can’t get it fixed in one day – it takes time but most of all:
    IT TAKES TAKING ACTION TODAY.

    Now that’s something everyone can do today, get off your backside and start implementing all the advice you so kindly and generously give them for free. If they hear you and respect you that’s the best thing they can do to ‘reward’ the giver.

    Rant over

    Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  2. Jason…

    I know – I know. I’ve got the same “problem” with client who want to market their businesses.

    Marketing your small business isn’t all that different from marketing yourself in a job interview.

    Everyone wants a silver bullet or magic pill. As a “marketing professional” I’m constantly torn between “good marketing” (a.k.a. TELLING people what they want to hear) and “ethical marketing” (telling people what they NEED to hear).

    Trust me -selling silver bullets is a LOT easier than selling the rifle.

  3. Jared Degnan says:

    As always, you find a really interesting way to bring voice to what’s in many people’s heads. I would say, however, not to discount the value of even being able to offer advice…it’s huge.

    A silver bullet would be great but many times job seekers are just looking for affirmation that they are headed in the right direction. Somewhere, most of us know that the raw truth is that success in a job hunt is a combination of being in the right place, at the right time and with the right level of preparation.

    In that way, the silver bullet isn’t a single piece of advice or a single direction people should go in – it’s raw intent. If you’re intent on finding the right job; the people you turn to for advice, like you and your blog, are what keep you going. And for that, Jason, we are very appreciative.

  4. Hi Jason,
    GREAT post – and it resonates! I was just thinking what Karin H. replied, so I echo her sentiments. I’m a HUGE believer in traction – and the Nike phrase, “just do it.” I don’t claim a silver-bullet service (my specialty is executive resume writing, branding and ‘story telling’). So, when consulting with clients (the # of inquiries are exploding this month), I can offer one or more prongs of the solution to a multi-pronged approach, but I cannot offer the silver bullet. No one can, and if they purport or infer they can, then run! There are many essential ingredients to a successful job search strategy. Bottom line, don’t be daunted by them, but take a bite-size, actionable approach to ‘eating the elephant.’ (mixing my metaphors here).

    At the same time, don’t taint the process by abbreviated and sloppy communications and/or full-of-fear and urgency career search initiatives. Take a deep breath and conduct a quality and effective search. Do what you can today; defrag your mind every night; review what you’ve done the next morning, adjust where you feel you need, and keep moving. There will be some pain, but continued growth and movement along the way if you stick to your guns – guaranteed.

  5. Lisa Kelly says:

    Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet. It is uber-frustrating. There isn’t just one thing you can do to win the job. It’s a combination of many things. Then there is luck. Or karma. Or being at the right place at the right time. Whatever you wish to call it.

    Certainly, having a quality resume, working your network, expanding your network, asking for help, tracking in JibberJobber — all those things help.

    The most important thing you can do is keep your psyche healthy. Exercise more than you normally do — even if you don’t feel like it! Refrain from drowning your sorrows in drink — the sorrows will be even more pronounced the next day. Read books that uplift your spirit. Listen to podcasts that energize you. Turn off the news. Stay away from people who want to talk about ‘how bad the economy and job market is.’

    All this might sound trite, but it really works. Try it!

  6. Randi Bussin says:

    Great post and boy do I see the same thing with job seekers. Perhaps the silver bullet is an attitude adjustment (get rid of the negative thinking!!!!), a shot of confidence and reality check on the timelines. Sometimes a kick in the butt helps too-that is Karin’s get off your backside.
    My 2 cents for what it is worth!
    Randi

  7. I too know lots of friends looking for new jobs. Excellent people, with lots of experience, but also with a certain measure of anxiety and sometimes desperation. I try to refer as many as I can, to share what insight I’ve gained from my own job search. But the market is getting such that you can do all the right things and still remain unemployed.

  8. Paloma - JibberJobber.com says:

    The Silver Bullet is Knowledge.

    KNOW:
    1. ~Who to seek advice from. Typically we seek the advice we want to hear not what we need to hear.
    2. ~How to make good decisions. Find the correct information (there is lots of it out there) – measure it with the criteria and outcome you desire and then make decisions that will influence your actions.
    3. ~The way you cope with a difficult situation. There are a myriad of reasons why people never learn to cope is a way that is beneficial. Find out what is stopping you and get help to correct it.
    4. ~How to organize. It will help you in every area of your life. Not everyone is a list maker. Find a style that works for you and use it.
    5. ~How to use the tools that will help you. JibberJobber is your number one tool as it will help you to know what and how to use the other tools needed.
    6. ~That doing one thing differently or adding one new thing into your life in easy – doable increments will change your outcome drastically. Do I need to say JibberJobber One Thing Blog?
    7. ~How to be kind to yourself. You cannot give from an empty well. The best motivation comes from within. There is a reason they call it ‘Self’ Esteem.
    8. ~How to build a Team. Obtain a support group, listen to them, and let them help you.
    9. ~How to help others. It will repay itself to you exponentially.

