Comedic genius The Real Spark created a mock video of himself portraying a Southwest Airlines flight attendant duct-taping a passenger to their seat. You may remember the story that carried a news cycle or two. The Real Spark’s video went viral and has clocked 5.1 million views, so far.
In his videos, The Real Spark delivers a line that emphasizes a turning point in his stories. With perfect comic timing, he pauses and delivers…
“Hold up. Wait a minute. Something ain’t right!”
Could there be a more fitting tagline for the modern job hunt? I doubt it. Here’s why.
There’s a point when, as a job seeker, you realize the game is fixed or at least badly broken.
You aren’t winning nearly as often as you should be and, as the Real Spark put it, something ain’t right.
In this short article, I reveal easy-to-miss subtleties that make job hunting hard. And these are frequently the culprit when ultra-qualified people experience uninspiring results. If that sounds familiar, read on.
There’s a simple fix. You’ll get that too.
Table of Contents
A job hunt is a turning point in your life.
A new job is how those of us who aren’t trust-funded turn the page and start a new chapter.
Changing jobs is your biggest chance to move up, pivot, get more salary, better benefits, or to go remote.
Employers have always had almost unlimited freedom to hire, fire, change business direction, add and delete whole offices, departments, and to buy and sell whatever, whenever.
It’s possible your job at some point has been to execute one or more of these operations.
Corporate change is a modus operandi characterized by “Change is good” buzz, new branding, congratulatory back slaps about how wise a company is to have “foresight” and be “responsive” and “sensitive to the market.” And the blah goes on and on.
So, why is this so much harder if you’re an employee?
Why, when you want to change, is it looked upon with suspicion.
And even when you toe the line to your linear career path, why are the gains so hard-won and so small?
“Hold up. Wait a minute. Something ain’t right!”
Here are 3 reasons job hunting is characterized by uncertainty, job seekers are easily stigmatized for the contrived “transgressions” and shadowed by an abiding fear they’re doing something “wrong” when the “rules” for how to do it “right” change daily.
Your job hunt puts you in a full-time, high stakes role that renders you instantly self-employed.
As an employee, you probably have little or no experience with self-employment and your job hunt is an awkward place to learn.
Suddenly you’re required to be a marketer, copywriter, and sales professional. These are difficult jobs to learn and execute well, and it’s nearly impossible to be your own client.
What should you do?
Acknowledge this and get professional help.
Yeah, it’s that simple. Save your DIY effort for something else. Trying to save money by doing it yourself is
After the inevitable procrastination that leads up to finally working on your resumé and making the huge mistake of thinking your LinkedIn doesn’t matter as much (it does), you fidget with one or both for hours. Unable to get close to something that sounds and feels like you, annoyed now, decide to get outside help.
A common next step is asking a friend you think knows more about this than you to review and edit what you’ve written. Maybe you think they’re a better writer or they hire people and therefore know how to make you a great candidate. Danger Will Robinson.
Not only do they not know more than you, but they also have the disadvantage of seeing you only through the filter of your friendship. Because you’re friends, they’ll do a speed review out of obligation. You know why? Because they don’t have the hours it takes to review, edit and recompose your materials properly. Here’s the worst part: they’re your friend so they won’t say “No,” to you. They won’t say, “This is important, hire someone to do this right!” If they do, you have a very good friend. You think you’re getting good advice from a trusted source and you’re not.
What’s worse? Neither of you may realize it.
Another danger is that people are flattered that you asked and adore the chance to be “the expert” you think they are. They won’t admit they’re in the dark too. So you can add misinformation and, eventually, confusion to your dissatisfaction. Now you are full-on…
You spend a lot of time, end up with bad advice and little progress shredding your confidence which needs to be at an all-time high but now is making a beeline for the storm cellar.
The biggest mistake people make is buying into the false paradigm that employers are giving you a job.
They aren’t giving you jack. This is a business arrangement.
Employment is not gifting.
Business is business.
It’s not a gift.
The days of job hunting as a beauty pageant where you show up as Your best, most polished self, hoping to be crowned with the job, are over.
For one thing, in this dated scenario, employers have all the power. This is wing-and-a-prayer job hunting and a trap you want to avoid at all costs.
Good marketing of yourself as a candidate is honest, direct and naturally attracts the opportunities you’ve been investing blood, sweat and tears to get.
A job where you deliver the goods, yet where you’re valued and respected.
Takeaway: you will be infinitely better served by approaching your job hunt as a marketing effort.
That brings us to number three. Even if you know how to market, being your own client is lopsided and destined to fail.
In a job hunt, you’re unfairly cast as your own promoter.
Actors, athletes, artists have agents because it’s impossible to be in the picture and see the picture.
Being good at what you do doesn’t mean you have a clue how the system works and how to represent yourself in it.
Advocacy is a vital component of success. Good networking is really getting people to advocate for you.
None of this is your fault. But it is your problem to solve.
The world is full of under-employed people who got that way because alone and without advocacy, they caved and took a too low-level job.
Regardless of your job or the power you may wield at the office, job hunting puts everyone back in the same place. It can be a trampoline to something better or a hellish tar pit of self-doubt, easy to fall into yet hard to escape.
How to fix the job hunt hustle. It’s simple.
If you’ve been taking a salary for over 10 years, you’ve graduated from the “I’ll just do this myself” stage of your career. Those days are as gone as MySpace and Tickle Me Elmo.
If you have over 20 years in a professional career, it’s time to get professional help.
Delegating to experts is the hallmark of having “made it.”
The day an actor gets an agent is the day they start playing in a whole new league.
Someone who will manage your image and not just write your resumé and LinkedIn.
Someone who will listen to you and distill your value from your story to help you make good choices about what’s next.
Someone who will defind your interests and be your sounding board and provide gaurdrails to keep you in the zone.
Most professionals don’t need much coaching. Instead, it’s agency and advocacy that brings the change most employees are seeking.
The stakes are high and that’s why it’s worth it.
The job you get will dictate where you live, your lifestyle, social status, how much discretionary income you have, your vacation, where your kids go to school, the car you drive… everything.
Your peace of mind hangs in the balance. Make it right.
Need some inspiration to bump your confidence? Read this article