The title of this piece is a bit controversial, but hear me out. Artificial intelligence has gotten a lot of press lately. In fact, it has become so popular that AI is receiving a similar number of searches on Google as Taylor Swift. There’s a lot of talk about companies incorporating AI into everything they do. And, fear around AI replacing our jobs is growing.
Some companies are using AI to do incredible things. But, many other companies are using AI as a new marketing term. From the outside, the entire topic can feel confusing and alarming.
I had an enlightening conversation recently about AI. My undergraduate education is in computer engineering. Not long ago, I was discussing the topic of AI with a friend. This friend is a bit younger than me. He’s also a computer engineer, and he now develops AI technology. I shared that when I was in college, artificial intelligence and machine learning didn’t exist. I felt like I had missed out on many of the new concepts that exist today. My friend shared that the education had not actually changed that much. AI is just a new way to talk about technology. It’s a new language. Yes, some companies are doing big things with AI. But, many other companies are using AI for their branding. AI and ML are new terms that sound smart.
So, what does this mean for you? Think back to the time before AI when we were nervous that technology would replace our jobs. Computers became common and helped to make things more efficient. In some cases, jobs changed or evolved. But for the most part, we’re all still here, still working. This is not unlike what will likely happen with AI.
AI will certainly help us do some things faster. It may help make writing a bit easier. It may help with planning. But, at the end of the day, humans are still needed. Humans create strategy. Humans add a level of care and insight that a computer could never provide.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there will be no impact. AI will influence change to occur. But, the real impact is likely being exaggerated online today. Companies are throwing around terms like AI and ML because it makes them (the companies) appear to be up to date with technology. It’s a marketing tactic.
What does this mean for you? If you can learn a little about AI, it may help you to ease your fears. If you believe your job will be impacted more than others, it may be time to evaluate your other skillsets. Think of your professional skills like you would think of an investment account. Diversifying your skillset can help to avoid any major issues.
But, try to remain calm. AI is interesting, and it has some great potential. But, it is likely not set to take over our human workforce.
In the past few years, I’ve had the honor of working with a number of professionals who are part of Gen Z. They’ve been honest, principled people who care about the world around them. I have been impressed with their awareness of current events, and how strongly they feel about social issues.
But, employers are also complaining that Gen Z is hard to work with. One poll of managers found that 74 percent find Gen Z to be challenging to work with. Another found managers were more likely to fire Gen Z than any other group. You can find the frustration in these surveys, and in casual conversations with friends and coworkers.
This may be a case of young people being young people. Every new generation is considered difficult at some point in time. But, there may be more to it with Gen Z. After all, Gen Z is the first generation to grow up with computers and technology in their hands from day one. And, they went to college during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Let that sink in for a moment. An entire generation has communicated more using technology than any other generation. And, not surprisingly, many of the complaints from managers are around communication skills. At work, your ability to communicate is often just as important as your technical knowledge. Some employers also reported that Gen Z is entitled, easily offended, and not productive.
If you’re a manager in this situation, there’s hope. Many Gen Z employees are looking for more mentoring. They may also need more direction and coaching at first. Because they have spent part of their early career remote, they haven’t had as many opportunities to observe those around them. Spend more time with them, and they will thank you.
If you are a Gen Z employee, it’s important not to overlook this concern. Being smart is not enough to get ahead at work. You must also learn to communicate well with others, and to work together with a team. If you feel you are lacking in these areas, it is your responsibility to learn. A workplace is much different than a university. Your boss and peers aren’t guaranteed to teach you, or to keep you happy. If you’re learning new material, seek out mentors who agree to help. Or, look for online resources or classes you might take.
It’s also important to remember that the workplace is made up of people with very different viewpoints. And, although it’s fantastic that companies are trying to be more aware of social issues, you will disagree with some coworkers about personal or political topics. That doesn’t mean that the work isn’t still important.
Your career is something that’s built, block by block, over many years. You are the CEO. If you’re struggling, it’s your responsibility to ask for help. It’s your job to keep working at it. It’s the only way to move forward in your career.