    KNOWLEDGE + ACTION = SUCCESS

  9. Last night, I was talking with a friend, and we started theorizing that searching for a job is a lot like dating. Basically, the more desperate you are, and the more you want it to happen, the less likely it will.

    Basically, I think networking is the silver bullet, but it’s something you have to start long before you need it. I’ve been building a friendship/relationship with one of my dream companies for the last year and a half, and it’s only now starting to pay off.

    It just takes lots of continuous effort, and time. Which is really too bad for everyone who needs a job now!

  10. Matt Singley says:

    I think the only silver bullet is having a personal friend that can introduce you to a decision maker. Other than that, work is required. Even the well thought out list above from Paloma requires work. Nothing wrong with that at all. Once a person realizes that they need to pull themselves together and hustle a bit, it gets easier. Get off your ass and work on the list you mentioned in the post….network, increase your googleability and get seen on social networks. It’s a time consuming process, but it pays off.

  11. Trust me I’m sympathetic. I’ve got way too many unemployed friends and co-workers.

    They’d like a silver bullet, but truth be told *I* want one more than anything since it’s damn hard to tell them what to do to make it work.

    Ultimately the “Silver Bullet” I find is an integrated life, job search, and career. Stay aware of your industry, always network, help others out in your network, and keep evolving. Not a Silver Bullet so much as a Silver Process. The Bullet of No Bullet as it were.

  12. Rich says:

    The Bullet of No Bullet, I like that. :-)

    Not much I can add–I’m not in the field of career counseling or recruitment, I’m lucky enough to have a job (though immensely frustrated in the attempt to find another one), and the one person I’m close to who is unemployed doesn’t especially want my advice. But I would say that any piece of good counsel may be of no use to one person, at a particular time, but invaluable to that person later or to someone else now. The chances of One Great Idea being Just What I Needed to Land the Perfect Job Now are, oh let’s say a little better than my chances of winning the lottery, but not a whole lot. But if one good idea shortens my job search by three days, and another one brings me to the attention of a better class (for me) of prospective employers than I would have encountered otherwise, and still another turns up a contact that turns into a fruitful professional relationship … well, then, collectively all those good ideas have done me a lot of good. I may never know how much good. I almost certainly won’t know in advance.

  13. Janice says:

    ‘Networking’ means something entirely different to the many people who have not had to look for a job in a very long time. Their ‘network’ consists of their past clients and business associates. There was a time when that would have been sufficient as a place to start. Unfortunately for very experienced jobseekers, they are having to learn a completely new business before they can even begin to look for a new job.

  14. Rich,

    The “Bullet” really is a lifestyle. Thats one of the things that makes the ultimate difference – putting all the elements of your life in order to make sure job, career, skills, plans, loves, etc. all tie together.

    I’ve been doing some speaking on the subjects lately and it’s interesting to see how people light up with just a few suggestions.

  15. Hey Jason,

    I think the silver bullet is really everything that you are already doing, but because people don’t have enough patience they don’t see that by following all the best practices and doing all the right things the job will come.

    I don’t believe there is a secret trick or magic silver bullet that will get someone a job. I believe there are a number of factors that all have to come together at the right time and place.

    Lately I’ve done a lot of research on job and career resources for my video show The Web Mix at thewebmix.com and there may be some value in my newest episode for people who read this blog.

    Getting a job is no easy task but I think that if people your advice and the advice of other career professionals then when the right job is available they will get it.

    So, don’t get too frustrated about it.

    Take Care,
    Jason

  16. Jason,

    After I read your post, I found this link in my inbox from a member of an HR networking group I run. It’s not about job search per say…it’s about something much bigger than that, but I think the message will resonate with job seekers looking for a quick fix.

    http://www.maniacworld.com/are-you-going-to-finish-strong.html

  17. QuestingElf says:

    You could also try to look for a silver bullet in the flip side of seeking employment, i.e., hiring. Is there one there?

