Although April Fools’ Day is over, this is no joke. If we didn’t have enough to wade through, now we have to consider fake job postings. An increasing number of job seekers are noticing this trend. But, unfortunately, it’s one that has been around for quite some time.
According to The Wall Street Journal, a survey of more than 1,000 hiring managers conducted by Clarify Capital found that 27 percent reported having job postings up for more than four months. Of those, almost half were left up to give the impression that the company was doing well.
Other employers left job postings up for different reasons. They may want to give the impression to overworked employees that help is on the way. Or, they may be hedging their bets that they will need employees in the future.
If this sounds frustrating for a job seeker, it is. Job seeking is a grueling process that takes a considerable amount of time and energy. It requires job seekers to sneak out of work for a series of interviews. If the job seeker were to be caught in this process, it could put their current job at risk.
Some companies will delay hiring as they search for the perfect candidate. After some time, they decide not to fill the role at all. Other companies delay hiring to save money. In some situations, the hiring process can take so long that the hiring manager may change. And, the new hiring manager may want to reevaluate the role.
Companies often look at job candidates like a product. Imagine going shopping at a store like Target. You can look at every item, and in the end, if you don’t want to buy anything, no one will care. But, with a job seeker, this isn’t a fair experience. Job seekers are people, not products. These decisions have a real impact on their lives.
I once interviewed for a role at a large financial services company. The company put me through roughly 12 rounds of interviews over a five month period, including in person interviews in another state. Near the end of the process, they assured me that I would get an offer. I stopped looking for other jobs, and started packing my things to move. A few weeks went by and the hiring manger called. The role had been on hold since the beginning. He continued to interview me in hopes that he would eventually gain approval. He did not.
If you’re a job seeker, remember that your job search is a numbers game. If you aren’t hearing back from a company or if they’re going slowly, hedge your bets. Apply for more roles. Keep things moving, so that you will find an employer who is truly hiring. Look for job postings that haven’t been up for months, and that contain specific details about the role. Eventually, you’ll find a real opportunity that’s a great fit.
One of the biggest misconceptions that we have about job interviews is that they’re fair. Going through an interview feels a little like taking a test at school. And, we’re taught to believe that enough preparation could help you to overcome any obstacles. Being great at answering questions will help you put any objections to rest. I wish this were completely true, but there’s more to the story.
Job interviews are like anything else in life. Sometimes they’re fair. But often, you can’t see the entire picture. Unfortunately, when you believe you’re taking part in a fair process, you may put forth all of your energy in order to ace one interview. When the interview doesn’t work out, we take it personally. We believe there must have been something we could have done differently. We assume it was our fault that we didn’t get the job.
Sure, it’s possible to mess up a job interview. It’s possible to completely be rejected with the wrong attitude. But, you can also do everything right and not land the job. On the other extreme, you can land a job for virtually no real reason. I once knew someone who landed a technical computer job because they were a great golfer. It’s hard to compete when you didn’t know golf was a requirement.
So, where does that leave you? Does it mean that you should just give up? No, it doesn’t. But, it does mean that you have to try to separate yourself emotionally from the process. It’s hard to do. I struggle with this myself. But so very often, there are things going on outside of your control that have nothing to do with you or your talent – and they often have little to do with your interview performance.
So, first, separate yourself emotionally as much as you can. Realize that job searching is a numbers game and consider changing your approach. Rather than applying online, look for creative ways to contact the hiring manager. When you land a job interview, you should do your best to prepare. You should know your elevator pitch, why you believe you are a fit for the role, and basic information about the company. If the interviewer likes you, this should be enough preparation to get you past the first screening.
For the sake of your mental health (and being able to sustain multiple first round interviews interviews), you should avoid pouring your entire being into preparing for a few round interview. I know that this is somewhat counterintuitive. But, the more time you spend focused on one interview, the more devastated you will be if you don’t get the job. And let’s face it, you often have to get a number of rejections before you’ll get to a yes.
