Be selective – not picky – when looking for a job!

I cannot tell you how many times I have had the following conversation with a job seeker:

Matt: “Did you apply for this job?
Job Seeker: “No, I don’t know if I want to work in that city, so I didn’t apply.”
Matt:What about that job?”
Job Seeker: “No, I don’t think I want to work for that company, so I didn’t apply”
Matt: “Okay, so how about this job?”
Job Seeker:: “Yeah, I didn’t apply for that one either. They’re not in my industry.”
Matt: “So what kinds of jobs and careers are you looking for?”
Job Seeker: “I don’t know; something I’ll like; something in my field.”
Matt: “How do you know you won’t like the jobs we’ve been talking about? How do you know they’re not right for someone in your field?”
Job Seeker: “I don’t know; they’re just not what I’m looking for.”
Matt: “How do you know they’re not what your looking for if you don’t know what the jobs involve and you don’t know what you are looking for?”
Job Seeker:: “Look, I can’t describe what I’m looking for, but I’ll know it when I see it.  So, I have one more question.”
Matt: “Okay, what’s your question?
Job Seeker: Why is it so hard to find a job?  Nobody seems to be hiring.”

Don’t you just love circular logic like this? I do.  It brings a real  level of  certainty to the job search process. In this case,  it guarantees you just one thing:

“You will not get jobs for which you do not apply – 100% of the time.

How do you like those odds?

Listen, I want you to be selective when considering your career options. I don’t want you  randomly applying for jobs just because a job is available and you need a job.  But there is a huge gray area between “perfect fit” jobs  and “not a chance” jobs that far too many job seekers neglect.  And worse yet, many job seekers don’t even take the time to define or describe they types of positions they are seeking, yet are perfectly happy to reject opportunities outright as “not for them” without any reasonable explanation.

Former US Supreme Court Justice Potter, when asked to characterize pornography in a 1964 opinion (Jacobellis v Ohio),  had difficulty defining it, but said:  “I’ll know it when I see it.”

Is that your approach in your job search?  If so, I’ll bet you’re pretty frustrated.

Don’t use the “Justice Potter approach” in your job search! It might be a good way to characterize your definition of pornography, bgut it’s a lousy strategy for a job search.

If you don’t have some idea what you are looking for, chances are it (and many other really good opportunities) will pass you by.  Don’t arbitrarily apply for every job out there, but don’t arbitrarily rejected potential opportunities unless you can legitimately defend your rationale for not applying.

Finding a job is hard – identifying a career path is even more difficult – don’t make the process that much more (and unnecessarily) challenging by being picky.

It’s good to be selective in your search for a job.  Being selective means you are evaluating your options and pursuing those most suitable to you and your goals.

It’s bad to be picky in your search for a job.  Being picky means you are lazy and not willing to invest the time necessary to be selective.


Author: Matt Berndt

Career Coach/Consultant with more than 20 years of experience helping people find jobs through resume, interview and job search consulting, coaching and advising. Father | Husband | Businessman | Lutheran | Volunteer | Tenor-Baritone | Youngest of Five Siblings | Uncle to Ten | Great Uncle to Two (so far) | New Yorker to Californian to Texan

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