February 11, 2016

Are You an Expert at Job Hunting?


How many things have you truly mastered?

For example, you must know how to cook to survive day to day. But does your food meet the quality of a professional chef’s dishes?

Similarly, you might like to travel – domestically and maybe even internationally. But how good are you at booking these trips? Good enough to book trips for others and charge for your services?

In both of these examples, chances are good you would much prefer to be the customer. You probably aren’t a professional chef or travel agent.

So, where does your expertise lie?

For example, project managers should be organized, able to write business requirements, and good at leading meetings. Let’s contrast this with what makes someone good at looking for a job: being well-spoken, good at self-promotion, and a strong networker.

This is a short list of just a few things, but they’re all different skills. The skills needed to be a good project manager are different from those required to be a great job seeker. To become a true expert at something, you must do it every day. This is what happens with your day job.

But when you’re tasked with something you rarely do – like planning a luxury vacation – you either get by doing the minimum or you contact a professional to help you. You know you’ll never be the best at it because you don’t do it all the time. And that’s okay, because your career’s future doesn’t depend on how well you cook or how great your travel reservations are.

StrawberriesUnfortunately, when it comes to job seeking, this is not the case. How good you are at job searching can have a major impact on your future – and the amount of money you make. But how can you be an expert at something you only do once every five years?

Often, job seekers say, “The companies just don’t like me!” Or, they say, “They must not think I can do this job!”

They could be right. The company may hate them. The company may think they’re unqualified or judge them on some part of their history.

Alternatively, it’s possible that nobody’s seeing the job seeker’s resume at all. It’s possible the resume never makes it out of the online system.

Does the fact that you don’t have a lot of practice looking for a job mean that you aren’t good at doing the job? No. In fact, in might mean the opposite. If you haven’t looked for a job very often, it could be because you’ve been happy at your current job or because hiring managers have recruited you first. It’s possible you’re great at your job, but not so great at finding a job. They’re two different skill sets.

Before you give up on your search, take a step back and look at the bigger picture. That frustration you’re feeling is probably not a reflection of how good you are at your day job. It could very well be a reflection of just how hard the job-searching process is.

After all, most of us are not experts at job hunting – and why would we want to be?

A version of this article originally appeared on the Memphis Daily News.

Read more in Job Search Advice

Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching (www.CopelandCoaching.com). She is host of the Copeland Coaching Podcast, and author of the career eBook "Breaking The Rules & Getting The Job". Follow Angela on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/copelandcoaching), Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/copelandcoach), and Instagram (http://www.instagram.com/copelandcoaching).