When you’re interviewing for a job, a company may want to meet with you from two times to ten times before they make their final decision. The entire process is time consuming. But, through all of these interviews, it could be argued that one of the most important conversations happens in the very first interview.
At the time, the first interview may not seem too significant. It’s typically conducted by a recruiter who works for the company. The conversation may feel like a checklist. The recruiter will ask straight forward questions, such as why you’re interested in the job and when you’re available to start working.
Then, the recruiter may ask you how much money you currently make, or how much money you’d like to make. The question can sound reasonable. Unfortunately, answering this question may hurt you.
For salaried roles, companies typically have broad salary ranges. This allows the company to pay more or less based on factors such as experience. It also allows the company to pay less if they know the candidate currently makes less. In other words, if your current salary is low and you share it, the company is not incentivized to pay competitively. This can happen even if your market rate is higher.
At the other extreme, if you are highly paid today, you may eliminate yourself from the consideration set before the company gets to know you. In some cases, a company cannot increase the pay beyond their existing budget. But, in others they can. The only way to find out is to make it all the way through the process.
Rather than disclose your current pay, ask the recruiter if they are willing to share the pay range for the role. In most cases, this request is no problem. When it happens, you can simply share that you are (or are not) in the same general ballpark.
In the meantime, research what the company pays on your own. Look on websites such as Glassdoor.com, where you can look up pay by title and company. Glassdoor shares base pay and bonus pay information for the positions it reports on.
If you approach salary negotiation this way, you reduce the chances that you’ll be underpaid in the future.
Most companies are also beginning to realize that this technique of asking for salary is not entirely fair. Over the past ten years, the laws around salary disclosure have evolved. These changes, such as requiring the company to disclose the salary in certain states, are in place to help make the workplace fair.
There is one exception to this advice. If you find yourself working with an external placement firm, this approach likely won’t work. Unfortunately, they very often have a rule that you must disclose your salary before you meet the company.
Do your homework. Find out your worth. Practice your answers to salary questions, so you’ll be ready for your first interview.
Receiving a rejection after a job interview can be devastating. Whether you had three interviews or ten, you were all in. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have snuck away from your existing job to interview. The process of interviewing for a job is a lot like dating. The longer it goes on, the more you can picture your new future. You begin to layout plans in your mind.
It’s not hard to do this. In fact, it’s natural. In the first interview, you’re expected to share how soon you are able to start working. And, through the process you are often ask to lay out your ninety day plan. You’re asked to design the strategy you might later implement. In order to perform well in a job interview, you must picture yourself in the new role.
Unfortunately, this comes at a high personal cost to many job seekers. Job interviews with one company can often span over multiple months. I’ve personally observed interviews as long as six months. You jump over hoop after hoop. You connect with your new team. The problem is that many companies take more than one candidate through this grueling process. It is not unusual to have at least two, if not three, finalists.
It’s also not uncommon for the company to tell you that you’re definitely getting the job. They do this because they feel optimistic in the moment. They do it to keep you engaged in their months-long interview process.
If the company hires someone, all other candidates are rejected. But, sometimes the company chooses not to hire anyone at all. To be honest, many companies look at interviewing candidates like you might try on shoes at a store. If they aren’t a perfect match, they put them back and go about their day. Rarely does a company truly understand the impact to the individual job seeker.
But, this doesn’t make it hurt any less. It often makes the job seeker question their identity. You may find yourself wondering if you took a wrong turn somewhere. You will very likely grieve the loss of the future you would have had. You feel the pain of being stuck in your current situation.
Know that these are normal emotions. If you weren’t all in on a company, you wouldn’t land the job interviews. And, it’s a real loss. But, it doesn’t make you any less of a professional. It doesn’t mean you should change your career path. If you made it to the final round, realize that you did a great job. And, if the company gives you an excuse about why you weren’t selected, remember that it’s an excuse. It may or may not be accurate.
Whatever you do, keep going. Keep applying. Keep interviewing. Grieve, but keep moving forward. And, don’t give up on your dreams. One company having a disorganized, insensitive interview process is not a reflection on your own career potential.
