In the middle of a job search it’s often tempting to wish you could hire someone else to do the work for you. What if there was an expert out there who’d find you jobs, write application forms for you and go to interviews? What skills do you imagine such an expert having?
Hunting Your Job Hunter
Well, let’s turn this round. How would you do if you applied for the role of your own job hunter? Do you have the skills and abilities to get yourself a job? It’s one of the odd things about job searching that you need to be good at the role you’re applying for and good at applying for it. It’s a sad fact in many ways but some people are better at applying for and getting jobs than others. Beyond qualifications and experiences, some people are good at job searching and applying; and some are not. This has got me thinking: if you were to write a job spec for a job hunter, what would you put on it?
In a previous post I wrote I covered three main ability areas that are identified by Benjamin Bloom – SKILLS, KNOWLEDGE and ATTITUDES. Using these headings I’m going to work through the abilities a job hunter needs.
- Research – central to being good at job hunting is being good at research. I think there are three main aspects to good research. Firstly, identifying good places to search for jobs (e.g. websites, online groups, newspapers, etc.). Secondly, being good at looking for jobs in these places (using keywords, search strings, etc.) is essential; and thirdly, when you find a job – being good at assessing its suitability.
- Reflection – being good at job hunting is as much about learning about yourself as it is about the world of work. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses and learning from your past experiences is vital to being successful in a job search. Being able to step back and look at yourself and your overall strategy and make adjustments is key to job hunting success.
- Communication – sooner or later in a job search someone is going to want to know something from you. Communicating well at this point is vital for landing that role. Without communication a hiring manager cannot determine if you are suitable for a role. CVs, application forms, interviews and social media are all examples of areas a job hunter needs to be good at communicating in.
- Industry knowledge – knowing what is happening in the industry you are searching gives you a big advantage in a job search. It allows you to pinpoint what sort of person will be employed and what sort of roles will be coming up. Also knowing about the wider industry will give you an advantage at interviews.
- Knowing what employers want – knowing what employers are looking for seems obvious but is often missed by job hunters. It’s easy to focus on what you can do and ignore what they may be looking for. Knowing what sort of a person recruiters in general, or even better, the company or the hiring manager you are dealing with are looking for is knowledge well worth having.
- Your goals – it’s worth remembering that even in tough economic times like ours, job hunting is a two way process. Knowing what you want, where you want to be, what would make you happy and your long and short term career goals will help you decide on a given role and keep you motivated beyond just getting any job.
- Determination – few people, if any, find job hunting easy. Everyone hits a point sooner or later of feeling disheartened or discouraged by not having a job. The successful job hunter is one who has the determination to keep going at this point in order to overcome the obstacles they face to get the role they want.
- Robustness – linked to determination is being robust. It’s about having strength and endurance, about not being easily moved. Job hunting involves taking knocks but picking yourself up again. I know lots of graduates who think that finding a role at the moment is just too hard and lower their sights too soon after a few rejections. A good job hunter won’t be so easily discouraged, which in the long term will expose them to more opportunities, and ultimately, more chance of success.
- Open-mindedness – having talked about the need to be determined and robust, some people cripple their job search by being narrow-minded. Having too specific an idea of the right job can stop you from seeing roles that may be just as satisfying but are slightly more varied than what you first expected. A good job hunter can keep an open mind to new opportunities rather than being too narrow and dogmatic in their job search.
When faced with this job spec, how do you think you’d do at applying? Is there a particular area that holds you back and need to develop? What else would you add to this list, based on your job hunting experience?