I remember my company’s first web site. I penned every word and designed each page; I had to select the format, graphics and visuals while my hired web expert rolled his eyes as he sent an invoice. With the internet, opportunities were now endless; from the cave man days of local yellow page advertising to a web site now going global, I was actually concerned that we might not be able to accommodate all the new callers.
After a day, a week then a month no one had called. I was devastated. With a lucrative local practice somehow I suddenly was in shock and my practice was rapidly headed for life-support. It was then I realized that while my world of opportunities had gone global, my colleagues could now compete in the same space. Everyone was everywhere and everything had changed forever.
Much like today’s job hunter no one had taught me the new game of internet commerce and it really hit home. Suddenly I was sharing the frustration my job hunters faced daily. My record of success and achievements appeared to count for nothing. No matter how awesome I was (or thought I was), until I learned and accepted the world’s new way of doing business I was doomed. Here are some common tips:
Unable to accept advice – With competition at an all-time high, this is the worst possible time to believe you know better. When an executive (more often male) assures me that he’s never had an interview that didn’t result in an offer, I shudder. These individuals have sought assistance but choose to turn away when it’s offered. Sadly they don’t have the stomach to imagine that they might be under-performing and it takes many lost opportunities to persuade them otherwise. Perhaps 40 years ago your last name or where you worked made a difference, but today your accolades and achievements are equaled and surpassed by many others. Today a good interview may not be good enough; all things being equal, the best candidate may not win; only the most compelling presentation.
Not Your Age – Known as a cop-out, these days it begins as early as age 40. You submitted your résumé, did well in the phone interview and walked in the door. The face-to-face interview seemed to go well and then weeks went by and you heard nothing. The most obvious conclusion is age; they must have wanted a younger candidate who would have worked for less. Normally unless a candidate delivers information with a geriatric style, age is not the issue. It doesn’t take a detective to realize that companies know when they are inviting a candidate with decades of experience. But they still invite. Yes, it is far less painful to write a rejection off to some sort of discrimination. And it is much easier than admitting there might have been a problem in presentation or a more suitable candidate performed better. No it wasn’t something you did. Or was it?
Blessing & Curse – Eventually the glitter and miracle of web commerce found its place in my toolbox. In career coaching it will never replace the face-to-face meeting or a voice on the phone. However I see far too many clients who remain so in awe with applying online that they go no further. Our online society has discouraged other forms of communication and is perhaps bears the greatest responsibility for job hunts of life support. Candidates will do well to remember that without a handshake there can be no starting date.
Especially Now – So here we are attempting to recover from the fall-out of Covid-19. However, despite the layoffs, furloughs and high unemployment we are still seeing hiring. We see job openings, phone interviews and Zoom sessions. And we see offers. But for now no handshakes and no eye-to-eye, thus no benefit from the humanity that comes with sitting across the desk. The need for energetic search has never been greater because a strong power of communication has been removed from our arsenal. Though this has been an unprecedented era we need to revise how we succeed. Our search must be hearty and our communications must be more effective than ever. It’s been said that willows bend and oaks break. Fortunately we have the opportunity to choose