What a headline, I know. But as a coach who helps people find jobs, I frequently see people engaging in behavior that makes me think,"...are you absolutely determined to guarantee that you never get hired? Because if so, thumbs up, Kid! If so, you're aces! If not... oy vey."
Yes, the very notion of having to get a job can frequently key into our deepest primal fears and learned inadequacies. For many of us, it becomes easier to sabotage ourselves, or never even try, all the while kvetching, loudly, on social media about how hard it is to get a job, and that companies aren't really hiring, implying that anyone who has a career they enjoy is a "liar," or a "fraud," or "lucky."
Listen: getting a job is damn hard business even when you're emotionally intelligent, and aware of the consequences of your actions, and you actually want to succeed. If you're going to fondle your self-loathing, if you're going to reward with hard-earned failures, snatched from the jaws of victory, the dark-side of your brain that thinks you're a fraud who doesn't deserve to live out his/her dreams, just save yourself the angst and give up now.
You know the people I'm talking about. Those people who are constantly on Facebook whining about incompetent hiring managers, even as they boast a LinkedIn profile that looks like it was written via Google translate, or a profile six years out of date, citing a location they haven't lived in since the 1990s, a profile they can't even remember the password to; the people who endlessly ask everyone on their community page what they should do with their lives, and sulk when people give them legitimate advice, since they were not-so-secretly hoping that at least one person was going to suggest, "OMG, Becca, just stay you, i.e. stay miserable and self-pitying, since it's such an awesomely fun and hawt look!"
I'm writing this on Labor Day, which also is the unofficial beginning of that time of year when many people promise themselves that this is the year they're going to get their mind right, and get an amazing job. If you are looking for a job, but not having much luck, take heart: getting a job is the worst job ever. You have my permission to give some serious side-eye to any Prozac-popping princess who tells you to smile. But if you're doing any of the six things on my list, you're pretty much bound to stay stuck.
1. Launch your job search in a panic, with no long-term plan, be inconsistent and prone to quickly getting discouraged and giving up. If getting a great job was easy, wouldn't we all have a great job? You want a great job, you're going to have to put in time and effort to create the opportunities necessary to allow yourself access to that job. You're going to have to convince yourself that you can indeed get the job, that you DESERVE a great job. Because yes, you're going to get rejected. You're going to get ignored. Life is not fair, so this nonsense will happen over and over again. You're going to cry in the shower and grit your teeth and TRY THE F*** AGAIN. (Oh, wait, was I shouting? I'm sorry.) But if you create a plan, and if you're determined, you'll take those rejections on the chin, you'll learn from your mistakes, you'll cry under the covers where no one can see and one day you'll experience the pleasure of witnessing the tide of history turning in your direction and you'll be the most powerful motherf****er who ever lived. Make a plan, stick to it, and believe in yourself: you might be surprised at how many people throughout history have changed the world, by doing "just" that.
2. Take each rejection personally: People feel that the world is out to get them. Nope, trust me, it's far worse: the world does not give a damn about you. You're quietly weeping, in the toilet, about a rejection email you just received, an automatically-generated email wherein your name was also misspelled for added heartbreak points, you're feeling naked in front of the world, imaging it snickering at your pain... but no. The world is too busy watching kitten videos and wondering what's for lunch, and hoping that the guy from the bar will call, and sulking because not enough people wished them happy birthday on Facebook and fantasizing about what it'd be like to give Kate Upton a man-made facial. The world doesn't care about you; the world doesn't even notice you! That can be terrifying, or it can also be liberating: the world doesn't care, so it's up to you to plot your course through life and make your journey reflective of your beliefs. There will be many rejections. Many people will disappoint you. You will disappoint many people. Alas. But as long as you don't disappoint yourself, and crucially, don't reject yourself, those other rejections won't matter. Fun fact: Kurt Vonnegut received an estimated 800(!) rejection letters before he broke through... and he saved them! He wrote through the shame, and he saved the rejection notices like the trophies they were. What I find sad are the people who, after one or three rejections, give up. The people who "aren't sure" if their dreams can come true. (Like the rest of us are sure: okey dokey.) Or, the people who don't even start. The world doesn't care, but as long as you care, you'll make your own world.
