Comment

Who are the Villains in your Job Search?

June 24th, 2013

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 indepth 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?

4 Comments »

4 responses to “Who are the Villains in your Job Search?”

  1. Shelley Cox says:

    Wow, a powerful though perhaps not surprising list, as a career coach I am constantly bringing these very villains to the attention of my clients with ideas on how to tackle them.

    I would also add to the list of villains well meaning friends and family who try to “protect you” by encouraging you to play it safe and don’t support out of the box thinking in direction, tactics and options available. This approach can keep you stuck in trying the same old approach that doesn’t advance your job search by much at all.

  2. Wayne Gillespie says:

    Jason,

    Great post. Honesty has always been one of the the trademarks of Jibber Jobber!

    There is an expression that goes something like … I have met the enemy … and he is me – you get the idea.

    Recently, I have hired a coach to help me with the various aspects of personal branding for my job search. Over the past few months, I have come to be somewhat of an expert at “getting in my own way” and one wonders if some of those resources spent on branding, should have been allocated to a Life Coach.

  3. Joe W. says:

    I think your list is right on target. But I am 90% of my villain capacity. My wrong thinking and negative voice in my head is the top villain every time.

    As Dick Bolles said, find the issue(s) you can control, even if they are only 2-3% of things, and work them.

    Keep up the good work!!

  4. Jason Alba says:

    @Shelley, great addition, thank you. Well meaning family and friends aren’t job search experts, and sometimes have a history of being hurtful to people they “love,” and could definitely be on the list. Having someone unqualified to make a judgement call (on dress, resume, interview response, etc.) could be really harmful.

    @Wayne, thanks for the comment. You are not alone, I think most people get in their own way. I’m glad you are recognizing it… I wonder if there are a few specific things that are in your way that you can easily address?

    @Joe, thank you for that addition… I like the idea of assigning each villain a percentage of power or influence. Recognizing that can help you know where to spend your time to combat it.