Last week I went to a writing conference to expand my skills as a writer. The conference was full of aspiring novel authors. I was easily twice the age of everyone else in the room. The first session (which was fabulous) was all about THE VILLAIN! What makes a good villain, what kinds of villains are there (there are a bunch!), how do villains act, how does the author resolve the villain, what is the purpose of the villain, etc.
As the instructor was talking about villains I began to wonder who the villains were in my job search. Who were the people, and what were the things, that kept me from getting out of my status as “unemployed.” I would love to know who YOU think your villains are… here were some of mine:
Myself.Not going to hide this one. I was not prepared for a real job search. I had been working and preparing to be a professional manager, strategist, technologist, not a networking, interviewing, job seeker. I treated my job search like a wound that should be healed instead of thinking about career management as a way of life for the future. I got in my way many times.
Job Boards. They stole time from me. I felt productive and felt like I was playing the numbers game. There is no numbers game. You don’t have to get through 1,000 applications to get a yes. You have to get the right info to the right people to get an interview.
Recruiters. All but one lied to me. They took my resume, smiled (or replied “thank you,”) and planned to do NOTHING with the resume. They didn’t tell me I shouldn’t even approach recruiters hoping they would find me a job. Finally, one recruiter said “you’ll find a job for yourself before I find a job for you.” And that helped me understand the role of recruiters in my job search, which was dramatically different than what I thought the role was.
HR. How can you make a list of job search villains without including HR? I find HR to be distracted, unempowered, unknowledgeable (especially with in-depth job openings, like programmers), and not fun to talk to at all. They are gatekeepers and their job is to keep you out. Everyone, including HR professionals, tell you to AVOID HR in your job search.
Interviewers. I found interviewers to be highly unsophisticated (read: not trained in interviewing), or apathetic, or rude and pompous. The worst interview I had was buy an ex-Microsoft guy who was working at a startup who acted like he owned the entire world. I needed the job, thought it would be great to get mentored under someone of his experience, but he led me on through various lies and finally emailed me that they had hired someone else (which was a lie). This guy was a creep and I was too wounded to know that I should have run away. Instead, I let it hurt me more and I went to a dark place for a while after that experience.
Alright, enough about my problems… WHO or WHAT are the villains in your job search today? And how will you resolve them?