Realize that the process is broken; not your resume. Keep pushing ahead. After all, winning at job search is in fact a numbers game.
Have you asked friends how they’re doing at work lately? Many people are feeling scared. The national news is filled with headlines about layoffs and an unstable economy. Unlike before, the layoffs no longer feel small and isolated. Big companies that we all know are laying off hundreds, if not thousands, of workers. Many are being laid off with little or no notice. The unemployment rate remains low, and there continue to be job postings. But, the state of the economy feels very uncertain. After three years of instability, people feel fear. It’s just that plain and simple.
This time of year, I often discuss the importance of having a job you love. You spend so much time at work that it is important to do work that is meaningful to you. It’s important to do work you can feel good about. This is all true. That said, there are also times you’re happy just to have a job. For many people, this is that point in time. If you’re feeling this way, what can you do?
Very often, how we feel at work isn’t really about the work we’re doing. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that people don’t quit companies. They quit managers. And, that’s the truth. Sometimes, workers will leave for a better salary. But, they wouldn’t have been looking if they hadn’t been unhappy.
If you are in a situation that feels tough, look around you. One way to combat unhappiness at work is to find a work friend. It sounds silly at first, but it works. Having someone to talk to about what’s going on in the office can create a support structure that is otherwise lacking. It can give you a sounding board on hard days. It can give you another reason to come to work and put your best foot forward when you’re not feeling it. It can give you one person you can trust and count on.
In most situations, finding a work friend is easier than finding a new job. And, if switching jobs during an uncertain economic period is more of a risk than you’d like to take, it’s time to build up the support system at your existing job.
If you’re lucky enough to have a work friend or two, don’t discount how important they are in your life. They are your buffer that will help you make it through tough times. They’ll help you to love days that might otherwise be unbearable. They’ll have your back, and shelter you from the storm happening in other areas of the company. Cherish those people. They’re special. They’re the ones you may even work with again in the future – at another company.
As always, if you have a new opportunity on the horizon, go for it. But, if you need to keep things steady, focus on friendships. Focus on the people who help you to love your job a little bit more.
Interviewing for jobs is hard. Getting an interview is hard. This is especially true when you don’t know someone already at the company where you’re applying. Through the process of automated email rejections to our job applications, we try to make sense of it all. It’s human nature to try to piece together what we can’t see. It helps us to feel more in control. It helps to try to perform better the next time, if only we understood what went wrong now.
When I hear from job seekers, they are almost always beat down. It’s a lot like dating. The entire process can be rough until you find the one person you happen to click with. Until that point, the experience is a sea of rejections and unanswered questions. When you ask a job seeker why they weren’t hired, you’ll hear common themes. “I didn’t meet the minimum number of years of experience required.” “I’ve never worked in that industry before.” “They weren’t impressed with my job history.”
What is interesting is what comes next. If you ask the same jobseeker how they received this feedback, they didn’t. Very often, they never got a job interview. But, because the job description was so extensive, it’s easy to find a spot where their experience didn’t align to the job posting. That’s right. They deducted that they weren’t a match based on what they know about the role.
The problem is, this logic is flawed. Don’t get me wrong. The job seeker could be correct. But, more than likely, a human never saw their job application at all. Unfortunately, the system of applying online is flawed. And, beyond that, online job postings allow hundreds of people to apply to a single posting with just a few clicks.
Sadly, job searching has evolved into a numbers game. In order to find a new job, I suggest job seekers try to set a goal to apply to 100 jobs. The number seems high, but it’s about increasing your odds. The more applications you put in (for roles you’re a fit for), the more likely you are to get an interview. The more often you have a friend refer you to a role who already works at the company, the more likely you are to get an interview. The more often you email the hiring manager directly, the more likely you are to get an interview.
Getting an interview is key. If you don’t speak to a human, it’s possible a human never saw your resume. That’s why applying to so many jobs is important. And, that’s why going the extra mile by tapping your network is important. Set goals, and stick to them. When you are rejected, try to accept that a large part of the problem is the system. Every rejection should not be taken as a personal attack, but as a message to keep applying to other opportunities.
