Ten Signs You’re Shooting Too Low In Your Job Search

 

Dear Liz,

 

I’ve been job-hunting since October. Maybe I was naive thinking my job search would be quick and easy. I’ve been in the insurance industry for over twenty years.

 

I’ve been an agent, an office manager and held almost every insurance job there is.

 

I’ve only had one in-person job interview so far. I’ve applied for numerous jobs but in the other cases I either got a phone interview or no interview.

 

They keep telling me I’m overqualified for the jobs I’m applying for. If I’m overqualified doesn’t that make me the perfect candidate, because I can obviously do the job?

 

I thought if I took my target position down a level or two from the last few jobs I’ve held, I would get hired much faster. I’m applying for jobs I performed fifteen years ago and I thought that would do the trick but it’s not working.

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I’m sick of job hunting. I would accept anything. I still have my savings and retirement accounts because I’ve been living frugally since October, but I’m tired of job-hunting and I want to be employed as fast as possible. What am I doing wrong?

 

 

Dear Harlan,

 

It sounds like you’re shooting too low in your job search, and that is almost always a show-stopper. Employers don’t want to hire people who could perform the job with one hand tied behind their back.

 

Here are some of the reasons why not:

 

  1. They are afraid you’ll quit for a better job the minute you have the opportunity to do so.

 

  1. They are afraid that even if you say “I’ll take this job, a lower-level role that pays less than I’ve earned since 2004 — no problem!” you won’t be happy. You’ll be antsy. They don’t need that.

 

  1. They want to hire someone they can train their own way.

 

  1. They get spooked by any candidate who seems to know more about the field than they do.

 

There could be an age-discrimination aspect depending on your age, but the key is that you are shooting too low and recruiters can tell that you’re doing so. They don’t want to hire somebody for whom this job is not a natural step along your career path.

 

How can we blame them for that? It’s fear that is making you shoot low in your job search and even though everyone can relate to that fear, the remedy for the fear is not to take any job you can get but to stop and think about what you do best and what you really want to do.

 

You have to do some reflection to figure out where your sweet spot lies — at the intersection of the things you do well, the things you love to do and the needs in the talent marketplace.

 

Your fearful mindset (“I still have my savings, but I’m sick of job-hunting and I want to be employed as fast as possible!”) is killing your job search.

 

People can read energy very well.

 

Fearful energy is not appealing in a senior-level candidate or any candidate. Your need to get hired fast is what’s artificially depressing your job-search altitude and keeping you from having the conversations you should be having with hiring managers in pain.

 

You have breathing room. You have your savings and retirement accounts. Take time to stop and figure out your next step. Give up the idea of getting any job at all. Employers want to hire somebody who is dying to do the job they’re hiring for — not somebody who’s merely willing to do the job because it represents a break from job-hunting.

 

Here are ten signs you’re shooting too low in your job search:

 

  1. Recruiters view your LinkedIn profile and say “Wow! You have lot of heavy-duty experience. Are you sure you’re interested in this much lower-level job?” They are skeptical. Do you think your hiring manager will be any less skeptical? Don’t use your precious mojo trying to talk anybody into interviewing you!

 

  1. When you show up for an interview or get on a call for a phone interview, the interviewer’s voice indicates surprise or puzzlement. They can’t match the person on the phone (you) with the job opening they’re ready to interview you for.

 

  1. Whenever you get a “no thanks” notice, it gushes about your vast experience and skills and closes with “….but we need someone with a background closer to the job spec.”

 

  1. Recruiters always express surprise that you’re willing to work for the salary number you give them. The gap between your expected salary target and your actual salary target is almost always a red flag for recruiters — whether you are asking for more or less money than the position pays.

 

  1. When you tell recruiters you’d be more than delighted to take a step down in your career they sound less than excited to hear it. Naturally they wonder “Why can’t this candidate get a job at their level?”

 

  1. On your job interviews, you answer every question with a precise, expert opinion on the spot. The interviewer is taken aback — maybe even intimidated. Most companies don’t hire people who intimidate their interviewers.

 

  1. You’ve heard at least one hiring manager say “Heck,you could do my job!” and they’re right.

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