January 7, 2015
The New Year is a great time to reflect on bad habits that limit your potential. If you’re job-hunting or looking to make a career change, it’s also a perfect time to identify how your habits and attitude might affect the results of your job search.
Not only does a negative attitude repel human resources managers, but approaching the job hunt with a bad attitude will also limit your options from the start. You’ll be less likely to apply to jobs that might be a great fit, and you’ll identify fewer possibilities.
The best way to eliminate a negative attitude is to counter your negative self-talk with action. Here are five common job hunt excuses and how to beat them.
“I Send so Many Applications, and I Never Get the Job”
It’s easy to pay lip service to perseverance and persistence, but it’s hard to live it in real life when you’ve sent hundreds of applications without a response. But so many candidates approach the job hunt as a numbers game (the more applications, the more opportunities) that they ignore the role that quality plays in the application process. For every application that catches an HR manager’s eye, there may be five that go straight to recycling.
Submitting a high volume of resumes might not be a bad idea for your job search, but your goal for 2015 is to focus on quality instead of quantity. Customize your resume and cover letter for every job and make it clear how you would use your unique skills and experiences to meet the needs of this position. Include as many numbers and figures as possible to illustrate the value you bring to each position and proactively address each of your challenges.
“I’m Too Old to Get the Job”
Despite the discrimination protection offered by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), ageism in the workplace is a real fear for many job candidates. This fear can make it difficult to apply for jobs or attend interviews with confidence. It can also lead you to inadvertently focusing on the parts of the job you are not comfortable with or can overlap with stereotypes about your age such as not being comfortable with technology or “checking out” of your career before you retire.
It’s time for an attitude adjustment. Instead of being afraid of being aged out of your industry, do what you have always done to stay competitive in your field: seek out new ways to do your job as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you approach each job application and interview from this angle, you’ll be able to present your experience in a compelling and inspiring way. Then revamp your resume in an ageless way and use your personal time for age-specific personal development.
“I’m Too Young to Get the Job”
You might see a new opportunity or feel passionately about the position or the company only to find out the position calls for a lot more experience at a much higher pay grade. Or you might be frustrated by the pressure to commit to your current job before you have the experience to know whether or not it is the right fit for you.
Relax. Every HR manager wants to uncover a diamond in the rough. Your interviewer isn’t necessarily looking for someone with a perfect experience match, but he or she does want to see indications that you are passionate, dedicated and competent. If you’re interviewing for jobs that require more experience or education, do what you can to focus on what experience and insight you do have. Talk up examples that have made you confident that you can do the job and identify ways in which you’ll continue to educate yourself and take on new opportunities.
“My Experience isn’t Specific Enough for This Position”
If you’re making a career change, you might find yourself applying to jobs that don’t fit your experience. You may love the company, the industry or the role but feel outgunned about sharing your experience and your vision for the position itself. After all, they must be interviewing candidates with a perfect track record within this industry, right?
Don’t let this situation discourage you. It’s very rare that you will head into a job interview with 100 percent perfect experience for the job. Counter this experience mismatch by making your experience more specific to the job. Research the company thoroughly and reference how your experience and insight will apply to specific situations in this company’s future. Show, don’t tell, how your experience makes you a great fit for succeeding in this position.
“My Work Record isn’t Great, So No One Will Hire Me”
If you have a poor work record with periods of unemployment or several dismissals and you don’t think anything is wrong, you probably won’t get the job. No one wants to work with someone who isn’t self-aware, and no one wants to hire someone like that, either. The only way to move forward after terminations and self-induced unemployment (layoffs generally do not negatively affect your work record) is to own up to your mistakes and express genuine learning from them.
If you have an interview it’s because you show potential. But you’ll be asked to account for your record. Responsible, effective workers are self-aware and own up to their mistakes. To communicate your trustworthiness, it’s up to you to address your past failures proactively and share what you have learned from them. Provide character references that speak to your changed attitude and willingness to learn on the job. Let the HR manager decide if it’s time for a second chance. Don’t make the decision for them by being negative or not facing your past.
Is something holding you back from a new year of job hunting and interviewing? The good news is that you’re in complete control of the most important part of the interview: your attitude. Take some time to reflect on how to make this year more positive and more successful by reviewing your most common types of negative self-talk and countering them with actionable advice.