Recently I began providing job search coaching for clients who are receiving services through their university. Each coaching session is done over the phone and limited to one hour, so it is imperative that I cover as much as I can to help each job candidate jumpstart or enhance their job search efforts. All of my calls cover a variety of topics; however, if I were only able to provide just one nugget of advice that would dramatically alter each client’s job search efforts and lead to quicker success, it would be this: Stop being “Open.”
I understand where job seekers are coming from; they believe that if they are too specific about what they want in a job and an employer, they will limit their opportunities. On the surface, this seems to make sense, but it does not work. Here are some of the reasons why:
If you are open… your résumé will read more like an obituary of your career than a focused and branded marketing document that clearly communicates your skills and value and how you can benefit the target employer. You will not know what to put in and what to leave out. It is a little like running an ad in the personal columns that reads: “I’ve done a lot of stuff, please phone if you’d like to date/marry me.”
If you are open… when people ask you what you are seeking, your answer will imply that you are willing to do anything, if only someone would give you a chance. (Anything? Come now, can you really do anything? Do you really even WANT to do anything?)
If you are open… family, friends and colleagues will not know how to help you because, like you, they haven’t a clue what you are looking for. So they end up making suggestions you may not like until finally they throw their hands up in frustration because you “really can’t afford to be picky.”
If you are open… you may spend a lot of time going to interviews that are not a good fit, making you more “open” to rejection. (I have no doubts at all that had I been less “open,” I would have had far fewer than 42 blind dates!!)
If you are open… you will wander aimlessly on job boards for hours on end, applying to anything that even remotely sounds like something you would be able or willing to do. Sure it keeps you busy, but while you are spending your time dropping your résumé in a bucket with millions of other resumes written by job seekers who are also “open,” the jobs are going to those select few who really know what they want and where to find it.
If you are open… it will take you longer to find employment; days will turn into weeks and weeks into months until one day you really do end up “settling” just so you can pay the bills.
Stop being open. Know who you are and what you have to offer. Visualize your ideal job and employer and use that vision as a road map to lead you to your desired destination. Tell everyone – in minute detail as possible – what you are looking for so they can help you find it.
Looking for work is not all that different than looking for a fine restaurant or someone to date – if you keep yourself open to what ever comes along, you just may find yourself dining at the greasy-spoon with Dwight Schrute!