Take back control over your job search and career!

We all have to admit – job searching can feel somewhat frustrating at times. It may feel like it’s a never-ending cycle we go through over and over again. We might spend our days sitting at our computers looking at postings for jobs that we want but do not really want because if we got the job we’d have to do something ridiculous like change buses 3 times or commute for 2 hours to get there every morning.  But unfortunately that’s all we saw posted online. Or we’ve never heard of the company we’re applying to and their website doesn’t look very promising so if we get an interview we’d really have to work on an answer when they ask us, “Why do you want to work for us?” So often we want to scream “Because you were the only company who had an opening for the job I want!” But we don’t say this of course. Then sometimes when we finally get a job and start it, we soon realize there are aspects of the job we don’t really like. Then we’re unhappy and frustrated all over again but this time for different reasons and not so long after that we end up right back there sitting at our computer job searching again.

Well – I say, let’s take back control over our job search and break this vicious cycle! I do want a job, but I want to find a job that fulfills my needs, aspirations and allows me to maintain life balance too.

Here are 3 suggestions that could work for you:

1.      Know who you want to work for and then look for them

I’m not talking about spending 2 minutes thinking about all the names of big companies in BC that you know, putting them on a list then calling them. No, I’m talking about really knowing who you want to work for. According to Small Business BC’s website, “A remarkable 98% of all businesses in BC are small businesses, providing employment for over 1 million people”[i].  That means, most likely we will not know the names of all the companies in BC that can hire us and we would be limiting our options if we didn’t do some research. The best way to find this information is to go to a business directory. You could go to Yellowpages.ca or some other business directory and compile a list of companies that fulfill your criteria. Once your list is done – call them or walk-in to their office, introduce yourself and ask if they’re hiring.

Go the extra mile and aside from determining the job/occupation you want, also decide the following:

  • What industry you want to work for
  • What area you want to work in (location) or how long of a morning commute do you want to get to work
  • The size of the company
  • The type of work environment you thrive in

2.      Get the inside track on their hiring process

So many people leave interviews thinking they did well only to be disappointed weeks later because they didn’t hear from the interviewer again. 4 weeks after and we’re still wondering – Did they hire someone else then? Could they just be busy and haven’t had time to call me yet?

One way to remedy this from the beginning would be to make sure that the very last question you ask before you leave an interview is “May I ask what the process is from here?” They might tell you that they will be calling back people for final interviews the following week and will be hiring someone the week after that. Or that the CEO is on vacation so the final decision will only be sometime next month. Now we know what their hiring process is and if we haven’t heard from them within this timeframe, we know that we can pursue other opportunities.

If you are comfortable with it, you could also call to follow-up with your interviewer to see if their timeframe is still the same or in the event that they gave the job to someone else – you could ask for feedback on your past interview with them.

3.      Use the interview to decide if you want them too

So often during a lengthy job search we end up taking the first job that is offered to us because it seems to fit with our career path but we do not stop to consider whether the environment or workplace culture is a good fit too. I must say, after sending many resumes and doing many interviews it may be a great relief to finally get a job offer. However sometimes after we start a new job, we may realize that in many ways the workplace culture is not what we want or the job does not allow us to maintain our life balance.

We may have ignored the signs during the interview process. Did you come to your interview on time but then was made to wait for the interviewer for over an hour without even an apology for running late? Interview questions tend to be unique and difficult but did their questions seem to sound like they were warning you about last minute deadlines as well as an expectation that you must work late nights and on the weekends whenever they ask? I’m not saying that we should question everything that happens at an interview – after all, it is still you who is trying to get hired and it is customary for the employer to want to know that you will be a flexible employee. However if you have a little voice inside you that is telling you that you might not thrive in this workplace, you should probably listen closely to that small voice to see if it’s a justifiable concern. Then take a step back to look at the big picture before you make that final decision of accepting or declining the offer.

[i] Small Business BC, BC Starting a Business Guide 2010, retrieved on July 4, 2011 http://www.smallbusinessbc.ca/products-and-services/free-resources/bc-starting-business-guide-2010