Don't Get Eaten by the Bear: A Job Search Tip

job search Apr 27, 2021

Refocusing a job search can simplify your approach, create confidence, and reap rewards.

The old joke goes "Two people were walking through the forest when a bear charged out of the undergrowth. One person dropped down to lace on some running shoes. The other said 'There is no way you are going to outrun that bear.' The first person responded 'I don't have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you!'"

Frequently, job seekers view the company, decision maker, recruiter, or gatekeeper as the opposition. Like the second person in the story, they panic contemplating all the negatives involved in impressing the people during the process. The thought of all the have to do to defeat the bear overwhelms and terrifies them. First, unemployment is the bear, not the company. Second, they forget that all they have to do is make the recruiter and decision maker feel better about themselves than they feel about the other applicants for the job. Plus, they don't need to completely dominate all the others. They just need to convince them a little better than the other applicants.

The following tips will enhance your ability to avoid getting eaten by the bear and let the other applicants:

  1. Recognize that the purpose of every interaction with the company and its representatives (applications, resumes, phone calls, interviews, and reconnecting) have two focuses: A) to make them feel wonderful and B) provide solid information to make a good decision.
  2. Do your due diligence to clearly understand the 3 concerns you must resolve in their mind: A) can you do the job they want done, B) will you fit into their team, and C) will you generate the expected ROI (return on investment) for the work.
  3. Recognize that they have more to lose than you do. Most job seekers worry so much on what they think they have to lose (nothing really) that they fail to consider what the person they talk to may lose if they make a poor decision and hire the wrong person (profits, productivity, good employees, their personal reputation, and even their job). Recognizing who has the most to lose allows people to focus on calming the situation with a smile, slower and more modulated tones of voice, and eye contact.
  4. Provide the information they need to make a good decision. Focus on the information they need and don't waste their time sharing experiences foreign to their expectations. People who share unrelated information hear the word "overqualified" a lot, Prepare short, factual statements demonstrating the results you provided others similar to the results they desire. Ensure your statement contain the metrics in $, %, and # rather than galloping generalities. Refer to members of their team you met with prior to the interview as part of your due diligence. Share examples of working with similar teams from your past. Anticipate the objections they may have about you and demonstrate how you compensated or overcame the perceived shortcomings.

These four tips, which most job seekers fail to consider or act upon can provide a little advantage over the other applicants. Remember, just like the story of the bear. You don't have to outrun the bear. You just have to outrun the other applicants--by a little bit.

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