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Finding a Job: The Myth of The Magic Bullet

The myth of the magic bullet to solve our problems endures. It’s no wonder given we live in an age of instant Google answers and where so many people call themselves an expert. However, the desire for a solution can grow more desperate the longer we spend looking. Finding a job is no exception because there are personal implications and consequences for our wellbeing as we move up and down the hierarchy of needs. Frankly, there is no magic bullet for finding a job. Here are 6 job and career myths and their realities:

The Qualifications Magic Bullet

The days of your academic qualifications being a passport to instant job hiring are coming to an end. In the UK, about half of all young people have a degree. Your character, personality, and attitude are significant differentiators in the job market. You have to put them across in as many different formats and opportunities as possible. And you can’t do that without being self-aware to identify your unique advantages and managing yourself well to show them off.

The Development Magic Bullet

Forget being spoonfed like at school. Ownership and responsibility for learnability lie with you. That takes time, effort and energy. It means creating a strategy and implementation plan for your personal and professional development. What job searching abilities do you need to develop? For example, networking and social media are essential tools and approaches.

The Career Magic Bullet

The same applies to your career direction. The decimation of careers advice and the technological revolution mean becoming more self-reliant. Support from coaching and mentoring can help you help yourself by asking the questions you haven’t asked yourself and inspiring your confidence to take action. Your initial goals are to get some clarity on your ‘why’, who you are and who you want to be, and what you already have going for you. Then you can create a relevant CV, show your value at a job interview, and be focused and selective in your networking and social media activities.

The First-Role Magic Bullet

Expectations can exceed the reality of many entry-level jobs. Time to change them if you always expect to go in at a higher level. It’s sometimes better to dive in at a junior level at your desired employer, roll your sleeves up and muck in for six months. You are then in a position to go for opportunities you really want that are only advertised internally. By that time, you know the culture, have shown your abilities and potential and can make a more informed decision if this is the right place for you.

The CV Magic Bullet

Your CV alone will not get you a job. Who would give someone a job without seeing them? The occasional footballer maybe. Your CV alone might get you an interview if it’s targeted, tailored, and not generic. Increasingly, it’s not enough without the collateral of online professional profiles. Some companies are doing away with CVs altogether. They want to see the real person in action before taking a chance on hiring them. Alternatives emerging include a video profile introducing yourself and day-long ‘auditions’.

The Job Interview Magic Bullet

A common mistake it to over-focus on yourself and what you want at the job interview. Sorry to disillusion you, but employers are more concerned with what they want and how you can help them. Therefore, your challenge is to find the sweet spot where your wants and an employer’s needs match. That means stepping into the employer’s shoes by doing your research well and knowing your own preferences and when you are at your best.

Ultimately, the reality of finding a desired job and career is one of smart, consistent and persistent effort. Much is down to chance (being in the right place at the right time), change (forced on you or self-initiated), and choice (seeing and seizing the opportunities). And it’s different for each of us.

What magic bullet are you looking for? What in this post gives you pause for thought?

David Shindler

David Shindler

David Shindler is founder of the Employability Hub online learning centre, Director of Learning to Leap and widely respected in the industry as an employability expert. David understands the ‘soft’ skills, attitudes and behaviours needed by employers and can help people improve them to get the job they want.

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2 Comments

  • James CReply

    Great article David and completely agree. A common one I find with the clients I coach is the belief that…’but I have a 2.1 from a decent university… Isn’t that enough!?’ Getting a graduate job is a process of multiple steps not a single event. By recognising this it will save you lots of worry down the line if your jobsearch doesn’t go as smoothly as you hope

    • David ShindlerReply

      Thanks, James! I still find it amazing that some students haven’t yet got the message about grades. I know of one university that is intending to scrap any grade requirement for their degrees as long as students take up their graduate development programme run by a corporate. And some employers have scrapped a degree grade requirement for entry level posts. It’s only going to increase with the Apprenticeship Levy coming in.