People often ask, “If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?” This is such a great question. It causes you to reflect on the past, and to think back about where your blind spots might have been. The idea is that if you had only known this one detail, your life path might have changed positively in some way.
If I were to go back in time, there is one piece of advice I would give myself, and I’ll share it with you: You’re not too young. You’re not too young to do that job. You’re not too young to manage people. You’re not too young to start a business.
Fortunately, I believed that having a lack of experience wasn’t a deal breaker. I often applied for jobs that I was technically underqualified for, because I knew that I could perform the role. I didn’t let the job description hinder my search. But, this didn’t hold true when it came to my age.
On a few occasions, I was given incredible opportunities that I turned down because I assumed that I was too young. I assumed the person who was offering the opportunity didn’t understand that I wasn’t old enough to do those jobs. For example, when I was a senior in college, I interviewed for an engineering job at Motorola. I was looking for a full time job after graduation. One of the interviewers was so impressed that he asked me if I would consider a manager job. I immediately declined. There was no way I should be managing other people at twenty-one, or so I thought. I delayed managing people for six more years.
But, there was no reason not to try sooner. You don’t have to be a certain age to try things. Some of the people who are the best managers are those who started very young. They have so much more experience, and learned a lot early on. When you are young, people will give you a chance. They’ll forgive your mistakes. It is harder to get this sort of opportunity for the first time at an older age.
In the same way that I was scared, I have heard from many job seekers who also face this fear. They assume they are underqualified and will have no chance. Honestly, it makes sense. Job descriptions are an impossible wish list that includes many years of experience. In fact, I’ve never seen a job description for a manager role that doesn’t call for management experience.
Whether you want to become a manager, or whether you want to start a business, don’t assume you are too young. When you’re young, you have less to lose. You can try things, and if you fall down, there’s time to get back up. But, along the way, you’ll learn many valuable lessons and be better for it in the end.
First and foremost, hiring is still happening. As seen on TV, there have been a number of layoffs in recent months. But, keep in mind that there are specific industries that are experiencing layoffs. And, only a small portion of employees are impacted. These layoffs do not mean that the entire job market is down. The United States unemployment rate in November was 3.7 percent. This shows that overall, the market is still strong.
A big focus of 2023 will be the diverse work options available. With the pandemic, many companies went fully remote. As time has gone by, some companies are asking employees to come back to the office full time. Other companies have created hybrid models that allow employees to come to the office a few days each week, and to work from home the remaining days. Employees will begin to seek out opportunities that align to their lifestyles. It is interesting to note that there are fewer work from home jobs being posted, and they are receiving a high volume of applicants. If you’re a hiring manager, you may want to keep this in mind.
Lifestyle will also continue to be a large focus in 2023. In the past two years, employees have prioritized health and quality of life more. There will continue to be an emphasis on work life balance. Employers will continue to test out new benefits, such as mental health days.
Wages will continue to rise during 2023. However, do not expect to see the large jumps we saw in the previous few years. If you are looking for a new job, do your research. Sites such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn will help you to understand what the current pay rate is for your role, in your industry.
When you are job searching in 2023, consider the industry that you are looking in. There are some sectors, such as financial services, travel, and government contracting that are seeing growth this year. There are other sectors such as tech that are less stable.
No matter what sort of job you’re pursuing, the time to get started is now. Do not sit and wait for a job to find you. Make your job search a priority. And, if you haven’t looked for a job in a few years, brace yourself. Things have changed. The online application process is a long one. It can be discouraging at times. You will apply to many jobs that you won’t hear back from at all. Know that this is normal now. It’s not you, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Hang in there. Keep moving forward, and you’ll find something in the New Year before you know it.
When you’re riding a horse, there’s an important lesson about where you focus your energy. You need to keep your head up, and focused on where you want to go. If you look down, you may get stuck and ultimately, you may not make it to your intended destination. The same is true when looking for a job.
