Earlier this morning, I left a comment on a Linkedin Discussion entitled “What are hiring managers looking for?” In agreeing with the main line of argument (the system stinks), I expressed surprise that so many individuals are happy to put “blind faith” in the current careers system. Why are people happy to leave their career fortunes in the hands of such a rubbish system?
My comment was forwarded via Twitter, and before too long I’d got a smattering of likes and favourites. But I still didn’t get any suggestions. Why do so many people trust employers and recruiters to provide a good career service? It’s just not what they “do”.
The original article by Liz Ryan used an analogy of a “black hole” that sucks in the resumes (CV), time and energy of the job applicants and leaves them frustrated by the lack of response. I agreed with Liz that the individuals need to re-think their status in any application. Stop being subservient, and start expecting more (to give more and receive more).
I have a vested interest. In response to employer frustrations, my company Bizenko teach commercial awareness skills. My opinion is biased in this matter.
Let’s face it, the system to allocate jobs to applicants isn’t great. There are normally many more applicants than vacancies. It doesn’t matter how you dress it up, or which technologies you use, the basic exchange is between parties who are not equal. The employers hold the power in the majority of cases. This mess can make applicants feel frustrated, and there are never any guarantees of a job (and certainly not from me).
If you look at the careers industry, it encourages everyone to obsess about the “killer resume” or “fail-safe interview technique”, as if it is the process that will establish and then save your career. The careers industry think that perfecting your job-application skills is career advice. No it isn’t! Application skills are important, but they don’t pay the bills over time. If the process demands that you waste your time, then demand to change the process.
The problem with this mess, is that you risk being left totally stranded and exhausted if you haven’t had any luck in the job allocation lottery. Certainly at the “first-job” stage in life, you can’t really afford to be ignored. You need some income and you need some training to make a career start. There are lots of people competing for your job (and more graduating next year)
According to employers, the skill that entry-level job applicants need in order to avoid “stagnation” is to understand about commercial expertise. For example, “What is it that makes organisations “work”? What value can I add to this employer?”. “Why do companies think like they do?” You should never stop learning this stuff, the more you learn the better.
And by the way, you need to know this stuff if you’re going to work for both“for-profit” and “not-for-profit” organisations. If anyone tells you otherwise, ignore them! This “Commercial awareness skill” is the one that employers miss most in applicants, and yet it isn’t taught in education. It can get worse, due to inevitable financial pressures, your job might only train you in this skill for the bare minimum. The rest is up to you.
Employers want people with commercial awareness, and yet the job application system depends on applicants being a little bit commercially naïve and pliant. If you were an employee and spent as much time and energy completing a task, but getting as little “return” as the typical job-hunter does, then you wouldn’t get a very good appraisal. Your employer would expect you to think around the problem, to suggest improvements.
Where are the revolutionaries demanding better from a flawed system?