This is a cool YouTube TED talk. On the surface it has little to nothing to do with job hunting. It’s about a musician who wanted to figure out a better way to have fans pay for her music, so she could keep making it. Take a look – it is worth your time.
My mother used to say that I had what she called “the curse of spelling.”
It basically meant that I seemed genetically predisposed to finding errors in text. One example: I can open a complex restaurant menu, something I’ve never seen before, and within a few seconds, my eyes will inevitably zoom in on the one or two misspelled words in that giant mass of text. It’s almost a brain condition.
Anyone who has taken a freshman composition course has probably heard of “show, don’t tell.” In fiction writing it means, for example, to let a character’s actions, appearance and speech explain their personality.
THIS: “Larry is lazy.”
OR THIS: “Instead of doing dishes, Larry has his bulldog Albert lick them clean. The ones Albert won’t lick, Larry throws away.”
What does this have to do with job hunting? Too many cover letters and resumes are filled with phrases like “well-organized” and “innovative” and “problem solver.” When you describe yourself like that, how does an employer know whether or not to believe you? Or whether your definition of “innovative” is even in the same ballpark as hers? They can’t – so your materials go immediately to the “no” pile.
“May you live in interesting times.”
-Ancient Chinese curse
We certainly live in interesting times, don’t we?
I decided to start Mighty Forces because I saw so many qualified, enthusiastic, talented people struggling to get a job. Even if you manage to find your way into the interview process, it can be a punishing affair that seems to drag on forever. It’s easy to get discouraged. I know the feeling all too well.
The truth is, job hunting is a game where most of the people you encounter don’t want you to learn the rules.
The good news is, you can do it. It’s not easy or fun, but it can be rewarding, and even exhilarating at times. I’ll do my best to show you how to play the game; the rest is up to you. If you’re new here, you should probably start with “It’s not about you.”
I’m not a professional job counselor, and I don’t play one on TV, either. (More details on the About page.) But I think we can have a conversation that will take you a little further down the road you want to be on.
Just to get that conversation started: what has been your biggest challenge in your job search? Let me know in the comments. Thanks!
The most important thing about job hunting is to remember: it’s not about you.
Employers don’t care about your goals, your dreams, your five year plan, or whether you can make next month’s rent. All they care about is that they have a problem, and they are looking for someone to solve that problem.
That sounds harsh, but it’s true. And everything you do in job hunting that isn’t laser-focused on solving an employer’s problem is wasted time.
How many times have you heard someone (or yourself) say, “I don’t understand it. I must have sent out 100 resumes in the last few weeks, and no one has responded.”
The problem in that sentence is the “100.” Sending out tens or hundreds of resumes or applications means you sent out the same boilerplate information to all those people, maybe fancying it up with a mail merge so the cover letter reads “Dear Mr. Thomas” rather than “To Whom It May Concern.”
That’s a recipe for failure – mainly because a boilerplate resume and cover letter aren’t going to convince your audience to hire you. But also because it gives you a false sense of accomplishment – “I did all this work sending all that stuff out!” – and it takes away time from productive job searching.