Career Discovery: Job Search

Imagine you are on the hunt for a new job. Now imagine it’s been a few weeks since your job search process began. I think it goes without saying that about at a certain point of applying to job after job, you begin to grow impatient, frustrated, and possibly discouraged, depending on the results of your search. Am I wrong? If I am, then send me some help because it’s been over six months and there are times I am ready to throw in the towel. The job search has been needlessly frustrating, but I will say, I have learned a lot in this time. The two glaringly obvious things I have be regularly reminded of is the disparity of titles and descriptions, as well as the disparity between the job you applied for and how your interview pans out. So let’s dive in.

Titles vs Descriptions

I have found various job descriptions for the same position to be so drastically different, that even someone with no remote knowledge of what I do could read the descriptions and come back confused. I wish I was kidding, but I am not. This makes finding the right position by “title” more difficult than it should be. You may think, “no big deal, now your search has expanded”. Yes, you are correct. But just how vast is this search? For some of us, it can seem so vast, that it then can feel defeating. At this point, if you are anything like me, you are no longer wondering why people say job hunting is a full time job.

Everyone has their own way of dealing with the chaos that is the job search. However, there is one thing that can be so easy forgotten during your search. That is that YOU are in control, and YOU decide what YOU want to be in your job description. (Obviously you are not in control of what any company uses as their job description. That’s not what I mean.) What I mean is that you control your search, you control your decision to apply, therefore you decide that you will accept or not accept any job description. At the end of the day “titles” don’t mean much, so don’t worry if you find exactly what you do with a wacky looking title. It’s what you do that counts.

This is how I maintain control of my search — I like to come up with lists for everything, so of course that is my solution to navigating the muddy waters of varying job descriptions. After all, as Dolores says “I will have order!” (If you don’t get that reference, just ignore me). My lists usually look like: “job responsibilities”, “job requirements”, “deal breakers”, “industries/opportunities to pursue further”, “where I may fall short”, etc.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Where the outside world creates chaos, I compensate by taking that chaos and creating my own order out of it. That’s just me. Maybe you operate better in chaos, or maybe lists aren’t your thing, either way, it is important that you find a way to find ownership in your job description before submitting to every okay sounding title that slides across your desk. Description are way more important. Comment below with the ways you maintain control of your job search.

Application vs Interview

The experience you have in the job search when you apply versus when you land that interview should be seamless. However let’s talk about when it’s not. Now this could go a bunch of different ways, but for the sake of context, I am going to focus specifically on the matter at hand, job descriptions.

After taking the time out of your busy job searching schedule to interview for a position that you thoroughly researched, and are excited about, it’s never fun to come out of an interview disappointed, confused, or deterred. However, how often do you feel all three of those emotions after an interview? Let’s hope never! However, it happens. Typically this happens when the job post isn’t created by or approved by the hiring manager (typical of larger or more disorganized organizations), or when the hiring manager is unknowledgeable enough about the subject and generated a job description that didn’t actually meet the need (typical in newly created positions). Maybe you have experienced this? I know I have experienced both.

This is where we again can easily forget that we are in control. Often anxiety, annoyance, anger, or pity sets in and we forget that we must recenter the conversation in order to get the most out of the opportunity to interview. If the interview starts heading in this awkward direction, I encourage you to remain open. Ask questions related to the job description you were familiar with, or get clarity on anything that just doesn’t make sense. Going along with is, if you’re like me, and what you do is often interpreted differently from company to company, I encourage you to bring a print out of the job description with you. You have every right to pull that out and ask for clarity. I have done that at least twice in the last six months, and in the one interview, I can recall the hiring manager apologizing to me, saying that the job description has since changed and somehow it must not have been updated where I applied. They still politely proceeded to interview me, and said they would keep my resume on file for future opportunities. They also asked me to pass along anyone I may see as a fit for the role they actually meant to post. While you may still feel disappointed, a tad confused, or possibly deterred, hopefully keeping control of the conversation and how it progressed allowed you to not feel all three of those emotions.

Conclusion

Job hunting is a full time job. The entire process is chaotic. However the end result will be worth it as long as you remember that you control the process. First, when you search for the right job description for you, you will find more applicable jobs to apply. However you must remember, that it isn’t about title, it’s about what you do. Comment below on how you search for the right job description. Second, if you end up in an interview that isn’t quite what you expected, remember to remain open. When you hear people out, ask questions, and get clarity, you can leave the interview knowing that even if you didn’t get much out of it, you got something. At the end of the day, apply thoughtfully, see it through, and at worst, you cross one application off your list.

If you are like me, and are in the middle of job hunting amidst a global pandemic, be sure to connect with me on LinkedIn. We are all in this together. Go Wildcats! (Again don’t mind my silly references). Stay tuned, the next blog is coming shortly…

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