For most of our lives, we’ve had everything planned out for us. There were some deviations that were permitted along the way (e.g., elective classes); but for the most part, we were always quite sure of what lay ahead of us and never had to really worry about going outside the box. While this may seem all dandy for the first twenty of so years of people’s lives, the shock of reality comes when we find ourselves confronted with a job hunt that is more open ended than we could have possibly imagined.
It’s ironic that choosing a major seems to be of such importance when most students never truly confront the question that is posed to them numerous times throughout high school and college:
“So what do you want to do (with your career/life)?”
Most of us shrug it off with “I’ll figure it out later” and go on wandering aimlessly through college. While this may work for some, there are many others who end up at graduation with little to no idea as to what they will do to combat unemployment.
The most common way that most people go about narrowing the job hunt is to start by focusing on jobs that request for their degree. This would seem to be the most logical method, but this is the #1 way to end up in some random job that you start second guessing before your first week is even over.
Instead of trying to narrow it down from such a huge range of positions, I would start the other direction: Start by looking at positions that sound interesting to you. This means any positions with a job description that you think you would want to do. The reason I recommend this is the fact that there are too many people who find “entry level” positions and try to tailor their resume toward this hollow job that they don’t give a rat’s ass about.
If you find a position that you actually care about and think that you might actually enjoy, chances are pretty good that the resume you will begin to craft and the application process you are about to embark on will be a much more meaningful journey.
Some concerns that may occur to some of you is the idea that you will not always qualify for the jobs that you actually want. For this sentiment, I would put forth the idea that when you find that position you are unqualified for, that’s the time to start working backwards to figure out how to get to where you want to be.
Give this method a try. It might be kind of unconventional, but I assure you that you are much more likely to find your dream job this way than to search for jobs the way everyone else is doing.
When it comes to applying for jobs, the fear of rejection is the #1 reason why people hesitate to be more proactive.
“What if they never contact me? What if I interview and they don’t like me? What if all of this ends up being a waste of time? I’m not qualified, so I’ll probably be rejected anyways.”
The problem with this mindset is that you are leaving your employment status in the hands of lady luck and other people who are not invested in your success. This is a mindset that will only set you up for more failure and making you more miserable, so I implore you to stop this madness.
How does one overcome this innate fear that seems to be encoded into our genetics?
Repeat after me: Rejection is overrated.
Sound crazy? Well hear me out.
#1. When people apply for a job, rejection is generally defined as the failure to obtain the desired position.
To all of you who still think this, wipe this notion out of your head. There are so many reasons why you don’t get a position that there is no reason to even begin getting dejected because you didn’t get the position. Here are a few common scenarios that people encounter:
A) You receive zero communication from the company.
This should mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to you. First of all, there are a million reasons why you haven’t been contacted. Maybe they never received your application, maybe the HR recruiter responsible for reading your resume never got around to your application, maybe they already had someone in mind, maybe…
Do you get my point? The fact that the company never responded to your application should not even bother you in the slightest.
B) You were contacted, but you were never referred for an interview.
Just like Situation A, there are a number of reasons why this could be the case. Some companies contact applicants back as a formality, but in the end they hire whomever they had in mind instead of giving all candidates equal opportunity. I’m not saying it’s necessarily fair, but it’s something that’s not going to ever change. Again, this is by no means a reflection on you, so don’t give this situation a second thought either.
C) Contacted, had an interview, but didn’t get the job.
This is the situation where people tend to have the most angst. After all, you had a chance to interview with your employer and prove that you were the best candidate for the position. In fact, doesn’t this situation mean that you beat out hundreds of interested applicants who were also interested in this position?
Bottom line: Unless you received detailed feedback (like I did) about your shortcomings and why you weren’t selected, you should still be holding your head up high when you don’t get the job. Again, I must reiterate the fact that there are so many variables involved in how companies hire employees that any notion that you have control over the process is only going to do you more harm than good.
Remember, this is the key that will not only serve you well in your quest for your dream job (or any job); but in many other aspects of your life as well. So spend this week to grasp this concept so that you are ready for next week’s post on how to maximize your time and energy when applying for jobs.
For those who are wondering what happened to my 500 word count limit, I’ll be increasing the maximum word count to 800 in order to pack in the more content for your reading pleasure and usage! Hope you enjoy!
