10 Job Search Liabilities That Might Be Holding You Back
Liabilities can be one of the greatest challenges in securing the ideal job. Limiting the influence these liabilities have on a potential employer is paramount. However, we often see liabilities are not universally valued and, in some cases, what could be perceived as a shortcoming can actually be used to your best advantage. By leveraging years of experience and industry knowledge, ECP helps clients discern the differences and come up with a plan to turn liabilities into valued personal sales tools.
Most Common Liabilities
1. I am currently unemployed
Being unemployed is never pleasant, but just as unpleasant are the implications of being unemployed. People may be unemployed because their company has relocated, downsized, been sold, etc. They may also be unemployed because they are incompetent, impossible to get along with, did something felonious or worse.
While being unemployed seldom helps one’s marketability, ECP can dissolve the negative effects of the connotations of unemployment that may prevent a candidate from getting interviews or from turning the interviews into worthwhile job offers. Our strategies not only deal with the words to be delivered but also the manner in which the message is conveyed.
2. I am challenged by new technologies
Tech used to be an option, but now it’s a demand. When our clients enter into a job search they may be feeling confused already, and when they’re faced with a need to use resources they’ve never used before just to get their message out, it can become even more frustrating. First, we offer core technology in JobRamp, our custom job research and management tool. We streamline and pinpoint for them which job boards and resources they should be using depending upon their custom search to save them time.
In addition, we offer social media training to help our clients get their message out using a sustainable resource that will help their career for years. Our specialist provides LinkedIn profile Optimization and best practice tips to help you establish a strong professional social media presence.
The adoption of new technology takes time away from the job search. Let us train you on the most precise and best technology to save you time and keep you focused.
3. I may be too generalized
This liability has a two-part solution. One is positioning. If you are going after a position that emphasizes a particular discipline, emphasize that discipline. For example, do you want to represent yourself as an Administrative Manager (a general position) who has strengths in accounting, HR, purchasing, facilities and other functions, or are you an Accounting (specialized) pro who also has experience in HR, purchasing and more? Same person, different spin.
The other part of the solution is targeting. Let’s use the Operations and Administration function as an example. For small to medium sized companies, a general background is tailor-made. They cannot hire platoons of specialists when a good generalist can “do it all.” Since the vast majority of companies in the US have fewer than 100 employees, a general background is an asset, not a liability. For large companies, a generalized background may be perceived as the lack of a specialization, and consequently a liability. So if you’re a generalist, the small to medium sized companies are your best bet.
4. I may be too specialized
This liability is similar to the “I have only been in one industry” liability. Depending on the client’s background, we develop communications strategies that emphasize those subsets of the client’s area of specialization that are relevant to the client’s objectives and leave the rest in the background.
We cannot expect a prospective employer to look through a resume and dig to find the golden nuggets. We will highlight the accomplishments and leave the rest out. While all of one’s background may be interesting, we focus on those parts that are interesting AND relevant.
5. I was an entrepreneur
Here’s the problem…Why would an entrepreneur want to become an employee? From the point of view of people on the inside who always wanted to be an entrepreneur but didn’t have the courage, it doesn’t make sense. From here, the logic deteriorates and the hiring authority’s conclusion might be that only a failed entrepreneur would want to go back into corporate life. Who wants to hire a failure?
Depending on the individual client’s situation, we can develop compelling strategies that put to rest any notion that the entrepreneur looking for a job is really just looking for a port in a storm. ECP can show that an entrepreneur who is accustomed to giving orders can also obey orders. Finally, we can focus on the reasons for going back to corporate life, such as selling the entrepreneurial venture at a handsome ROI.
While each situation is different, our emphasis is on the positive.
6. My age is a concern
One would think that age simply infers wisdom, good judgement, leadership and lots of experience, all of which are good things. So what’s the problem? Let’s look at it from the point of view of the 30-ish hiring authority. He or she may look at age and think about its negative connotations: lack of energy, lack of flexibility, inability to learn new things quickly, and an unwillingness to follow directions from a much younger superior. Worse yet, the hiring authority may think that a seasoned veteran poses a threat.
You cannot change your age, but you can mitigate this liability using proper content and personal marketing tactics that wow them in the interview process.
7. I stayed with one firm too long
Most of us are taught that loyalty is a laudable trait. The ability and willingness to see a job to its end in both good and bad times are attributes that most employers want. The downside is the perception of stagnation. Would you hire anyone who seemed content with simply maintaining the status quo? Would you find someone who appeared to have made no progress in the last ten years an appealing candidate to help your company grow? Probably not.
The goal of ECP is to make sure that our clients get the most possible mileage out of their assets – in this case loyalty – and make sure that what might be perceived to be too much loyalty is not seen as a liability. Most people would rather hire someone with ten years of experience than someone who has one year of experience ten times.
8. I have only been in one industry
Why do you suppose a hiring authority wants a candidate who already has experience in his or her industry? The answer is probably twofold. One reason is that they want someone who can hit the ground running with only a minimum of orientation or training. Another is risk avoidance. Hiring someone who has no experience in the prospective employer’s industry is risky. Maybe they will learn fast but maybe they won’t. And if they do not produce quickly, who will be in the CEO’s gunsight? (The answer is the hiring authority).
ECP helps our clients develop persuasive strategies that go far beyond the claim “I learn fast” (which of course everyone claims they can do). We can help you stand out from the crowd, build value in your candidacy, and become the best possible candidate the truth will support.
9. I’m leaving the military
As time goes on, fewer and fewer hiring authorities have military experience, making the chances of finding a kindred soul on the inside of a target company more and more difficult. One of the challenges is to express your military background in corporate, not military terms, so that even the newly-minted recruiter or HR professional can understand who and what you are, and the value you bring.
Another solution is to target industries that deal with the military – one where a military background would be appreciated and understood.
Finally, leadership, discipline, and the courage to do what must be done are just a few military skills that translate very readily into civilian jobs. Consequently, positioning and targeting should be for jobs and industries where these attributes have value.
10. I have no degree
This liability varies in its severity. For example, the lack of an MD will probably disqualify you if you want to become a surgeon. On the other hand, sometimes the degree requirement is a means to quickly weed out candidates, something HR is very good at doing.
There are a couple of things to consider. Why do you lack a degree? Did you flunk out? Have you no perseverance? Do you lack the intellectual horsepower to get a degree? The answer to these questions is almost always no. The reasons for your lack of a degree must be carefully crafted so as to sound like an explanation, not an alibi.
Another factor to think about is this. Does your existing knowledge compensate for your lack of a degree? If so, can this knowledge be woven into your communication strategy? Do you learn fast? Can you prove it?
Finally, think about targeting. Being considered for employment by a Fortune 500 company is a lot harder than in smaller companies where your results are more important than your collegiate pedigree. Often the Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) serves as the gatekeeper, keeping those without the proper terminology (BA, BS, etc.) out of the consideration pool for the beginning. At ECP, we take all these factors into account and devise the best possible strategy, using the best possible communication tactics to generate the best possible results for each of our clients.
If you are struggling with any of these potential liabilities, contact us to learn how we can help!