The modern job search comes with quite a few bumps in the road. It has happened to the best of us. You’re interviewing with one company. It seems like it’s going well. You receive positive feedback, so you stop looking for jobs. You wait for the job offer to arrive. But, at the end, you aren’t selected.
This happened to me when interviewing for a job at a financial services company. They put me through ten rounds of interviews over a six month period. After going in person for interviews, the hiring manager let me know that I was the one he’d selected. But, he wanted me to talk with a few more people, which elongated the process by a month or more. This was an unusual request given how far along we were, but I did the interviews. Since I knew I’d been selected, I began to pack my things. The job was in another city, and I needed to prepare to move.
Strangely, that job offer never arrived. Instead, I received a phone call from the hiring manager. He told me he had good news and bad news. I was the winning candidate. But, they had decided not to hire anyone in order to save money. I could tell by the lightness in the hiring manager’s tone that he had no idea what an impact this decision had on me. He wasn’t thinking about the months it would take me to find another job. He had no idea I’d already packed, or that I’d stopped applying at other companies. In his mind, it was as if he’d changed his mind about ordering a dessert after dinner. But for me, it was devastating news.
What could I have done differently here? Well, for one, the lesson is to never stop applying for jobs until you have a written job offer in hand. Until that point, anything could happen. The company could choose to hire someone else, or to hire no one at all.
Second, you should try to go through job interviews without thinking about the outcome. When you focus on the outcome, you will be extremely disappointed by all the rejection. It will begin to feel as if something is wrong with you. But, that’s not true. The modern hiring process is broken.
And, don’t get too excited just because you’re a perfect fit for a role. Someone else may be a perfect fit too.
So, stay focused. Keep your eyes on the end goal. When you reach it, you’ll know. Until then, keep looking forward.
Years ago, I interviewed for a job in Pittsburgh. I flew in late at night, with the interview scheduled first thing the next morning. As I unpacked, I realized I had forgotten the pants to my suit. My mind was racing as I went through the options of what to do.
Could I wear the pants I’d flown there in? No, they were sweatpants. Could I call a cab to take me to a mall? No, it was late and everything was closed. Could I have a pair of pants shipped to me from home? No, all the shippers were closed for the day.
This brainstorming went on for an hour. I wracked my brain as I tried to think of a creative solution to this big problem.
It turned out, packages could be dropped off directly at the airport until around midnight for FedEx, and could be delivered by six the next morning. The only catch was getting the pants to the airport.
My apartment manager was the only one with a key to my apartment, but I didn’t have her phone number. So, I called a neighbor who was friends with another neighbor who had a dog that the building manager walked every day. I knew he would have the building manager’s phone, and I knew my other neighbor had the dog owner’s phone number.
After a few calls, I found the building manager’s phone number. I called and asked her to give my key to a friend who was willing to drive the pants to the airport. My friend entered my apartment and called to locate the correct pair of pants. Then, he drove them to FedEx, and mailed them.
Afterward, I alerted the hotel desk to contact me the moment the pants arrived—which they did. The interview went smoothly and nobody noticed anything unusual.
One of the questions they asked was, “Tell us about a time you encountered a problem and were able to find a creative way to solve it.” It was the perfect opportunity to share my story. The interviewers were both surprised and impressed. What started as a nightmare turned out to be a big win!
I don’t remember if I got that job, but I do remember that the interview went well.
The lesson: When it comes to job interviews, don’t expect everything to go perfectly. There’s often something that will go wrong. If you can plan on that thing, it’s much easier to roll with the punches and have a positive experience.
Interviewing is not about answering every question correctly. The hiring manager is more likely to remember how they felt about you than how you answered each question. It’s like going to a live comedy show. You don’t remember each joke, but you remember whether you had a good time.
