Any Job Will Do syndrome – how to cure it and get employed

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 - Article, career change, career coaching, career management, career transition, credit crunch, CV Help, economics, Employment, Job Application Rejection, job hunting, job seeking, Professional CV, recruitment, resume writing


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Creative Commons License photo credit: lululemon athletica

If during this economic turmoil – or for any other reason – you find yourself unemployed due to being made redundant or laid off, then my condolences and commiserations go out to you. You deserve so much better.

However, I dare say I find you reading this, thinking: well, what has this guy got for me? I bet he’s trying to sell me something? Possibly is the truth. But I want actually to start this relationship by trying to help you, and explaining the situation you could find yourself in after 3months of unsuccessful job searching. It is called “Any Job Will Do” syndrome.

If your job application to interview ratio is anything less than 1 interview in 10, have been job searching for more than 3months, and are applying for more than 10jobs a day, then you are probably suffering from Any Job Will Do syndrome. This has resulted in you seeing any job which seems like a bit of fun, or pays well, or requires an old skill you acquired, or happens to be close to home; as now your ideal future career, and one which you happily respond to simply by hitting the “apply” button on the Jobs Board where you found it. However, you find continually that your dreams are shattered, and at least 9 out of 10 ideal job applications result in upsetting “thank you for your application” postal replies – if anything at all.

If you find yourself in this situation, and feeling drain and disappointed about applying for another job, then you are suffering from Any Job Will Do syndrome.

So lets start the diagnosis, and get you employed.

When you were first made unemployed, you probably thought: oh blow, or most likely words which were much stronger than that. You probably looked around for reasons as to why you were laid off: it was the economy, it was the company, it was my boss, it was my team, it was my partner, it was – any combination of the above reasons, and probably more which were wholly unique to you. The first sign of Any Job Will Do syndrome is the waste of time of looking at why you were made redundant. The answer is: unless you are 80% sure you were wrongfully dismissed, get over it as quickly as possible – and do anything with those you love to achieve this. I often suggest taking a weekend away, or just going out – either with your family, visiting old friends, or going out on the town. You need to get back in contact with both why you work (life is about people and having fun), and to understand that your value is not made up by 40+hours a week and a monthly pay cheque. The most serious Any Job Will Do sufferer is probably to some extent still questioning why they were made redundant at least three months after they left their last company.

The second step of a cure is to know what you want to do, and are passionate about. As a recruiter, I don’t see this as early as I see it as a CV Writer, as most applicants try to hide their motivation to HR professionals and recruiters when applying for a job. About a third can hide poor motivation behind a good personality – some over do this and resultantly come across in initial telephone conversations as false in true desire, seeming more like satellite shopping channel sales people. But the only complete test for an HR professional or recruiter is when you interview them – motivation, or lack of it, always shows in the eyes.

As a CV Writer, I see this doubt much earlier, as around 2/3rds of clients hit me with an “I don’t know what I want to do” thought of some form. This is most obvious in their existing CV/resume, in that like many they have developed their career, and hence have a plethora or skills and supporting qualifications that they have accumulated. Often when we find ourselves in an ebb period of our lives, we look back soul searching for when we were happiest. In job seekers this results in numerous ways in which they have written their CV/resume, and hence they create the Swiss Army knife CV/resume, which makes them from their point of view seem like the universal key to any employer. Take one step back from this, and think if you were the employer just looking to cut something – you don’t need a cork screw, or a pair of tweezers, or have the need to fight through them or 20 other gadgets/skills/competencies: you just need someone who can operate a knife.

To cure this aspect of Any Job Will Do syndrome, you need to find one thing and accept another. Firstly, you need to find your passion – what is it that you need to do? If in doubt, keep a diary for a fortnight and write down why you think job X or career Y would be right for you now, and review every day the thoughts you have – a pattern and a job choice will emerge. Secondly, accept that HR professionals will look at skills gained in the past 3years as deployable and usable, and the past 5years as relevant – anything before that is seen as historical background notes. Reverting to old career paths are always possible, you just have to accept a proportional retrograde title and resultant lower salary for a period to achieve this – if it really is your passion. Once you have played these two things off against each other and found an ideal new career path – or possibly two – then use the Jobs Boards and see if employers are hiring for your ideal job. If you can’t find your ideal job, then you may have to look at your options again, and consider assessment of your transferable skills. Many jobs boards and government support organisations provide excellent and free skills assessment tools, most of which will suggest possible career choices for your next step.

Once you have found your future career path, and tested that jobs actually exist in that market, then start applying with a new CV. Rather than your former Swiss Army knife solution, you need a CV/resume which is wholly focused on that career and those jobs, and doesn’t mention things which are irrelevant to that application – and if you need help, just ask and use our free CV review service. When you apply for a specific job, undertake some time to read the employers website, their annual report, and their employee contract if its exists – so that when you do apply for their job, your Cover Letter is focused on that job, and you CV appropriately adjusted. If the job advert doesn’t ask for a skill, and if its wholly unrelated and from an earlier career choice, then don’t mention it. Keep you CV focused and honed like an arrow, so it will engage with employers and cut through to get you the interview.

Employers are human beings, but they expect job applicants to at least be enthused about their industry, educated about them and interested in the job. If you can convey that to an employer through getting over your lay off, focusing on what you really want to do and communicating that in your CV and Cover Letter, you will cure your malaise and get employed – quickly!

Good Luck!

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