Top 5 Fears for Job Seekers

8 06 2012

In today’s job market, job seekers face many challenges, and therefore, numerous fears.  Here are perhaps the top 5 fears that job seekers are facing:

1.  I don’t know what I want to do

Many people have contemplated making a career change at various points of their life, but for a variety of reasons, did not pursue a new career – money, time, not sure what they wanted to do, lack of confidence, or other.  Now, they’ve been laid off, and the opportunity exists to make that career change, but the uncertainty still exists.  “I wanted to be ‘xxx’ when I was younger, but I’m not sure any more.”  “I don’t know if I can make enough money in a new career.”  “I don’t know if I can be successful.”  “I don’t know anything about ‘xxx’.”  And, so on.  This topic needs an entire blog post (or even series of posts), but I’ll address it briefly here.

If you do feel motivated to make a change, make an investment of time and effort to explore your options.  You can take online career assessments and do online research about different careers.  Speak with people you trust, who know you well, or have a lot of experience in specific fields with whom you can brainstorm and learn more about pursuing a new path.  Work with an experienced career counselor/coach who can help  you identify the steps in the exploration process, and help connect you with others with whom you can network.

Don’t give up your dreams too quickly.  At the same time, be realistic and balance your ideal with what is real.  Many factors, including money, responsibilities, age, energy, etc. will affect your decision, but without enough information, you won’t be able to make a good decision.  This might be the golden opportunity you’ve been waiting for to follow your heart and pursue your dreams.  Or you may have to be more realistic and seek something that you are more likely to obtain in the short term.

2.  Fear of writing the resume

Who likes writing their resume?  Yuck!  What to say, how to say it, how to format the resume, and will the person who receives it know who I am.  “I don’t like to brag, so I don’t want to list my accomplishments.”  “I am not a good writer.”  “It’s been years since I wrote a resume, so it’s really out of date.”  “And, I don’t know how resumes are supposed to be written today.”

Start by writing what you do know – your name, location, phone, email, current company and job, dates of employment, past companies, job titles and dates, education, certifications/licenses, computer skills.  Start writing some descriptions and brainstorm key words and phrases.  Do research on resume writing – read articles and blogs.  Then, if you’re still not sure if your resume is up to the task, then hire a good resume writer – someone who knows about job search, what recruiters look for, and how to format a resume.  Not a “writer”, but a professional coach or resume preparer.  It’s not about how well one uses the language, but how well the content and format captures the attention of the reader, and states specifically how the candidate meets their qualifications.

You cannot rely on your resume to get you interviews and job offers, but an excellent resume vs. a mediocre resume can make a difference.

3.  I am afraid of being rejected

Most people are afraid of being rejected.  The job search process is very rejecting.  Not hearing from companies or recruiting firms after you submit your resume feels rejecting.  You are wondering why you’re not getting calls, emails, interviews.  You just don’t know why you’re not having success, especially when you’ve never had much trouble finding a job in the past.

It’s becoming cliche, but yes, the job market and the job search process has changed!  It’s broken, it’s impersonal, and it’s rejecting.  Companies have turned over the initial screening process to online Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), and then recruiters screen out from there, using search strings and other variables.

You cannot sit in front of your computer, and hope someone is going to knock on your door. You need to get out and make contact with people you know, and people they know, people in your field and industry, and people in companies of interest.  The more people who know you, the better the chances someone can and will help you get past the ATS and the gatekeepers.  Even highly experienced and highly credentialed candidates are having a much tougher time today.  I have a Senior Executive client who, for the first time, is having to reach out to her network and ask for help.  And it’s working!  She’s learning of hidden opportunities, and getting deep into the interview process quickly.  There aren’t a lot of positions at the Executive level, but she’s targeted her search and finding opportunities that match her background and interests.

You can avoid rejection, but it won’t pay your mortgage/rent, buy groceries, etc.  I know how frustrating and dejecting the process makes you feel.  Get help from your support system, a therapist and/or a coach, to get you feeling more directed, more confident, and more active!  Doing feels good, and every step you make gets you one step closer to your goal – getting a new job!

4.  My experience and skills are outdated

This may be true – you may be in a career path that is going the way of the elevator operator or the COBOL programmer.  You may have not kept up with the latest technology or the latest trends in your field.  So, what are you going to do about it?  If you want to stay in the same line of work, you may need to get some more education and training.  Research the field, network with peers and hiring managers, and find out what gaps exist in your background and how you can fill them.  Consider temp/contract positions to add to your experience and skills.  Consider internships and volunteer opportunities for the same, and to add to your network of quality connections in the field.

Don’t just give up – do something about it!

5.  I don’t know how to network / I don’t like to network / Networking doesn’t work

You hear from everyone – you need to be networking.  And yet, it turns out, that few people really know how to do it.  There are differences between networking and job searching.  I’ve written a ton of posts about networking, so please read them.  You’ll read that networking is about building relationships, which are mutually beneficial.  Not easy when you’re in need, looking for a job, so the challenge is that much greater.  Also, the challenge is greater because people run when they know you’re looking for a job and they don’t think they can help you.

There is an art to building and maintaining relationships.  You have tools like LinkedIn and networking groups to help you make the initial connection, but you still need to know what to do after that first contact.  Again, please read my blog posts about networking, and you will get some good tips about what to do, and what not to do.  Then, I encourage you to work with someone, a coach or a mentor, who really knows how to do it right.  There are a lot of professionals who preach the theoretical aspects of networking like elevator speeches and scripts, but networking is more about conversation and taking a genuine interest in someone else, not having expectations or a hidden agenda, and knowing how, when and with whom to ask for help.

If you’d like help with your job search and your networking, please get in touch.  You can call me at (818) 577-1347 or email to scfried@aol.com.  I have been in the job search world for 30 years, having coached and placed hundreds and thousands of clients in many different fields and positions.  I understand today’s job market, and I am straightforward and honest about how I can help you, and what you need to do to help yourself.

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