As I’ve shared before, I’m a fan of working from home. Although it comes with pros and cons, the benefits are often undeniable. Those working from home are often able to be more productive. They have the ability to get more done in less time. They don’t waste hours each day in the car commuting. They are able to focus on what matters the most – working. And, they have more time left to devote to their families.
On the flip side, if you’re working from home, you have to try harder to make real connections with your coworkers. It’s easy to know very little about the people you’re working with. You are less likely to know about their families or hobbies, for example. Although these details aren’t related to work, knowing coworkers well can increase teamwork and therefore productivity.
Personally, there’s another hurdle too. Working in person creates more opportunity for social connection. When you work in an office, you’re more likely to have lunch with coworkers. You’re more likely to celebrate birthdays and holidays. Work is more than just work. It’s a place to make friends. It’s a place to socialize.
One downside to working from home is that people feel lonelier. They feel disconnected. The social aspects of working in an office are gone. If you’re working from home, this is something to be aware of. Very likely, you will want to try to make more time for social connection outside of work than you did before. Making friends as an adult isn’t an easy task, but it’s important.
If you’re like most people, starting to make new friends is the hardest part. It’s hard to know where to begin. Think about your hobbies, and interests. Are there things you wish you knew more about? From cooking to bowling to running, there are many different types of groups for different interests.
Meetup.com can be a great resource. Meetup has many special interest groups that you can join with little obligation. Look for events on the website of your local newspaper. You can also search Eventbrite for paid events that may be happening in your area. If you find groups that are of interest that are not on one of these sites, send them an email and asked to be added to their newsletter. Most groups send out weekly or monthly notices of upcoming activities.
When you find fun things to do, be brave. Try to attend a few different activities. If you can, attend alone. Many people do this. Going alone will encourage you to talk to people you haven’t met before.
Just one social activity per week can greatly change your social connectedness. Suddenly, you’ll find yourself with friends and social events. And, being social is about more about being social. The happier you feel, the better you’ll do at work. And, very often, being socially connected can help you find a future job.
How do you react when you’re behind at work, or at home? So often, when this happens, it feels like the answer is to do more. Roll your sleeves up, work harder, and push through it. Stay up late, and get up early. This can be an effective strategy if you’re doing something mindless, such as unpacking boxes after a move. But, if you’re doing work that requires thought and concentration, doing more may not actually work. In fact, it could have the opposite effect.
Over-working yourself will wear you out. It will zap your creativity and your mental energy. Your work will take longer, and it is more likely that you’ll make mistakes. Pushing yourself too much is one of the behaviors that can ultimately lead to burnout. And, burnout can take quite a lot of time and energy to recover from.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that we all begin checking out. It’s also not an effective strategy to do nothing.
But, when you’re tight on time, or your to do list seems to be way too long, take the time to reprioritize. Rather than try to accomplish everything, decide which of your long list of things is the most important. A great exercise is to try cutting your to do list in half. If you could only accomplish half of the things on your list, which tasks would you begin with? Which tasks must be completed now versus later? Which tasks are quick, and which are long?
Focusing in on fewer things allows us to do those things better. It allows us to clear our minds of the worry of having to complete too many tasks. For the items you do complete, you’ll have the time to do the best possible job on each task. Of the tasks you focus on, you’ll actually complete them. And, you’ll do a better job.
If you’re squeezed at work, you’ll probably find this advice is the opposite of the way many leaders think of getting things done. So often, prioritizing what is important seems like an impossible task. In fact, everything is important. How can we possibly pick specific tasks over others?
But again, trying to accomplish too much is not a good long term strategy. It can work once in a while, but not normally. There’s a saying that if everything is important, nothing is important. And, this is true. When you try to do too much, you may find yourself completing very little of your list.
Both at work and at home, make your goal to do fewer things better. You’ll find that this strategy will improve your mood. You will ultimately accomplish more. And, your quality of work will improve overall. At work, this strategy will force you to have tough conversations about which projects take priority. But over time, the process of reprioritizing your work will become easier. And, you’ll get more done.