    Reality is if you were to look at how so many employers try filling a position, so much of it is unexplainable. This is especially true when you realize how many employers can’t clearly articulate what’s required to succeed in a position. When a position finally does get filled, you’ll many times hear them defend their choices with words that represent more of gut feeling or that of going with someone they knew or another type of tie that’s slightly weaker. It’s rarely nailed down to a precise set of skills and qualifications, especially when you have those who like using words that don’t reveal much like “fit.”

    If you’d like to launch an interesting project, do in fact track how and when people get hired. Then for the real reverse engineering question, ask the question Why, Why did they get hired? Sure, you’ll hear the formal reply. Occasionally you’ll hear the real answer like “He could BS better and that’s what we needed” or “He likes airplanes like I did.” Many times, employers have no idea why they do the things they do, including hiring.

    So since job hunting is a numbers game, you try many things. Then when the press calls, you invent the story that sounds rational, just like when you present numbers to make your case to those who insist logic above all else.

  18. Jason,

    I think the “magic bullet” is motivation. If a job seeker hasn’t kept up a network and isn’t ready to go at the drop of a hat, it does not mean that there is no hope. Taking the keys and driving your own career bus takes a willingness to do what it takes, to seek and follow solid advice and to move forward instead of wishing that things were different.

    It’s never too late!

  19. I think motivation is a good “silver bullet” candidate, but to pound the metaphor into the ground, the motivation is the gunpowder. You can be motivated and not have skills or knowledge, or unmotivated and have such things. Motivaion is something needed to propell things forward.

    I have run into an astounding lack of motivation on peoples parts – and whats odd is they dont KNOW they’re not motivated. Real, from-the-gut, intrinsic motivation is not something everyone is used to.

  20. [...] freelance writers/artists, and developers anyway, it’s really bad advice for anyone who has just lost his job and doesn’t have a blog [...]

  21. There is no such thing as a silver-bullet when conducting a job search. There are plenty of things one can do to optimize their job search, but as far as finding something that will be the “end all, be all” it’s next to impossible. There are a few things to increase your chances though.

    1. Always send thank you notes. Even better if they are hand-written as opposed to via e-mail.
    2. Keep in touch with your “network”. Many people get a business card and throw it in a box never to be seen again. Keep your network updated on your business and personal statuses and develop those relationships.
    3. You will get discouraged, keep your head up.

    Good Luck all,

    The McKinley Group, Inc.

  22. QuestingElf says:

    Motivation is typically presented as something that you either have or you don’t, that it only comes from within you.

    Then I heard another take on the subject. Is it possible that motivation can lie outside of us too? Yes it can. You better believe it. In fact, that’s some of what this blog entry on education is all about. And motivation outside of you is what can really propel both your desire to learn and the drive to look for work.

    The form that external motivation takes is called your “environment.” Where you are working makes a tremendous difference in your motivation. If you’re working for a boss and company who don’t value your input, you’re not as likely to produce good things and productive output. Contrast that with a place where you are respected, recognized and rewarded (especially with money.)

    This is why when I hire I don’t pay too much attention to the motivation of an individual. I’ve seen and known plenty of people who were motivated, they just didn’t work in companies and places where their kind of motivation was welcome, accepted or nurtured. Plenty of people can do a lot, they just need the right environment to produce it.

  23. QuestingElf says:

    I’d also like to add/modify one thing I just said. The one thing I really don’t pay much attention to regarding a person’s motivation is their history. There’s too many people who don’t have the killer resume simply because they weren’t at the right place at the right time. If there is a motivation I do look at, it is the present kind, i.e., what are they willing to do for me now. I long for a time where resumes are no longer asked for, let’s see how motivated people will be to say what they can do for an employer right here right now.

  24. Neha says:

    I actually landed on this blog by searching for advice on the job hunt. There’s so much conflicting advice online but I do know there is no silver bullet.

  25. I couldn’t agree any more with what has already been said. I see the same thing everyday. And I think the problem goes so much deeper than just wanting a quick fix. Somehow in our educational system we managed to teach people to ‘do’ their work but we never equipped them to ‘find’ work.

    ‘Self-marketing’ is difficult during the best of times and anxiety-ridden during times of desperation. Yes, it is hard to help those currently unemployed but I hope that we will consider doing something different with our young future workforce.

  26. [...] week I lamented not knowing what “the silver bullet” is… got some great comments.  I can’t get networking out of my [...]

  27. [...] Alba at JibberJobber recently wrote about his uber-frustration when people plead with him for that one sure thing they can do to find their next [...]

  28. [...] wrote this in January of 2009: Why I’m Uber-Frustrated (click to see the 27 comments from back [...]

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