I was reading an interesting article today, Before You Apply: Answer 4 Important Questions. In the article, Susan Joyce proposes answering the following four questions before taking the time to apply for a job:
- Do I want the job?
- Am I qualified for the job?
- Do I want to work for the employer?
- Do I know anyone who already works for the employer?
The first three questions mirrored my post about the Three Basic Interview Questions and I found her reasoning for answering these questions to be insightful. As I finished the article, I began to think of another reason the first three questions can be beneficial as they help one avoid what I call the Job Search Vortex.
The Job Search Vortex is a vicious cycle of applying, rejection, loss of self-confidence, and finally loss of hope in one’s employment prospects. The first three questions can help applicants avoid the Vortex. Consider the following example:
John applies for 50 jobs over the weekend through a large online job board. In order to apply for all 50 jobs, John sends the same application materials to each position, no matter the industry, role, or job requirements. John is rejected (or never hears back) from 48 of the postings – jobs where he was a bad match due to a lack of relevant skills/experiences or a bad match because he did not take the time to elaborate on his relevant skills/experiences. The two job interviews that are offered are for positions that John is not excited about, nor wants. In the interviews, his lack of enthusiasm for the roles and employers result in his not receiving an offer.
At the end of this effort, John begins to question his abilities as he has been rejected from jobs where he was underqualified, qualified, and overqualified. John notices the only jobs he hears back from are the least desirable ones and begins to think this is what he will have to accept and what he should expect. The following week, John repeats the process and experiences the same results, furthering his dismay of his employment prospects. The cycle will continue until John tries a different approach or John secures a job – most likely one that he is over-qualified for and one that he is not excited about accepting.
This scenario is too common among job applicants. I worry the most when applicants begin to doubt their abilities or their employment prospects. I recently met with a college senior who was edge of the vortex. While he was not applying to 50 jobs a week, he was applying to every full-time role he could find online, no matter the job function. His frustration level was growing at the lack of progress on his job search. He was beginning to see little hope for his employment prospects for after graduation. The student began to use phrases like “…take any job…” and “…I don’t care what job it is…”
When I encounter clients who are in or who are on the verge of the Vortex and who are using phrases like the ones above, I ask them to focus on Question #1: Do I Want This Job? If one is not excited about the job, the lack of energy is going to show in one’s application and interviewing efforts. Why spend time and energy applying for something you don’t want. Would you spend your money buying something you don’t want or need? Would you declare a college major that you don’t want to study? Would you spend time on the weekends hanging out with people you don’t like?
NO. Then why waste your time, energy, and efforts applying for jobs that you have no intention of ever accepting if offered? Or jobs that once you do accept you are already plotting on how to leave.
Take the time you would have spent on job applications in which you have no interest and spend this time on applications to positions that you actually care about. Tailor your resume and cover letter to elaborate how you are a strong candidate. Reach out to contacts who are in the field or at the employer for advice on how to position one’s application materials. Focus and expend effort on the applications you care about and you will begin to move away from the Job Search Vortex.
It is very easy to slip into the Vortex and not easy getting and staying out. I do know that randomly applying for jobs is a quick way to end up in the Vortex, so consider the four questions before you next apply for a job.