11 things to unlearn about the job market

If you find yourself on the job market for the first time for a few years you may need to unlearn some things that might have been very helpful the last time you were looking for a job. What used to work. 1 Restricting your search to a ‘permanent’ job. 2 Restricting your search to the jobs pages of newspapers and magazines or job websites. 3 Having only one version of your cv. 4 Relying on agencies because ‘they have always come up with the goods in the past’. 5 Pinning all your hopes on one opportunity 6 Believing experience counts the most 7 Playing safe, avoiding projecting anything ‘controversial’ 8 Believing you will wing it on the day of the interview 9 Looking to replicate your previous role 10 Not wanting to take ‘advantage’ of your friends and contacts 11 Believing the media when they say the loss of ‘a job for life’ is a bad thing The ‘New Rules’ 1 Permanent jobs have become the black swans of the job market, everyone knows they exist but you very rarely see one. So only looking for a permanent job can be very restrictive – there aren’t many around and lots of people are looking for them. It’s basic economics – low supply and high demand increases competition for the scarce resource. You need to become an ‘Opportunity Seeker’ rather than a ‘Job Seeker’. Think broad and wide – consider interim, part time, contract and self employed possibilities. This increases your chances but also gets you thinking more flexibly – and any of these options could develop into a permanent role. 2 This should definitely be part of your strategy but the market has become much more fluid and flexible so passive approaches are now a lot less likely to pay dividends. If it’s accessible through mass media it’s available to everyone; which brings us back to point 1 – the competition is likely to be fierce. Be an active opportunity seeker – a Miss Marple or a Hercules Poirot. Do some detective work, sniff out those opportunities and hunt them down. Better still create something that perfectly fits your profile. 3 If you last applied for jobs 5 years ago or more you might well have taken a couple of hours to write your cv and then used that document for all job applications to advertisements and to submit to agencies etc This isn’t good enough in the current market, every organisation and role is different – your cv needs to reflect this. Experiment with layouts, white space, typefaces, colour, images – your computer is your friend; it wants you to get creative.  Make sure every application is creatively crafted to wow your prospective new employer. 4 Agencies help people who help themselves. An active approach is just as important here as it is when applying to advertisements.  Build relationships with individuals, educate them about what you are good at and what you are looking for, keep them up to date, be flexible and give them prompt, accurate feedback on the opportunities they introduce to you. 5 If you see a role that is a great fit, or you get an interview for that dream job, make sure you put everything into it, but don’t get complacent and neglect other opportunities. Keep feeding your ‘pipeline’ of opportunities because if something goes wrong you could lose weeks of momentum. 6 Of course for many roles experience is still a key factor but learning, creativity and flexibility are now just as highly rated by most employers. This is all down to the pace of change – organisations need people who learn quickly from feedback, have the imagination to develop innovative ways of doing things and have the adaptability to respond to new working methods. This is what they are listening out for from your cv and from what you say in the assessment process. 7 If you play safe in the current market you will only come across as uninspiring and unexciting. Remember only one person gets the gig, everyone else loses. It doesn’t matter if you finish 2nd or 22nd – you still lose. Remember it’s competitive – you have to stand out. Whatever you are great at really needs to shine through, it must be communicated passionately and articulately. You need to make yourself irresistible and magnetic . 8 You might have lived through every minute of your career, and no-one is a bigger expert on your career than you are. But that doesn’t mean you will remember the right things to say or select the most effective example to illustrate a point in an interview. Don’t get home and sit there thinking to yourself ‘why didn’t I mention that fantastic training course I went on’ or ‘how could I forget about that time I turned round that challenging IT project’. Practice and preparation are vital to great interview performance – you need to go back to school and revise your own career. Then the examples and information will be readily and fluently accessible. 9 Try thinking of redundancy or career change as feedback. There is a reason why you are looking for something new; maybe you had become a bit jaded with what you were doing, maybe the market you were operating in has shifted and consumers’ tastes have changed, maybe you have reached a plateau, or hit a ceiling? If any of these are true why would want more of the same? Maybe this is the time to re-invigorate your career by looking for something new and exciting. You don’t want to be back in this same spot in 2 years time do you? 10 Your friends, family and network of contacts are a fantastic asset in this situation. Don’t be embarrassed to tell them about your circumstances and enlist their support. They are your friends, they care about you; remember. They will do whatever they can, so make sure they know what you are looking for and they will become an amazing opportunity searching resource for you. 11 Sure there is a lot to be said for continuity and predictability, but how many people do you know that are in love with their job? The reality doesn’t always live up to the promise. A flexible, portfolio based career may be riskier but it can also be a lot more varied, exciting and rewarding. So don’t believe all you read in the papers, go and check things out for yourself – you might get a pleasant surprise.

This entry was posted in career transition, careers, job search and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.