First, I find out that my skills were “too junior.” Then, after knowing I was only up against a single candidate and getting feedback that the interview went well…. Crushed. Broken. Whatever word you want to use, I definitely was at an all time low.
Meanwhile, I had received a call from the Beta-Inc. regarding another opportunity to interview with them for a different position. The recruiter said that my feedback on my first interview was so good that they wanted to give me a shot at an invite-only open house. Now while this may sound like great news to some of you, the position I was interviewing for was one that I did not think I was qualified for. Up to this point, I felt my skills were really more on an introductory to novice level if anything, and some of the job description requested for a decent amount of experience (usually around two to five) on things I didn’t know too much about.
After getting rejected twice from both Alpha-Inc. and Beta-Inc., I was ready to just throw in the towel and try and possibly go for another graduate degree while improving my skills so that in the future I would have some shot at actually getting a job in the field. While this may seem normal to some people, remember this: I was already in a graduate program in which I was accumulating some debt (not much, but a good chunk nonetheless), and then on top of it all, I was thinking about sinking even further into debt and quitting my job (because the program I would have wanted to go to would’ve been like $60,000 and in PA). High risk indeed.
The interview was two days away. I had one of two choices: continue feeling terrible about myself and let my own misery ruin a possible opportunity, or I could learn to stomach the rejection and get ready for one final shot before committing to an extremely high risk path. I chose the latter of the two, and spent the remaining time doing all I could to prepare for the interview. Before I knew it, the interview had come and gone.
A few days later, I received the fated call informing me that I was going to be offered a full-time position with Beta-Inc. as an Associate User Experience Consultant.
There are many words that would attempt to describe how I felt at the moment: ecstatic, elated, cloud nine… but in the end, after all the trials and rejections that I had gone through, the relief and happiness that I felt to know that I had finally reached my dream job is indescribable.
Finding and acquiring the dream job that some people believe to be mythical? Mission accomplished.
In light of wanting to move on to tactics and mentalities about the job hunt, this will be the final chapter of the series. In the future, I will be revisiting my story and fleshing it out with more details; but until then, I believe it’s time to move on to things that you can use to find your own dream job. Starting next week, we’ll be starting on topics I believe are critical to anyone’s success in the job market.
As I mentioned before, I had been in the process of firing off numerous applications throughout my dream job hunt. Around the time of my Hunger Academy rejection, I had a chance to interview with two companies for UX-type positions. Thankfully, the glimmer of hope that something else might work out kicked out the rejection pretty quickly.
The first company, Alpha-Inc., was a start-up located in San Francisco. The second company, Beta-Inc., was located here in the DC-Metro Area, but was for a more web assistant type position that would allow me to eventually work my way up the ladder. Needless to say, I was secretly hoping for a chance to move to the West Coast and work at a start-up.
The interview process for Alpha-Inc. was quite tough. In addition to multiple interviews (one being with the CEO), there was also a request for a skill demonstration. They asked me to propose a redesign of a feature on their product. I had no deadline since their concern was finding the right people for the company; but at the same time, I knew that Beta-Inc. wanted to make a quick hiring decision. The LAST thing I wanted to do was accept a position with Beta-Inc. and then have to turn around and change my mind in the event that Alpha-Inc. offered me a position.
As a result, I worked my ass off to finish a proposal within that weekend. I do not have much of a design or tech background, but I pulled all the tricks I had in order to send something I could be proud of. (In fact, I even learned how to use a brand new software just for the purposes of hopefully impressing them.) As one usually feels after spending so much effort on something, I couldn’t help but be terribly anxious as I waited for their response. A couple days later, I received the following email:
Can you let Ben know that we will be passing on him. His UX ideas were good, but his design skills are just too junior which isn’t what we are looking for. Thank you though. He had a great attitude!
All that effort. Poof. To hear that my skills were what stopped me from getting a crazy awesome opportunity was crushing. There were no possible excuses in regards to why I didn’t get it. I knew it was all because I wasn’t good enough. (Yes, I realize I don’t have a graphic design background, but it still sucked.)
So you’re probably thinking, well at least you still have Beta right? Well, you’re absolutely right. I tried to remind myself that I got great feedback on my interview with Beta Inc. and was only up against one other person.
A couple days later, I receive a call from the recruiter,
“Hey Ben. I’m just calling to let you know that the hiring manager decided to go with the other candidate…”