Labor Day is a holiday that honors the American labor movement. It celebrates the development, productivity, and prosperity of the United States. And, it marks the unofficial end of summer. If you’re like most Americans, Labor Day is spent with loved ones and tasty food.
But, the end of summer means one thing in the world of job searching. It’s the time when job postings and hiring begin to slow. Between now and December 31st, the job search world is predicted to slow down. And, it will slow down. This is a trend that happens every year.
If you’re looking for more development, more productivity, and more prosperity at work, this is the time to get started. Honestly, an overall economic slowdown is being predicted by many economists. And, the last year has been the hottest job market in years. The upward growth we’ve seen cannot last forever.
If you’ve been thinking about switching jobs, it’s time to stop thinking and start acting.
I hope your Labor Day is great! But, when you get back from that awesome time of barbecues and swimming and loved ones, set a target for yourself. It’s not too late to start looking – if you start now. But, you have to be committed. Start off by updating two things: your resume and your LinkedIn profile. These are both critical pieces to your job search. You will need them. They aren’t optional.
Then, begin looking through new job postings. Check the postings every day and apply right away. The sooner you apply, the more likely you are to get an interview and land a job. But, don’t rely on the internet alone. Think about the people you know who work at the companies you’re applying to. Ask for their help. You’d be surprised to know how many people get a bonus at work if they refer a friend who was hired. This is an extra incentive for your friend to help get you in front of the right person.
And, use LinkedIn as more than online resume. Use it to find people who work at the company. If you can, use LinkedIn to look up the hiring managers (the bosses) for the jobs you’re applying to. If you find the hiring manager, use the opportunity to network with them and to let them know you’re interested in their job posting.
Whatever you do, don’t fall into a common trap. Many job seekers only apply for a handful of jobs and assume one will come through. If you are sure you want to make a change, you need to apply for more jobs. My goal for you is to apply to ten jobs per week. If you do this consistently, you will eventually find a new job. And, that new job just might provide you with a little more of the development, productivity, and prosperity that Labor Day is all about!
Job interviews are full of bias. Very often, it’s unconscious. Companies want to be fair. They don’t often realize where they may be biased. That’s where rules around interviewing come in. There are certain laws in place to help minimize bias in the job search process. These laws are to protect the job seeker.
For example, a company is not allowed to ask your age. We can all agree that this is a good thing. When we’re interviewing, it feels like we’re always too old or too young for a job. But, keeping our age a secret helps us to be considered – based on our skills and work experience.
Two other questions employers are not allowed to ask are: Are you married? Do you have children?
This may seem strange. Perhaps the interviewer just wants to get to know more about a person. The problem is, there is quite a bit of bias that can be introduced through these questions. And, it has nothing to do with your skills or work experience.
You may wonder what bias could be created. Sometimes, a hiring manager loves it if you are single with no children. They might think that you can work long hours. Other times, a hiring manager may worry that with so few commitments, a single person can pick up and leave more easily. There are also times when, if you have no children, the hiring manager may wonder if you will start having children soon and may be out on parental leave.
These guesses are assumptions. And, they may have no connection to reality. A single person can be just as distracted as a person with children. Or, a person with children can work just as hard as someone who is single. This is why these questions are both inappropriate and illegal in the job interview.
Unfortunately, a shocking number of companies are finding a way to ask these questions. They’re packaging it up with relocation. In the very first phone screen, many companies will ask out of town candidates about relocation. But, they don’t ask, “Will you relocate?” Instead, they say, “So, when it comes to relocation, what exactly will you be relocating? I mean, will you be relocating alone, or will some other family members be relocating with you?”
These questions are all getting at two issues: Are you married? Do you have children?
This question is unnecessary. It flies in the face of laws in place to make the job search process fairer. And, it happens often. When asked this question, the job seeker is left with few choices. You can answer and stay in the running for the job. Or, you can refuse to answer and be perceived as difficult.
If you are asked questions like this, you may want to consider sharing your experience on the public forum Glassdoor.com. Glassdoor allows you to share feedback about your interview experience.
There’s a new question emerging in the world of job seeking. It’s something I never expected. It doesn’t happen in every interview, but it happens enough that it’s worth mentioning. As you grow in your career, companies expect more. More senior roles require more experience. Job descriptions will ask for ten or fifteen years of experience in a particular field. If you have the ten or fifteen years of experience, this can seem like a great thing. You’ve finally arrived!
Throughout your career, you go through different phases. Perhaps there was a time when you were doing detailed, fundamental work (maybe right out of college). There was another time when you learned to manage people. Or, another phase where you learned to managed vendors and cross departmental relationships. You career has been an evolution.
You go into a job interview, ready to share the ten or fifteen years of accumulated experience that you bring to the table. You finally meet all of the requirements on the job description (or at least most of them). The question you aren’t expecting comes out of nowhere. The recruiter says, “Tell me about yourself.” That part is doable. You’re ready! Then, the recruiter says, “…but keep it to the last five years. We only want to know about the last five years. Recent experience is all that counts here.”
