Remember when scrutiny of workplace and job search practices was so prevalent in recent years? Trendy discussions of “quiet quitting” and”quiet hiring” are hyped by the media as a thing as if it were something to prevent. Feel free to ignore the distractions, and pay attention to what’s more critical regarding your career development and advancement.
There are obstacles you can jump over, and the unlisted hurdle to jump is to start. Once you pass that hurdle, you will see progress and more barriers to jump over or bash through. Although I’ve listed ten, there are many more. But these are one people are talking about, and ones you should ignore:
Lacking preparedness for multiple stops
Problem: Jobs are opening and closing within a year. It’s frequently happening, and you wonder if these were full-time with benefits you worked hard to compete for successfully. When the job ended, you started from scratch because you needed it.
Solution: While I’m not suggesting you look past your current position and leave work undone, I recommend you create multiple streams of opportunities through networking, collaborations, and future-proofing your career through continual professional development. Job search is a lifestyle in season and out—plan on continuing professional development, networking, and pivoting as a way of life.
2. Unprepared and surprised by wishy-washy companies
Problem: One company pursues a top-line candidate to woo them through the job interview process and sends a job off, only to rescind the next day. Two weeks later, they get another offer from a different company with the promise of a written request coming. The same company rejects its original job offer to make the second one below the first one.
Solution: This is today’s job search. Companies, like job seekers, change their minds and strategy in the middle of the process. The best way to control your outcomes is for you to have multiple companies to pursue and for companies to want you. Your job search is still ongoing. Even an offer letter shouldn’t keep you from marketing yourself, at least in a minimal way.
3. Forgetting today’s job search is more competitive than ever
Problem: As the economy and the job market tightens, the competition for job intensifies. During and after the 2008 recession, unemployed older workers took jobs traditionally teens or recent college graduates took as “bridge jobs.” Every job opening is competitive.
Solution: Getting a referral from your network is hard, but it does make a supersede an often-daunting online application first process. Also, joining and participating in industry organizations or association committees, activities, presentations, or boards can give you access to opportunities job boards won’t provide.
4. Not deploying critical thinking
Problem: Job seekers often need help to think of ways to determine the employer’s needs. In today’s job search, there are tools to target specific companies whose problems you can solve. While focusing on your problem-solving skills has some value, you must know how and who you can help.
Solution: My colleague Bethany Wallace points out in a recent article on Lensa, “The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) surveyed employers in the United States and found that over 98% of employers in 2022 consider critical thinking extremely important for job search candidates.” Putting yourself in the shoes of the employer’s thinking is the beginning of critical thinking during the job search process. Those who successfully deploy this thinking understand each employer may want the same skill but wants to utilize them for their organization in their unique way.
5. Not seeking feedback
Problem: An up-level in skills without feedback is an incomplete skill. The best education you receive is the one where feedback is honest and constructive. You can get many certifications without feedback, but without critique and responding to real-life problems, you’re heading through the land of comfort and abyss (see point #4).
Solution: While there’s value in hiring career coaches and consultants, resume writers, and so on, the people who are where you want to be can clarify the best road to where they are. All routes are different, so it doesn’t absolve you from responsibility. The grind is still there for you to do. Have some business conversations (informational interviews) with those who’ve reached your desired goals.
6. You lack follow-up skills
Problem: Every phase of networking, job search, company research, and interviewing success is contingent on your ability to consistently and persistently follow up. Unfortunately, most job seekers spend less time making the second or third call if they get a needed call back.
Solution: It would surprise you most employers are glad you follow up because they’re busy. It’s scary to ask for a callback or an email, even if you’re promised one. But people are busy like we are, and sometimes a nudge is needed. Your competition will follow up, and you will be remembered if you do.
7. Giving in to discouragement
Problem: No one looks forward to a job search. It’s stressful and full of uncertainty and rejection. The longer you’re job searching, the more discouragement spreads through your diminishing self-worth and confidence, affecting your closest friends and family like gangrene. Eventually, it’s obvious to employers, recruiters, and people who can refer you that you’re giving up, especially when it comes across during interviews.
Solution: One anecdote I’ve seen work is to be accountable to people who refuse to give up on you and temporarily cut out neutral or negative-thinking people. Those steadfast in your fight know what it’s like and won’t let you down. The people who encourage you the most will challenge your thinking of doom and gloom. They understand others who are facing the most trials.
8. You’re a ghost online
Problem: The number of employers and recruiters who vet potential job candidates through their online presence increases yearly. In 2011, they might check your profile to see if you have a regretful reputation (drunkenness, bad judgment caught on camera, bad-mouthing an employer, etc.) during a reference check. Today, not having an online presence will hinder your chances of being found.
Solution: A LinkedIn profile 100% filled out with a professional photo is more visible than a scarcely filled-out profile. It’s OK to look at other colleagues’ profiles to get ideas to help inspire (not plagiarize) yours to completion. LinkedIn has written an article on how to create a shape. It’s a great model to follow. It’s better to think “digital assets” than “digital footprint” if you want employers to find you. You want your social presence to be proof of value, not just existence.
9. You fight novel and adaptive thinking and career agility
Problem: All professions are facing changes in skill, supply and demand, and scarcity of some kind. Employers and recruiters (for the most part) are looking for something other than textbook ideas. They are looking for creative, out-of-the-box solutions. Whether you work in retail or engineering, ideas that save money and time are welcomed. The challenge for job seekers is using applied knowledge from several skill sets (hard, essential) to bring new solutions to companies.
Solution: As the job markets change, skills must evolve for growth and adaptability. The professionals stringing job opportunities one after another are proactive about skills and market demands. They are well connected to their network and competition through LinkedIn, professional communities, and applying for jobs. The feedback from these opportunities informs their need for development and additional experience.
10. Online salary discussions get you in your feelings
Problem: If all of the advice about “grabbing the bag” and “getting what you’re worth” has you feeling pressure to negotiate, you’re not alone. Instead of finding your reasons to negotiate your compensation package, you are feeding off of the social energy. While someone could post well-intended testimonies about getting more money from their negotiation experience, unknown details could lead to insecurity. The posts also can mislead people to be reckless by implementing well-intended but not-meant-for-your-situation advice.
Solution: There are cues to listen for when you’re at the proverbial negotiating table. But, if you don’t have your reasons to negotiate, you’ll feel pressure to perform than to accomplish. Researching the market value of a position, conversations with peers and people who’ve had the role previously, and understanding your worth before you start a job search is critical. Not only not knowing market value is essential, but also not knowing what value you bring to the market creates an obstacle hard to break through.
You can easily set traps, snares, and obstacles by not researching and thinking through what you want. Many intelligent and savvy professionals are indecisive about what they want and get trapped in jobs they don’t want. You can’t fulfill your desire for a fulfilling career if you don’t prioritize clarity.
While there’s conflicting advice everywhere you’ll need to sort through, take extra precautions the advice you take to make it apply to your goals. If it doesn’t apply, move on. It’s always better to hear people talk in-depth about their experiences and successes than fine-sounding arguments and sound bites. Many scammers masquerading as experts want to sign you up for shallow programs. Do your own research, get second and third opinions, and get trapped by someone’s timeline for success.