If you’ve been looking for a new job in 2023, you can probably agree with one thing – you’re tired. The job application process is primarily online. Hundreds of applicants are able to apply to one job with just a few clicks. Now, there are ghost job postings, and new AI tools candidates must contend with. The market is full of people who were recently laid off. And, companies are considering putting hiring on hold in this uncertain economy.
To cope with job search burnout, some young people are taking a break from looking for a new job. They’re finding other ways to fill their time. And, with many living at home for longer, who can blame them?
If you’re unemployed and considering a break from your job search, you should keep a few things in mind. First, don’t forget that laws require you to be actively looking for a job to qualify for unemployment.
And, if you have been unemployed for a long period of time, you should keep in mind how it may shape outside perception. For example, if you quit a job to take a six month break, employers may begin to suspect you were fired from your last job. And, they may assume you didn’t find another job for six months because you were not a good candidate. This is something many job seekers do not consider until it’s too late.
Another pitfall is this. While unemployed, if you take a break from job searching, you may expect your time off to be relaxing. What most people never consider is that unemployment tends to be a very stressful time. You are likely to be worried about money, housing, and other basic needs.
If you decide to take a break, make it meaningful. In other words, do something that will add to your resume, and that you’ll feel proud to share. You might want to go back to graduate school to further your education. You might want to start a business. You might want to learn a new skill. You might want to do a little consulting. Or, you might donate your time to a local nonprofit.
After quitting my job years ago, I took an around the world, solo backpacking trip. I visited Europe, Asia, and Australia over the course of a few months. It was a great way to disconnect, reset, and refocus. As you can imagine, it’s been a great story to share during job interviews. It helps to explain the transition, and to create an engaging conversation.
It’s best to take time off after you receive a job offer. In other words, ask for a start date that is a few weeks out. That will give you a period of stress free time to unwind after your long search. But, if you do take time off, make it meaningful. What you do with this time will forever be part of your career story.
The first economic downturn I remember was the dot com crash in 2000. It was shocking that even the best computer engineers were struggling to get a job. Today’s economic downturn feels similar. Unfortunately, many people have been negatively impacted, as layoffs appear to be far reaching.
If you’re one of those people, keep hope. Economic downturns are temporary, and they aren’t universal. In 2000, I was studying computer programming. It felt like the entire world was losing their jobs. But, when I talk to people today who worked in other industries, the dot com crash was barely something they thought about.
If you are looking for a new job, keep the industry in mind. Try to find a company that sells something that is more recession proof. For example, a company that sells luxury products may be more likely to be at risk. A company that sells something more essential, such as pest control, may be a safer bet. If the company is publicly traded, read about it in the news. Look to see if their stock has fallen lately, or how analysts are speaking about them.
When you’re interviewing, keep job interviews going with multiple companies. Very often, a company will put a candidate through many rounds of interviews over a long period of time. Along the way, the company may even tell the candidate that they intend to give them a job offer. When a candidate hears this, they typically walk away from every other job opportunity. They want to focus in on the sure bet, and they are relieved to no longer need to keep up this long process.
But, so often, this scenario doesn’t end well. The company may not end up hiring the candidate after all. This leaves the candidate feeling out of control, and forces them to start searching all over again. You may wonder how in the world this could happen. The company could suddenly have an unexpected hiring freeze. The company could change their plans about hiring. Or, they could have simply overestimated how far the candidate might go in the process. Keep your options open until you receive a job offer in writing.
If you have always wanted to go back to graduate school, an economic downturn could be a good time to enroll. Going full time allows you to opt out of looking for a new job for a year or two. And, it gives you the opportunity to reenter the workforce as the downturn is ending, with more qualifications than you started with. It can be a great way to make a negative into a positive.
Whatever happens, keep up your networking – even when you are working. The best insurance you have against job insecurity is your network. It is especially important to nurture these connections when you don’t need anything. Then, if you find yourself in need, you’ll have a team of contacts ready to help out.