This question has been a bit baffling. The company wants ten or fifteen years of experience. And, it’s all those years that truly makes you qualified. But, if you’ve got to limit your answer to the last five years, you may miss out on half or two thirds of your experience. It’s one thing to be brief in an answer. It makes sense to be concise. But, it’s a completely different thing to omit large chunks of your professional background.
It feels like companies are asking for fifteen years of experience, packed into a five year time frame. This expectation seems to be an unusually high burden on the job seeker. I have to wonder how this strategy is impacting the companies that are using it. Are they able to find people with fifteen years of experience, who have done some of everything in the last five years?
This criteria doesn’t seem to favor young workers or older workers. Young workers don’t have enough experience to meet the minimum requirements. And, older workers very likely haven’t covered every inch of everything within the last five.
Whatever happened to being able to do the job? When I hire someone, I want someone who can do that job. The details of when or where they got the experience leading up to that point are much less important. A job interview should not be a computer game or a puzzle. It’s an opportunity for a company to find a motivated, experienced person who is dedicated and willing to do the work at hand.
Job searching is hard work. That saying “getting a job is a job” couldn’t be truer than it is right now. I hear from job seekers every day who are struggling, and rightfully so. But, it may not be for the reasons they think.
When I ask a job seeker what it is that’s causing problems with their job search, they typically know the answer right away. First, they’re over qualified. They are too old. They studied the wrong thing in school. They wonder if they need to get a new haircut, go back to school, and change careers completely. A new haircut never hurt anyone. But, let’s take a deeper look.
The next questions I typically ask the job seeker are these: How are you applying for jobs? How many jobs have you applied to lately?
Very often, I learn that the job seeker is applying online. It’s the only way they’re looking for a job, and it’s the only way they’re applying. So, although ageism is real, it’s possible the company doesn’t know their age because they’ve never even seen the person’s application.
I know that companies tell job seekers, “Apply online. If you’re a good fit we’ll call you.” It’s just not true. Sure, sometimes miracles happen. But, it’s not the norm.
Think of it this way. If you were hiring someone, how would you go about finding that person? Would you want to sort through 200 resumes that were submitted on the internet by strangers? I bet that you would ask around. You’d ask the people that you know if they are interested, or if they know anyone who is interested.
In order for applying online to work as designed, a number of things need to go smoothly. First, the online system would need to be smart enough to find the best applicants. Then, the HR recruiter would have to be knowledgeable enough about the role to select the best candidates to screen. Then, the hiring manager (the future boss) would have to trust the judgement of the HR recruiter. And, the hiring manager would have to rely on the online process to screen for candidates. This is a lot that has to go right!
Instead of relying on the online process, become someone the company knows. Network with people who work at the company. Ask for coffee meetings. Talk to friends who have connections at the company. Locate the hiring manager and send them a message on LinkedIn.
And, whatever you do – apply to many jobs. The likelihood that you’ll get hired after you apply for a job is less than five percent. Applying to only five or ten jobs is not likely to result in a job offer.
Before you decide why you aren’t being selected, be sure that you aren’t completely relying on the online process, and that you’re applying to many jobs at the same time.
Job searching involves quite a lot of internal reflection. If you’re looking for a job or thinking of looking, you know what I mean. You initially spend a lot of time thinking about yourself. What do you want to do with your life? Where do you want to live? Does your resume look good? Do you have the right suit to wear to interviews?
We very often start off a job search after a difficult set of circumstances. If things were going great, why would you job search? Very often, you might not like your boss at your current job (or they might not like you). You’ve tried to make it work until one day, you think you will collapse if you have to walk back through the front doors of your office again.
Getting ready for a job search, and the interviews that come from it, can be almost like a healing process. You are finally turning over a new leaf. You’re getting yourself together again.
Through this process, we begin to feel that as long as we present our best self, we’ll land a new job. And, we assume that when we don’t win an interview, we must have done something wrong. Because, it was our job to be our best self and we must have failed at that job. Right?
Maybe, but not necessarily. Listen, I don’t want to minimize the importance of getting your best self together. You’ve got to do that. But, there are a lot of reasons you might not get a job that have nothing to do with you.
For example, a company sometimes puts hiring on hold. In fact, they may decide not to hire someone at all. Or, they may already have someone in the role (as a contractor) and they may be doing interviews just to go through the process. Sometimes, companies do interviews to meet a quota. Or, sometimes the future boss will leave the company for another job while interviews are going on, and the company will wait to proceed until they’ve filled the manager’s job.
The company will not tell you any of these things. At no point will they say, “We’re just interviewing you because we have to interview at least five people.” They will also not say, “Our company is doing badly and upper management has put a freeze on hiring.”
I don’t share this to say that you don’t have a shot. You absolutely do. You have to give it your all in every interview, or you definitely won’t find the job of your dreams.
But, when you get rejected, don’t use it as an opportunity to beat yourself down. Don’t tear yourself apart thinking about everything you did wrong. We can all do better. Strive to do your best and then let the rest go. There’s a lot of the hiring process that is beyond your control.