Friday, October 07, 2022

The first question that anyone starting a job search these days asks is, “Why bother?” Anyone who can open a newspaper or a browser sees the headlines every day, and they aren’t encouraging. We are in a “jobless recovery,” where the “employment news is worse than the headlines say.” Even worse, almost everyone knows someone who is unemployed who says that he “just can’t find anything,” very often adding, “There just aren’t any jobs.” What is the point of looking for a job that doesn’t exist?

The truth, of course, is that the headlines are not describing the entire situation. Good news doesn’t get much attention. Even the good part of the bad news doesn’t get much attention. Unemployment in New York is now around 6.5 percent, and the financial sector, a major driver of job growth in this area, has been hiring. So while there are other parts of the country where the employment picture is even better (but do you want to move to North Dakota?) the New York area, and most of the other urban areas around the US where the Jewish community is concentrated, is doing, if not well, at least a lot better than a couple of years ago.

This point doesn’t make us very happy. There are just too many people who can’t find work, and too many more who would leave their jobs in a second if they thought they had something better. What is really going on? Are there jobs out there, and if there are, why do so many people have a hard time finding them?

One of the best places to find information on the job market is the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can find the latest reports on employment at their website, bls.gov. One number they keep track of is how many people get hired each month. The current rate is about 4.8 million. That means that every month, 4.8 million people hear those magic words, “You’re Hired!” So there are jobs out there, and people with the right background and training are being hired to fill them. People who may be very similar to that fellow you know who is still looking. Because in today’s job market, having the skills for the job is not enough. Today, no matter what job you are applying for, you are competing against other qualified candidates. To stand out from the pack, you need another skill, one that they don’t teach in school, or anywhere else.

Job-search expert Richard Bolles wrote over 40 years ago in his groundbreaking book, What Color is Your Parachute? (Yes, you should read it. Right away. This year’s edition.) that when several candidates are competing for a job, “It’s not the most qualified person who gets the job. It’s the qualified person who knows how to get hired.” Let me repeat that point. Aside from all the skills and talents that are needed to succeed in a job, there is a separate skill called “how to get hired.” It is the skill that makes a candidate stand out from the competition, that conveys the message that in addition to being qualified, “I am the best person for your job.”

There are three essential components of this skill. The first is to identify the job that you really should be looking for, the one where it is true that, because of your unique combination of background, skills, and talents, you are the best person for the job. The second is to zero in on the companies or employers who hire people to do that job. And the third is to build the network you need to contact the people who can hire you. These three comprise the kind of proactive job search that has the best chance of success.

Pathways to Parnassa was founded in our community to provide people, whether starting in the world of work or looking for their next opportunity, with the best information and guidance on choosing a career and searching for a job. Pathways provides coaching to individuals and workshops for groups, and distributes information to the Jewish community.

A lot of job hunters get sensitive when I suggest that my coaching might help them. They tell me, “I know how to look for a job. I just haven’t found one yet.” And maybe they do know some good things to do. But look at the greatest athletes—gold medal winners, superstars—they all have coaches. A coach keeps you focused on the things that count the most. The things that are hard to do and easy to ignore. The things that put your strongest message in front of the people who need to see it. The things that lead to “You’re hired!”

The key to success in job hunting is to realize that, unless you married the boss’s daughter, no one can “give” you a job. But you can be the kind of job hunter that finds one. Stay tuned to this column. Questions, especially relating to your own experiences in searching for a job, and comments welcomed.

Rabbi Mordechai Kruger is the Director of Pathways to Parnassa, an organization dedicated to educating our community in all aspects of career choice and job search. Individual coaching is available. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Rabbi Mordechai Kruger

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