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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Ten Rules Job Seekers Are Allowed To Break Now

The working world is changing dramatically around us.

 

The job-search world has changed, too.

You can’t be a complacent job seeker these days. You have to be proactive. You can’t follow the old rules:

 

  1. Apply for jobs online, then wait.

 

  1. If you don’t hear anything, apply for more jobs online.

 

  1. Wait as long as it takes for you to hear back, and one day you’ll get a job.

 

Forget that nonsense! You have to break out of that mold to get a good job these days.

 

You might think it’s too risky to break the old, traditional job-search rules. If you don’t break a few rules, you could wait forever to get your new job!

 

For years, department managers have gone around and outside their organizations’ formal recruiting processes to fill their job openings.

 

They use their networks and their employees’ networks as recruiting sources. They meet people at industry events and keep in touch with them, and hire them down the road.

 

You can tap into the same informal networks to get your next job. You can break the old rules and step into your power!

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Here are ten rules job-seekers are allowed to break now:

 

  1. The rule that says your resume must be dusty and formulaic.

 

Don’t use meaningless, robotic language like “Results-oriented professional” in your resume. Tell your human-story in your own words, instead!

 

  1. The rule that says you can’t use the word “I” in your resume.

 

You can use “I” in your resume — it’s your principal branding document! You can use “I” in your LinkedIn profile, too.

 

  1. The rule that says the only way to apply for a job is through the company’s online job application portal.

 

Black Hole recruiting portals are the worst job-search channel there is. Use your network, or reach out to hiring managers directly.

 

  1. The rule that says you can’t reach out to your hiring manager directly.

 

Yes you can!

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3 major red flags when it comes to taking a job offer

Don’t overlook these reasons to walk away.

Sometimes the excitement over landing a potential new job causes you to overlook some major red flags. In many cases, the problems aren’t hidden, but we’re willing to overlook them because we want a change, the money is better, or the new situation is a much-wanted promotion.

It’s important, however, no matter how excited you are, to listen to that little voice in the back of your head. Even if you want to charge ahead and ignore any potential problems, step back and really examine the situation. You may still decide to take the job, but you’ll go into it with less wide-eyed innocence.

Of course, you don’t have to take a job just because it’s offered. You can walk away even if it’s painful because of what you will be giving up.

Here are some helpful tips from three of our Foolish contributors.

 

You’re not feeling good about it

Selena MaranjianIf you’re offered ajob doing the kind of work you’d like to do for a salary that seems good or great, you might still want to turn it down — if you just don’t feel too good about it.

For example, when interviewing at the job site, you might have been put off by the company culture. Perhaps it seemed too silly, with cutesy signs adorning the halls. Or maybe it seemed too unfriendly, with lots of reminders to workers to follow various rules. It’s good to look closely at a potential workplace, noting, for example, how happy or unhappy the employees seem to be.

We’re in the connected internet age now, so take advantage of that. You can look up reviews of your employer at sites such as Glassdoor.com.

Here are some comments for one company that give you an idea of the kinds of insights you can glean:

•”Management doesn’t really care about the employees or what’s going on. … It’s simply horrid.”

•”No opportunity for advancement. None whatsoever. You won’t get a raise. some of my coworkers have worked for over 8 years without a change in compensation.”

Read many reviews of any company of interest, to get an overall sense of employee attitudes. Don’t be swayed by just one bad review. It’s also good to do some networking, trying to find friends or friends of friends who work at companies of interest to get their perspectives.

Finally, give some thought to the company’s health. Is it doing well? If it’s a public company, you can check out its financial statements to see if its top and bottom lines are growing. Look it up in the news, too. If you find articles wondering how it’s going survive amajor challenge or new competitor, those can be worrisome signs.

Mixed messages about the role

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