Be a selective job seeker, not a picky job seeker

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picky_eaterA colleague from a very large state university recently contacted me with a hard question.  An alum struggling to find a job called him from a job fair.  He was frustrated and seeking advice.

 My colleague asked:  Why do you think you haven’t found a job yet?

The alum’s answer after a long pause: I’ve been limiting myself to automotive companies because that’s what I’m really interested in. 

This exchange reminded me of many conversations I have had over the years with students.  

Conversations like the following:

Matt: “Did you apply for this job?This exchange reminded me of many conversations I have had over the years with students.  Conversations like the following:

Student:  “No, I don’t know if I want to work in that city, so I didn’t apply.”

Matt: ” What about that job?”
Student:
 “No, I don’t think I want to work for that company, so I didn’t apply”

Matt: “Okay, so how about this job?”
Student: “Yeah, I didn’t apply for that one either. They’re not in my industry.”

Matt: “So what kinds of jobs and careers are you looking for?  What is ‘your industry’?”
Student: “I don’t know; something I’ll like; something in my major.”

Matt: “How do you know you won’t like the jobs we’ve been talking about? How do you know they’re not right for someone in your major?”
Student: “I don’t know; they’re not what I’m looking for.”

Matt: “How do you know they’re not what your looking for if you don’t know what the jobs involve and you don’t know what you are looking for?”
Student:   “Look, I can’t describe what I’m looking for, but I’ll know it when I see it.  So, I have one more question.

Matt:  “Okay, what’s your question?
Student: “Why is it so hard to find a job?  Nobody seems to be hiring.”

Don’t you just love circular logic like this? I do.  It brings a real  level of  certainty to the process. In this case,  it guarantees you just one thing:

“You will not get jobs for which you do not apply – 100% of the time.

How do you like those odds?

Listen, I want students to be selective when considering their career options. I don’t want student randomly applying for jobs just because a job is available and they need a job.  But there is a huge gray area between “perfect fit” jobs  and “not a chance” jobs that far too many job seekers neglect.  And worse yet, many job seekers don’t even take the time to define or describe they types of positions they are seeking, yet are perfectly happy to reject opportunities outright as “not for them” without any reasonable explanation.

Former US Supreme Court Justice Potter, when asked to characterize pornography in a 1964 opinion (Jacobellis v Ohio),  had difficulty defining it, but said:

“I’ll know it when I see it.”

Is that your approach in your job search?  If so, I’ll bet you’re pretty frustrated.

Don’t use the “Justice Potter approach” in your job search! It might be a good way to characterize your definition of pornography, bgut it’s a lousy strategy for a job search.

If you don’t have some idea what you are looking for, chances are it (and many other really good opportunities) will pass you by.  Don’t arbitrarily apply for every job out there, but don’t arbitrarily reject potential opportunities unless you can legitimately defend your rationale for not applying.

Finding a job is hard – identifying a career path is even more difficult – don’t make the process that much more (and unnecessarily) challenging by being picky.

It’s good to be selective in your search for a job.  Being selective means you are evaluating your options and pursuing those most suitable to you and your goals.

It’s bad to be picky in your search for a job.  Being picky means you are not willing to invest the time necessary to be selective.

So, are you picky or just selective; are you looking for opportunities or excuses (and be honest when you answer that question!)

Good luck

matt-signature

 


About the Author

Avatar of Matt
	Berndt

“Head Coach and Career Services Evangelist” of TheCampusCareerCoach.com. Vice President of CSO Research, Inc. Matt has 20+ years in career services and workforce development, including serving as Director of Communication Career Services at the University of Texas at Austin, Director of Career Resources at St. Edward’s University, and Manager of Student and Corporate Relations for the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. He has also served on the Boards of Directors of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the Southern Association of Colleges and Employers, and the Southwestern Association of Colleges and Employers.

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