It’s that time of year again. The latest graduates have just received their college diplomas and are heading into the world of work. First, know that if you haven’t found a job yet, it’s not just you. This isn’t the easiest year to graduate. You may need to roll up your sleeves and try creative job search methods. But, once you do land a job, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to succeed.
As a new graduate, you were likely in college during the pandemic. You may have taken classes online. And, if you were fortunate enough to have an internship, it may have been online too. Unfortunately, this means that you may have missed a few lessons about working in an office environment. And, let’s face it. As much as we all love remote work, many companies are asking employees to come back to the physical office at least a few days a week.
There are a number of unwritten rules of work that you need to learn. First, appearances matter (unfortunately). For example, some of your coworkers will judge your value based on the time that you arrive in the morning and depart at night. If they don’t see your face enough, they may assume you aren’t working, or that you’re lazy. The good news is that being on time can be an easy way to earn bonus points.
It’s important to observe social norms at work. Some companies prefer in person meetings, while others prefer to meet online via Zoom or Teams. When meeting with Zoom or Teams, some companies prefer that video is turned on, while others prefer it to be turned off. There is no right or wrong way to conduct meetings. The most important thing is to follow the lead of your colleagues.
Pay attention to what people are wearing. Even when you’re working from home, it’s important to look presentable. This does not mean that you have to dress up every day. But, if your colleagues are not wearing hooded sweatshirts to the office, you shouldn’t be either.
Email is an important method of communication at work. When you send emails, you should start by addressing the person by name. Starting an email without a salutation should be saved for casual conversations with friends.
Hierarchy at work is also very important, especially when you are young. In other words, your direct boss and your peers are your best points of contact for most issues. If you need to escalate something to your direct boss’ supervisor, it’s best to discuss with your boss first. Going directly above their head can cause issues that you would not have intended to cause.
Last but not least, keep talk about your parents to a minimum. In the world of work, you’re expected to do your own. If mom or dad is helping you at home, keep that information to yourself.
For most people, switching jobs is not something they plan out in much detail. For the majority of job seekers, they have a personal connection to the job opening. The process is fairly straightforward and relatively painless. Most people tend to assume that’s what job seeking is like. This all changes when a job seeker is forced to proactively find a new job with no connections. Ask anyone who has landed a job completely on their own, and they will very likely have a harrowing story to share.
When a job seeker is searching on their own, the process can easily take anywhere from two to six months. This length of time is normal. It is not a reflection on the person’s abilities or worth. But, it certainly doesn’t feel that way. The issue is that the search process is completely different than when you know someone.
There are examples of difficult job searches shared every day on LinkedIn. Recently, a job seeker applied to 600 jobs. These applications led to 30 interviews. The 30 interviews ultimately led to one job offer. This job seeker had many years of experience and multiple advanced degrees. The entire process took three months.
And, a job search can often become elongated. The reason is that 570 rejections is emotionally exhausting. On top of this, friends and family judge the job seeker at how “difficult” their search is. It leaves the job seeker feeling worthless, and wondering if they’re even in the right career field.
Dear job seeker, please remember: it’s not you. The application process is broken. You are competing against hundreds of online applicants. You are also competing with the friends of the hiring manager. And, you are contending with less than ideal economic conditions.
But, you are prepared for this. The key is to not lose hope. It’s to realize that the system is broken; not you. You are the same talented, hardworking professional that you were before you started this search. You will find your path back.
Set goals for yourself. Keep doing your best to meet the goals, even when things feel difficult. In the example above, the job seeker applied to approximately 200 jobs per month, or 50 per week, or 10 per business day. This process is a lot of work, but it will result in success.
In addition to applications, sit down and write a list of all of the great things about your background. Perhaps you have fifteen years of experience in project management. You are great at organizing teams. You have advanced knowledge in specific topics. Once you have your list compiled, keep it handy. Each morning, read the list. Remind yourself of who you are.
You are valued. You are needed. You are the same person that you were before the economy started to turn. Outside factors changed, but you have not. You remain the same person you always have been.
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.