Job hunting is frustrating especially if you are recently graduated or new to the job market.
I see many people going with the current and blindly applying to any job they see; I see the frustration and ‘blame game’ being directed at both themselves and the people who interviewed them.
Another phenomenon I see are people who feel stuck. They’re unhappy, they want to change their jobs but they can’t for several reasons.
There are people who want to change to an entirely new career to do something different, but can’t find the courage to go that route.
With this article, I hope to share my own point of view that can address all of these situations. In writing it I looked through the eyes of a fresh graduate because this is what I can identify as the most, but I’m sure everyone who works can find it relatable.
If you have ever entered into the job ‘market’ (and potentially everyone who meets legal requirements to work is in this ‘market’) chances are you’ve encountered one of these situations: you created a profile on a job search site and applied for open positions there or sent your CV directly to the company. Or perhaps you created a profile and waited for them to contact you or they called you and invited you to meet.
I need to talk about this ‘market’ before we move on.
It sounds harsh because people aren’t commodities. For the sake of argument and similarities between job seekers environment and commodity markets, I will term it as a ‘market’. In a free economy, different products with different sets of prices, features and values compete in order to be purchased and provide value to the buyer. In a job market, you offer different skills, expertise, and a personality in order to be hired and work.
Sounds obscure? Rather than going into more theory and definition, I will share my point of view in the case of a popular game, Mario. Because we all like playing games and life is in a way, a game.
Simply put; if the job market is a product of Nintendo, you’re Mario, the course you take is the market, the castles are your workplace, the princess is the job you want and Luigi is your competitor (even though he is your friend) and we, HR personnel, are that short mushroom guy that either says at the end of the level ’your princess is in another castle’ or help you run away with the princess.
Knowing how each of these variables plays out and connects to each other is the first step I mentioned in the beginning of this article. If all of these players match well in your life, you will find the job you want. If they are not fitting well together, there’s a problem.
Identifying the problem is the first step. If you want to work and are looking for a job but can’t find any or you’ve been freshly rejected, the chances are that one of these variables is problematic.
A simple course to take is to try to measure the variables that play out in your life. Try to see if they match or not. Go through all of them to identify the problem preventing you from getting a job. Let’s talk about them one by one.
The ‘Mario’ Variable
I assume identifying the problem in yourself should be the first step, as it is the easiest to change.
There are sub-variables that can play out when matching yourself to the big picture and they can change according to you. But the most basic one I can think of is if your expertise and skills match the position, the company and the environment you want to work. If not, you have to change.
Sit down and grab a pen and paper or launch your favorite note-taking app and think through what you need to do in this job, as if it’s your job description. Assuming you’re Mario, what will your typical day look like? What comes to my mind is, first, you’re going to run a lot, you will face obstacles along the way that will try to slow you down, so you’ll need to have an idea of what to do to pass those obstacles or what challenges lie ahead and how to fight the big turtle guy. Now try to identify what skills you possess that can help you in this course.
If I need someone to rescue the princess, I would want him or her to be fast, to be able to jump far, to know how to use the mushroom for power ups and how to control that power, plumbing experience is a plus (because I want him or her to go down the green tubes) and of course I want him or her to be determined, because I want him or her to rescue the princess.
By doing this exercise, you can determine the hard and soft skills you need to possess, find out if you have them and if you don’t, you now have a clear vision of what you need to work on.
All this time I assumed you played the game Mario of course, if you haven’t I highly recommend it. In the game, you are faced with different levels and every time you pass one, the next one is much harder. You should have a clear idea of if the level you want to compete in matches with what you already have. Try to assess yourself with all the positives and negatives.
The ‘Game’ Variable
You have the necessary skills and expertise and your personality fits with the jobs you’re applying to, but you still can’t find a satisfying job or a job that fits you, then there might be a problem in your microenvironment, or if you want to rescue the princess, the game you’re in.
If you find yourself fighting monsters by throwing snowballs at them and freezing them, you’re playing Snow Bros, not Mario. If you want to play Mario but it’s not in your immediate environment, then you have to go wherever it is.
Assess your Environment
Try to get to know the city you currently live in. Try to understand the main economic activities that flourish the city, the town or wherever you live in order to avoid disappointment. Economic activities shape the job market you live in, what companies are there or possibly going to be, how many people live there and their backgrounds. If you determine your environment can’t provide you whatever you want, then your princess is in another castle or there can be an opportunity for entrepreneurship.
The ‘Luigi’ Variable
Chances are high that you will match yourself with a job and a company in your immediate environment. Still unemployed? Luigi might be your problem. He got in your way because one of his own features made him more desirable; his skills, expertise, combined with something else made him a better candidate. One way to identify the specific problem is to compare yourself with Luigi. What made him different?
Assess your Competitors
This requires a keen interest in people and establishing connections. Your undergraduate fellows, other schools in your city, professional networks or your peers all form a profile with which you can assess yourself by comparison. For example, there’s a shortage of people who can speak a second language in your area but Luigi could. He applied for an international company and they had plans for him abroad. He got the job because he’s hard to find. He can bring additional value to the company.
Another way to assess this is to ask the HR department of their honest opinion of you; what made you not suitable for the position and what you should change.
On a macro scale in socio-politics and economics, the job ‘market’ as I mentioned before, consists of all people who are between the specified ages set by the law – usually starting with 16 and ending in the retirement age. People who are unemployed and who fall under this interval are not considered as the total number of unemployed people. Rather, a subgroup of people in this interval who are actively or passively looking for a job and who want to work are considered to be in this unemployed group. This is the market you’re competing in if you’re unemployed.
The ‘Developers’ Variable
The problem might be in the world on a macro-level. An economic crisis, recession or hardship can affect all job hunters. There aren’t opportunities to release more games for you to be a part of, or developers are doing a very bad job. In this case, there’s nothing you can do. You have to wait or focus on something entirely different.
Collect your Points
After this assessment, you need to synthesize everything you found. Now you should have a clear view of how you can succeed.
New variables can always appear, of course, ones that you may not be able to see from this point on your course. The organization may have entered into a sudden emergency mode and canceled the position, or the company could be really unethical, discriminating against candidates based on their race, gender, belief or orientation. It might be a specific case where a single incompetent person in HR or in another department you interviewed with had secretly discriminated against you, assessed you wrongly and couldn’t do his job properly.
Even if you know or not, would you want to work in a company that discriminates against you or one which is full of incompetent people?
All of the variables I mentioned deserve their own article but one thing is for certain. There are going to be monsters, green tubes that will lead you to hidden caves, power ups and downs along your way, but if you stay consistent, honest, open and constructively critical – your princess will accept you with open arms.
Written by Bahadır Gökdemir for Human Resource Wellness.
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