The Worst Job Seeking Advice
When I was young and starting out in my career, I had the lowest self-esteem. I didn’t like myself. I hated the way I looked. I was shy and easily intimidated by extroverts and those in superior roles. I left school in Year 11 after some terrible career advice which entailed not pursuing my passion. So shortly thereafter I decided to get my act together and apply for jobs, yet I felt like my heart was going to fail in the interview!
I look back now at the younger version of me, when I was young, fit, well presented, well-spoken and super enthusiastic. I can’t explain my lack of self-esteem, but it was present. As a result, I didn’t showcase any level of confidence. I sucked at job interviews! I didn’t know what to say and how to respond. I didn’t know what the employer wanted to hear, and I didn’t understand why they would ask some of those wacky questions. I made all the class mistakes. I would wing it and hope for the best, often stumbling and walking out kicking myself that I didn’t say something different.
My family knew I struggled in this regard and with the best of intentions they would offer advice and support. It was always the same. “Just be you”. And “They will love you”. I know they meant well, because they knew me and loved me and were confident I was capable of doing the job. But the potential employers I would meet, didn't know me at all and could only rely on my interview performance. To overcome my failings at an interview I lowered my own standards and settled for jobs that were way below my skill level and capabilities. I applied for roles I knew I could do well, BUT I was capable of so much more. Instead of following my goals and pursuing my dream career, I worked in jobs I had no passion for.
So, there you have it – the WORST JOB SEEKING ADVICE IS “BE YOURSELF”
So, before everyone gets in an uproar, let me explain what I mean. I am not suggesting you lie or cheat your way through job interviews. I am not suggesting that you falsify your achievements or present yourself as someone you're not. But if you’re not getting job offers or you find yourself pursuing jobs you absolutely loathe, then being yourself is not working.
You have two options – continue on and expect others to accommodate you, and you should expect to settle for second best (or nothing at all) ………………….OR make some changes and pursue role which will satisfy and challenge you or serve a purpose.
Making changes to achieve success and happiness is about learning to believe in yourself, love yourself, understand what you’re saying and be super confident in what you have to offer to the company. This is what your competitors are doing, and they are getting the job! NOT YOU!
Here are some tips on how you can actually achieve this and become that person and I offer these suggestions, not with criticism (because some of you may have already nailed the brief or some parts of it) but I say this with professional advice and caring support):
1. CONSIDER CHANGING OR IMPROVING YOUR APPEARANCE
Make some changes to your appearance. Perhaps it could be dressing a little like employees in the company (adopting their dress code in a sense), or shedding a few kilos (which is not just based on physical appearance - it’s based on how you feel about yourself, which impacts on your self-confidence) or practicing a warm and friendly smile. It could also be a new hairstyle, doing your makeup differently, or consulting with stylist to improve your dress sense. It’s a well-known fact that health and fitness play a major role in our own psychology and improves mental health and wellbeing. Don’t underestimate how a little physical activity can change how you are perceived as a person.
Physical attraction is hard-wired into our brains and it plays a major role in the world of work. Whether you think it’s fair or not, study after study has shown that as humans, we have certain preferences in physical appearance - we warm to someone who takes care of themselves, a lovely smile, a gentle tone of voice. This doesn’t mean the most attractive person will get the job! but appearance and your self-presentation does play a role in who will be selected for the job. Yes, this borders on discrimination, but employers will never make this admission!
2. CHANGE YOUR WARDROBE
Perhaps make some changes to your wardrobe. Get a professional stylist to help you. Or, if money is tight, ask a good friend for some help, someone who you admire for their sense of style. Shine your shoes, wear clothes that are comfortable and ladies, wear heels but throw some thongs in your handbag if you have some walking to do. If you are a huge fan of makeup, maybe dull it down a bit for the interview. It’s not about glamming it up and being over the top, but rather showing that you have tried. If you love your perfumes, put less on for the interview. Small improvements to your wardrobe increase your confidence which flows onto other characteristics such as how you talk and walk. Fact!
3. REDUCE THE ACCESSORIES
Remove excess jewellery. Don’t walk into the interview jangling like a Christmas tree. Remove those facial piercings if you have more than a few, hide tattoos and shave off those dreadlocks. SOME employers will discriminate and will never confirm that this is the actual reason you didn’t get the job! I personally have more than the usual ear piercings and have had crazy hair colour and styles over the years, but the employer would never know this in a job interview. Save it for the weekend and slowly introduce and reveal once you have the job. Because believe me – they will make a judgment call about you (unless you are applying in an industry where that type of dress code is appropriate – tattoo parlour, the music industry and some retail outlets).
4. PRACTICE YOUR INTERVIEW
You may need to practice your responses to interview questions. See a Careers Consultant and engage in some interview coaching. This is so important. Do not wing it! When I facilitate job interviews, I can tell when candidates are just showing up and have not prepared. Spending a little bit of money for a one-hour session could result in a $50K per annum return. A wise investment I would say! DO A DUMMY RUN – Work out where the interview is being held. Go for a drive if you must. Work out where you can park and how long it may take you during the peak traffic periods. Be early!
5. FORGET THE OTHERS
Stop listening to careers advice from ill-informed and unqualified people. Family and friends mean well and offer advice with the best of intentions, but from where I sit, it’s often wrong! Listen, smile and accept, but always check with a professional!
6. DON’T GIVE UP
This is so important. But expect rejection. You will not get every job you go for. You will meet interviewers who suck at their job. You will meet employers who are rude. You will go to SOME recruitment agencies who seem to do nothing for you. Just keep going. Keep applying. Keep smiling.
No one can make lasting changes and achieve great things without doing the above and/or using the above as a quick checklist to start the process of change. Some things you may have already overcome and have exactly right, but you may identify some things which need work. Do not compromise your values or beliefs. But remember, if you are NOT getting to interview or NOT getting job offers, BEING YOU IS NOT ENOUGH! A few small tweaks are needed.