Friction In Your Job Search

Now don’t get all excited that I’m going to bash the job search process… I know there are plenty of things that stink. Why recruiters don’t get back to you, why a job application page doesn’t keep you updated on your progress, why salary discussions are so confusing and lame, why job seekers feel so disrespected (like 3rd class citizens).

There’s plenty to complain about… indeed, this is friction. But that is not in your control… what is in your control is the friction you produce… the friction you give off.  And that’s what I want to talk about, because it’s keeping you from making progress in your job search.

“Can you help me find a job? I’m open to anything.”  That is too vague… to many unanswered questions, and leaves me to do the heavy lifting. This is friction in your communication, and my (as someone who should help you) experience.

“No one wants to help me.” This was a sad comment I got from someone in one of my presentations a few years back. Her daughter was there, and she said that no one wanted to help her, either. Friends, family, neighbors, etc.  All were leaving these two out to dry. The problem is that it makes me, as someone who should and could help, wonder what’s wrong. Are they bridge burners? Are they offensive? Do they have serious problems that make them repulsive? Even if none of those are true, the simple, sad comment makes me wonder if getting involved with either of these two is going to get me in trouble.

“Will you look at my resume and tell me what you think?” Listen, too many job seekers try this tactic, and I personally find it offensive. Why? Because they don’t care what I think. I’m not their proofreader, they are trying to get me interested in them and get this resume to the right person. There’s nothing wrong with wanting that, but I feel like they are being deceitful… and if they aren’t completely honest with this request, what else will they be deceitful about?  Simply be honest and say either “I’m getting ready to send my resume out, and want to make sure it’s perfect. I know you aren’t a resume writer, but would you mind taking five minutes to look at this to see if you can find any spelling or grammar errors, or anything out of place?”  That is a direct, specific request, and I know what you are after.  But seriously people, if you want more than a spell-check, then ask for what you want, like this: “I’m looking for my next opportunity, and I’d love for you to see if my skills and experience can help at your company, or with anyone you know and can introduce me to.” Ask for what you want, and don’t try to insinuate too much.

The way you dress, the way you look. Always a sensitive subject, I know. Who am I to judge how you look?  But realize that humans are very judgmental. It’s just the way it is. I’m not saying you need to conform… you do what you need to do. But if you go to a networking meeting baring your midriff, I’m going to have a problem with that. I might find you attractive or repulsive, charming or weird, but the bottom line is, if you dress inappropriately for a networking meeting, I question your judgement, and if I hired you, my peers would question my judgement.  I’m not ready to risk my career on your midriff.

Your choice of words and stories. Look, you might like the shock factor. Or you are the “funny guy.” I get that… more than I should. And I might laugh and react the way you want. You tell a joke, and I laugh.  But, what if it is a nervous laugh? What if I’m laughing at you, and how audacious you are, not because of what you thought was clever?  I might think of you as someone fun to hang out with on the weekends, but no way would I risk putting you in front of my customers, or changing the culture I’ve been building.

There are plenty of other things I could list here… hiring managers who have hired a lot have seen it all. The point is, identify what your points of friction are, and how you can reduce that friction.

Look, I know this is hard. You have to be honest with yourself (without beating yourself up, but enough to be ready for change). You have to implement change in your life, and that can take a while. In JibberJobber we are doing this, and it’s been a journey of eleven years.

If this concept struck a chord with you, check out the other times I’ve blogged about friction:

Friction and Communication in the Job Search

Reducing Friction (In Your Job Search, and in JibberJobber)

And this week’s posts about new features, that reduce friction in JibberJobber:

Calendar Widget Update

New Log Entry Entry Form