“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” – Serenity Prayer, by Reinhold Niebuhr.
The following scenario is probably familiar to you.
Several years ago, I interviewed for what I believed was my dream job, overseeing a well-known consumer goods company’s contact center. My preparation for the interview was intense. Even though I was nervous on the morning of the big day, I felt prepared.
I was at ease with my interviewer. My charismatic personality helped me establish a strong relationship with him. For 10 minutes, we talked about our mutual love for golf. All the signals pointed to me being in. I left the interview feeling confident I’d be getting a call back or better yet a job offer. Instead, the next day I got an e-mail thanking me for my time… you know the rest.
I was crushed and disappointed beyond words. Years later, now that I’ve made 1,000s of hires, I realize I wasn’t selected because I lacked the experience or skills. I wasn’t chosen because I wasn’t a fit.
When job searching—looking for a new employer—it’s tempting to compare your job search to shopping for a new car or booking a vacation. You envision researching all the jobs available, picking the best, and it’ll be yours. However, job hunting involves many variables beyond your control, including the positions currently available, your competition, and even your interviewer’s mood.
Focusing on the parts you can control will produce much better job search results. (READ: Getting more “Yes!”) As for everything outside your control, admit they’re uncontrollable and don’t take rejections personally.
Here are three things you can’t control during your job search:
- Who’s hiring is beyond your control.
When the job search gods are smiling, your network or a job board presents you with a perfect job, employer, and location. However, most of the time, you’re constantly refreshing job boards and contacting your network, hoping to see or hear of a suitable opportunity. You conjure up the right job and employer to suddenly become available.
However, you have control over your efforts.
Your job search will only progress if you devote enough time to it, which is no less than 6 hours daily if you’re unemployed. Yes, some people seem to have jobs land in their lap. Such people have embraced the value of cultivating, and maintaining, an extensive professional network. They are active on LinkedIn and regularly update their profile. Personal branding is something they take seriously. Consistent effort pays off!
Instead of envying those you think have it easier than you or have the success you wish you had, ask yourself what they’re doing that you’re not.
- You can’t control the job market.
The job market has always been in flux, but the World Health Organization declaring the COVID pandemic on March 11, 2020, has thrown it into even greater turmoil. Technology, AI, robotics, offshoring, wars, supply chain problems, and pandemics are all out of your control. All these activities and numerous others create economic shifts that directly impact your job search.
However, you can control how you react to the current job market.
Understanding the forces influencing the job market can help you target your job search and anticipate which industry is expanding and which are contracting. Additionally, you can better determine if and how your skills are transferrable to a new, growing industry.
- You can’t control whom you’re competing against.
Regardless of your age, you’ll always have to contend with someone younger, more skilled, and hungrier than you. (I know that truisms hurt.) Often your competition is more qualified, charismatic, and articulate than you. A few months after my heartbreaking rejection, using LinkedIn, I looked up who’d been hired. After reading her profile, I thought to myself, “I would’ve hired her.” She had 5 years more experience than me and a better pedigree of past employers. (Yes, the employers you have worked for do influence hiring managers.)
However, you have control over your preparation.
Stressing about your competition is counterproductive. Instead, focus on being well-prepared. Practice, practice, practice!
Interviews are essentially sales meetings. Speaking about yourself, your past achievements, and your strengths, in other words selling yourself, can feel unnatural. Practice, either by yourself or with a friend, talking about yourself as if you’re a product employers must have to improve their business, whether it be increasing revenue, efficiency, or savings.
Another thing that’s beyond your control, the hiring manager’s final decision. However, you can control how you react and respond to rejection. I believe that for every “No” you receive, you’re closer to a “Yes.”
View your job search as a competition. (Believe me, it is.) Identify what you have control over and maximize them to give yourself every advantage, and that “Yes” you’re after isn’t far off.
Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at email@example.com.