3. Refuse to network: When people tell me they don't believe in networking, my inner snotty teenager starts giggling. I want to say: "Welp, okay, that's your choice, but like gravity, networking believes in you, Sunshine." All these people are doing is wasting their own time, and, crucially, revealing their deepest fears: their fear of rejection, for starters. They are presuming future rejections, and thus rejecting themselves. Every time you don't apply for a job, you reject yourself. I personally networked every single job I had in TV news, from Russia to Washington, D.C. to NYC, and when I was in my 20s, I was making six-figures. (When I was 25, my accountant shook my hand, and asked to take me to lunch. I told him to get back to work and to eat lunch on some other client's time. Then, he asked me to dinner.) You think those "thought" leaders you follow on LinkedIn got their jobs on Monster.com? The jobs you're most interested in are probably not even offered online. If you can spend eight hours a day applying online, but refuse to attend regular networking events, refuse to join your college's alumni association, refuse to have informational sessions with people, refuse to create the network you need... what's the point? How can you expect anyone else to magically storm the castle gates and rescue you when clearly you don't believe you are worth rescuing? NETWORKING IS NOT BEGGING. (Yes, that time I was indeed yelling. Also, I'm Jewrican and we tend to enunciate at louder volumes.) Networking is how people at the top stay at the top. And before you tell me that you don't know anyone... you sure about that? You personally know every aspect of your friends' lives and experiences, is that what you're telling me? Hmmm. (Shut up.)
4. Have a LinkedIn profile that is disorganized and not relevant to your goals. I've had clients send me links to their profiles on LinkedIn that made me think, "Hmm, is this a professional profile, or some previously unpublished H.P. Lovecraft story, The Resume of Cthulhu?'" I am a very prolific reader, who enjoys many different genres. Indeed. But if I read your LinkedIn profile, and afterwards, have no real idea what you've done, or what you want, um, YOU have a problem. Your LinkedIn profile is YOUR responsibility, the way that figuring out your goals is YOUR responsibility. Therefore, if you write a LinkedIn profile that makes no sense, that doesn't use the tools of LinkedIn to help you, and you say, "Well, the right person will read it and figure me out..." So, someone else, some magical prince/princess charming will decipher your profile -- the same profile that even you are not 100 percent sure what the hell you're trying to say -- and voila, show up at your front door with an amazing job, and presumably, a basket of kittens and a promise of multiple orgasms on every day that ends with a "y," why not? Wow. In my next life, I'd definitely like to live on your planet, since it sounds fantastic, but in the meantime, I'm going to remain here on Earth, where all my stuff is. Here on Earth, successful people are those who take the time to identify their career goals, and write LinkedIn profiles relevant to those goals, thus ending up with, over time, LinkedIn profiles that people in their networks, and/or their industries, can read and recognize, thinking, "Yes, this person has done stuff useful to my company's goals. I have a reason to call this person." If you can't figure yourself out, how am I supposed to? Also, if your LinkedIn profile photo is of your dog, your baby, or a sunset... sigh. I'm going to give you the same look I gave my parents every day, between 1986-1991, every single day, when they asked me what I was doing, and if I wanted to talk to them.
5. Send out form cover letters and resumes. I know; you want to create a form cover letter so you have something ready to go on your laptop, thus allowing you to respond quickly to job opportunities... but no. Form cover letters are meaningless to the reader, they don't give the reader a reason to open your resume, therefore form cover letters are meaningless to you. People who take the time to post jobs want to meet with people who, in turn, have taken the time to research the company and the job, and have written a cover letter demonstrating that process, intelligence and maturity. Hiring managers want to meet with people who have made a decision as to why they're applying for any specific job. (And no, a weekly pay check is not reason enough. Writing that the company "is awesome," is not reason enough. No one looks forward to interviewing someone who clearly has no idea what the job is about. That's like the worst date ever.) You want a job? You're going to have to make the time to research the job(s), to network an introduction, and to craft a cover letter that makes the reader interested in reading your resume. Better to take the time and send out one customized, researched, intelligent cover letter and resume a day, than 10 form letters that will be immediately deleted.
6. Choosing not to learn from your mistakes. Listen: getting a job is very hard. But it's pretty much impossible if you don't learn from your mistakes! If you keep getting rejected, maybe it's time to take your resume to an expert and ask for his/her opinion. If whatever you're doing is still not working, months or even years down the line, doesn't it behoove you to be honest with yourself and try something different? No job search can work if you are not honest with yourself. Don't tell me how hard it is to get a job, if you won't update your LinkedIn profile, or take opportunities as they develop. It's easy, in a sense, to stick to your guns and decide that it's everyone else's fault that your job search is a train-wreck. But then you have to live with the miserable consequences of that fear-based choice. That's the problem with giving up on yourself: it's not a one-time action. No, you still have to live the rest of your life with might-have-been. You still have to live the rest of your life being reminded, on a daily basis, of all the ways you disappointed yourself. You still have to live the rest of your life with yourself. I've coached many people who have admitted to me that the main reason they sabotaged their job searches -- by sending cover letters that were essentially rants, or attaching a resume to their email that couldn't be opened, or not responding when the hiring manager asked for more information -- is fear. Fear and self-loathing. Unfortunately, by sabotaging yourself, you make your self-loathing hungry... and the cycle begins allll over again.
Is that really how you want to live?
Because I think you deserve better.