Finding the Right Job
Looking everywhere at everything
Every once in a while I hear something on the radio which strikes me as so plainly wrong, I feel I should respond to it. The commentator was giving advice to individuals who have had trouble over a long period of time finding a job, a circumstance more common recently than any time in memory. The gist of his advice was as follows: take off some time to consider what, exactly, you are capable of doing and what, exactly, you want to do. You will be better able, then, to “focus” effectively on your job search. In other words, narrowing down your search will make finding a job more likely.
My advice is the opposite. If, after looking for a long time, you have not been offered a suitable job, you should widen your search. I start with the assumption that it is very important for someone in our society to have a job, for social and psychological reasons in addition to the usual reason, that is, the need to make money. Therefore, it is important to have some job, even if it is not the right job. You can keep looking for something better while you are working. Indeed, you are more likely to find a good job if you are already working. Employers look more favorably on someone already employed.
For reasons I have given elsewhere, it is a good idea for everyone always to be looking for a better job.(to improve interviewing skills, to reach a better understanding of the demands in the marketplace for a particular sort of work, to improve the chances of finding a better job, etc.) Someone who claims not to have time for a proper job search is really responding to the fear of change or to the thought deep down that change for the better is not possible.
I think this is a sensible way for someone who has been unable to find a job to proceed:
- Consider applying to jobs in a field related only distantly to your training and experience. If that wider search does not result in more job interviews, consider applying to jobs that are only tangentially related to your field. It may turn out that such a job is the right job. Look around! Does it seem that every successful person you see was always determined to do exactly the kind of work he is doing now? People fall into jobs that end up being a career. Besides, it is often the case that those who look for work do not know enough to know what they want to do. That is the reason while many change careers. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”
- Carefully write different resumes for different job applications, emphasizing your particular qualifications for each job. Exaggeration is okay. The resumes and the covering letters should suggest that that particular job is what you have always been looking for. If you are going to bother to apply for a job, you might as well give yourself the best chance of getting it.
- Do not rule out ahead of time any job because it seems just a little beyond your qualification or because it would require a long commute, or because it is with a corporation that is too big or a business that is too small. If you get the chance, interview for every possible job. There is time once you are offered the job to decide whether its drawbacks are such that you should choose a different job or keep looking. Sometimes a job that seems at first out of the question for some reason, let’s say, because of low salary or because of inconvenient location, may turn out to have hidden advantages, such as a pleasant working environment or a clear career pathway. Once these become apparent, the job may become desirable.
- I do not recommend that you reach out for a job which involves doing something you think is unworthy. But think twice. I think it’s great if someone wants to be in one of the conventional ”helping profession,” such as nursing or medicine; but there are very many jobs that involve doing something useful, or creative, or helping in some less traditional way. Everyone has to decide for himself/herself. Personally, I think most work is useful and worthwhile