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Let the Job Seeker Beware! 4 Tips for the Savvy Job Seeker

Caveat Emptor – Let the Buyer Beware – is good advice for the job seeker.

I find that many job seekers are very naive when they are searching for jobs and reviewing job descriptions.

Just because a job has been posted on a company website, internet job board, or even your College’s job and internship database, does not mean it is necessarily complete, accurate or wholly legitimate.

And, just because YOU wouldn’t consider a specific job, kind of employer or profession doesn’t mean that job, employer or profession isn’t right for someone else.  Different strokes for different folks, right?

Like in every other part of your life as a consumer, when you are looking for a job, you have to evaluate and scrutinize your options realistically before making decisions.  With that in mind, here is a little advice:

#1 – Don’t think someone else is doing quality control on job postings for you.  That’s your job.

If you look carefully at most online job boards you will find a disclaimer that says something like “we do not necessarily endorse any of the positions or companies listed on this site.”

Get the idea? People who run job boards usually do some kind of quality control, but they do not go back to everyone who posts jobs to make sure all the information in their postings is complete or accurate, and they don’t check the legitimacy of every company that post jobs.

So, be a little suspicious if:

  • You are being directed to apply to a Gmail, Yahoo or other personal email address rather than a business email address or web application.
  • They don’t provide a company name or any information about the company.
  • You can’t find the company website or you can’t tell by viewing the website what the company actually does.
  • The job description provided isn’t really a job description but rather a list of characteristics they are seeking in candidates; e.g., “sports-minded people sought for outstanding career opportunity” as the core of the job posting!  Where are the details? How can you tell whether or not you are interested or qualified?  This should be a red flag!

You don’t blindly accept everything your parents, teachers and advisers tell you, do you? You don’t – I know. I am a parent, and I have been a teacher and an adviser!

Why would you blindly accept the information in a job posting without questioning it first? “I found it on the internet, so it must be legit” is a lousy answer, and if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

#2 – Don’t decide not to apply for a job because “you don’t think you want to work in that field”!

I hear it all the time.

JOB SEEKER:  “Yeah, I didn’t apply for that job because I don’t think I’d want to work in that field.”
ME:  “Really, what do you know about that field?”
JOB SEEKER: “Um, not that much really, I just don’t think I want to do that kind of work.”
ME:  “What kind of work? What about it didn’t seem to match your interests or skills?”
JOB SEEKER:  “Um, I don’t know.  I just don’t want to do that kind of job.”
ME: “Okay, so what kind of work appeals to you? What jobs would you like to do?”
JOB SEEKER: “I don’t know, just not that job.  What else do you suggest?”

Now, I am not telling you to apply for everything and everything available (that would also be crazy), but don’t rule out a job opportunity unless and until you know (not think) it’s not a possible fit for you.  Give it a chance!

You can still have the right to say no to a job offer, but you will never get to the job offer if you self-select out of the process before it ever begins.

I can guarantee you one thing:  If you don’t apply for jobs, you won’t get a job. It really is that simple.

#3 – When you apply for a job, don’t just assume that the employer will recognize you as qualified.

You might read a job posting and be convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that you are qualified to do the job.  You might feel very strongly that you are a highly competitive candidate.

Don’t keep this a secret from the employer!

Use your cover letter/email to tell the employer precisely how your qualifications match what they are seeking, not how badly you want the job or how cool the employer is.  They already know you want a job (you’re applying), and they are already aware of precisely how cool they are.

If the employer is seeking specific skills or types of experience, and you have these qualifications, say so in your cover letter and back it up in your resume.

Employers can’t get inside your head.  They can’t read your mind.  If you are lucky enough to get an interview, you will be expected to demonstrate and defend your qualifications in person.  So, if you are a good match, tell them early and tell them often.

Two side notes to this topic:

  • If you can’t make compelling arguments regarding why you are a qualified candidate and why you want the job, why are you applying?
  • If you only apply for jobs for which you are not qualified, your chances of getting a job for which you are qualified are pretty slim.

#4 – Don’t assume the job description is complete, well-written or realistic in its stated expectations.

Job descriptions are wish lists.  Based upon the jobs that need to be done, employers write job descriptions to create ideal candidate profiles, including job responsibilities, necessary qualifications, preferred qualifications and, of course, other duties as assigned (just in case they forgot something).

The chances of an employer finding a candidate that matches the description perfectly and is a good fit with its organizational culture is somewhere between slim and none.  If an employer has listed ten key qualifications and you have seven of these qualification; you are probably a viable candidate.  If you have two or three, probably not.

Looking for work is hard enough as it is!  Don’t overcomplicate the process by not being a savvy consumer.

Caveat Emptor!  That means you, if you are looking for a job.

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1 Comment

  1. […] Let the Job Seeker Beware: Four Tips for the Savvy Job Seeker […]

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