Looking for a job can be confusing. It’s all very well being told to go for your ideal job, that settling for anything less puts you in the same position as you were in before, i.e. bored and frustrated within six months. But really, how many of us truly ever get our dream jobs? Surely, there must be a point when you have to say, enough is enough – I need a job and I don’t mind what it is?
“I always tell people that it could take six months or more to find a job,” says career coach Denise Taylor. “If you’ve been looking for six months and not even been short listed, you’ve got to ask yourself why? Are you really as good as you think you are? Do you have the right qualifications for the role you are applying for?”
This can be especially problematic when you are an older worker up against younger recruits. You may have worked in marketing for years but you may not possess all the marketing qualifications that a graduate straight out of university holds. The answer here is to focus on gaining more relevant qualifications or, if you’re targeting a marketing manager’s role, perhaps downshifting your goal to a marketing executive role where the qualifications aren’t quite so important.
The danger here of course, is that employers won’t offer you a job if you’re much too overqualified for it. On the flip side, if you can take a job, even if it isn’t your ideal job, it shows a willingness to work and gives you an income. It also fills what could have been a gaping hole on your CV – even in the midst of a recession, if there’s a large gap in your CV, recruiters will still want to know why you have taken so long to find a job.
“If you apply for a role that you’re overqualified for, use your time smartly,” says Denise. “Have clear reasons why this job is going to be useful and why it’s going to impress the recruiters. For example, if you have been a retail manager previously, working as a sales assistant on the shop floor could be a viable move. If you’ve been a call centre manager, you could conceivably take a job answering calls. Treat these jobs as if you were an undercover researcher – you’re getting the opportunity to see both sides of a company, so look at how things could be improved, how staff are managed and how staff could be motivated better.”
However, Denise advises against returning to a job that you’ve done before and hated. Many people do this, kidding themselves that they’ll only do it for six months while they look for something better. “The problem with this is that it takes up all your energy learning the new job, so you don’t have any energy left to keep looking for another one,” says Denise. “You would need to stay in this job for at least six months before you start applying for another one, otherwise it will raise some tricky questions. Instead of taking any old job again, I advise my clients to think about temporary positions, internships or even day consultancy if you’re at a senior level.”
Equally Denise warns against chasing a totally unrealistic ‘dream’ job that you’re completely unsuited for. “You have to balance your ideal job with your capability,” she says. “Be honest with yourself and get others to be honest with you.”
So, before you settle for second best, book yourself in for a consultation with a career coach, scrutinise your job hunting techniques, and get professional help with your CV and covering letter. Your dream job could be just around the corner.
Denise Taylor is an award-winning career coach and author. Visit her website at www.amazingpeople.co.uk
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