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How to Best Judge Your Job Search Success

…what every jobseeker should learn from these millennials.


This week, a group of millennials brought the most illuminating information about managing their jobsearch. This quartet banned together as a team and they meet each week for an hour. They discuss the challenges of the week and pool their intellects and creativity to identify solutions for the week ahead. I get to ask questions and listen. They are stellar and I wish I could hire all of them!
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Every jobseeker I know, usually makes the trek through the swamp of emotions that accompany a jobsearch. Whether they are a boomer or a millennial or somewhere in between, every extended jobsearch seems to include an emotional roller coaster.

If you have conducted a jobsearch, then you understand the comparison of a swamp and a roller coaster. The swamp includes the daily drudge of trying to find opportunities. The jobseeker-corner of the internet is filled with heavy mud that sticks from the knees down. The weight makes it hard lift one foot out of the swampy goo to take the simple step. Paralysis may set in like cement.

Then there is the roller coaster. The elation of a request for an interview followed by the despair when nothing comes through. And don’t forget the underlying nausea of spending each day in a jobsearch and answering the question from friends and family, “How’s the jobsearch going?”

It’s reasonable to me that if someone applied for several jobs a week and received nothing back, week in and week out, that after a while, a person might begin to feel invisible, inconsequential, void, alone and meaningless. They might be tempted to feel like a failure.

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Wisdom from fairly new graduates

The failure set-up: The discussion this week with the millennial quartet focused on success. How does a jobseeker know if he or she has been successful? The obvious answer is that they land a job! Uhmmm…Right.

However, when a job search is prolonged, and the jobseeker has gone for months without any interest from prospective employers, it is understandable that they become hopeless and unmotivated. This happens regardless of the age of the jobseeker.


Redefining success: These millennials redefined success. The new definition included their ability to make progress towards a job offer—that counted! Progress was valuable. Success was their ability to come to the meeting with a list of challenges so that they could tackle them—as a group. Success was a weekly occurrence.

The core culprit to jobsearch paralysis:

This part of the discussion was illuminating to me. For years, I have asked jobseekers what they want in a job and for years, they have given me the same answers. These millennial responses were almost identical. Here is the list:


A job SHOULD have:
  • Good pay
  • Interesting work
  • Rewarding activities
  • Room to grow
  • Benefits, including health insurance
  • Time off for personal activities
  • Minimal risk and be a safe place
A job should NOT:
  • Have too much menial or busy work
  • Include bad managers or toxic colleagues
No one wants to dread going to work. But I have to ask, “Is this reasonable to expect from a job?”
Ideally, jobs should be satisfying, sustainable, and meet a person’s financial needs. The key word is: “Ideally.” Although the ideal hasn’t changed, even boomers, who have tremendous experience and knowledge, may have to settle for a job that is less than ideal. It may not be as “interesting” and I can almost guarantee that if a person goes to work for more than a month, the “challenging personalities” will likely crawl out of the woodwork and begin to gnaw!

Many boomers remember their first job. It had more than a few menial activities in their workday. Some of the menial activities included making and serving coffee. (GROAN!)

Another point is that millennials are trying to launch their career! They want a job that will help them do that and that’s fair. However, their first job might not be “ideal.” It might be necessary to take a job (yes…with menial responsibilities), that will align them for a job (hopefully in the near future) for better employment that is related to their career track.

Also, I’m not saying that the job doesn’t matter—take anything you can get. Someone who is great at building relationships and customer service may not be able to sustain high performance at a data-entry position and vice versa. What I am saying is that jobs, within reason, are a means to earning a living. They are not the beginning and end of everyday happiness.

Point: Expecting a job to be the “be-all-end-all” of everyday happiness is to set oneself up for failure. It just doesn’t work that way. I suggest that expectations about a job should be reasonable.

And:
Expect the daily grind of a job to be a bit messy. People are messy. Jobs deal with people. Therefore, jobs are messy. Exceptions are rare.

The Simple Solution to Jobsearch Failure:

There is a way through all of this and I hope that this blog will bring some relief. There are two parts to the solution. Job seekers should:
  1. Manage expectations regarding the job.
  2. Develop tools to manage the messy-ness.
…and that will be the topic of the next blog.



Master these jobseeker skills to differentiate yourself, and stay ahead of the curve.



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4 Responses to How to Best Judge Your Job Search Success

  1. Karl Liechty January 31, 2017 at 1:09 PM #

    Excellent article Marcia! Learning what reasonable expectations are is key for all job seekers and, in particular, for those just beginning their careers. It’s tough to want the ideal situation and understand what reasonable expectations are. Tougher yet to deal emotionally with things one doesn’t like about a situation.

    The reality is change is inevitable: if you don’t like the way things are, realize they will change. Likewise if you like the way things are!

    • Marcia LaReau January 31, 2017 at 4:00 PM #

      Karl,

      Your understanding of the early-career mind-set and their emotional challenges is a real encouragement to them and to me. You always bring insights that help us with a better perspective to deal with our situations. Thank you for taking time to comment.

  2. Jennifer Bulman January 30, 2017 at 5:38 PM #

    I had a friend who was indignant that his second job, with a large software company, required him to spend the first couple of months doing bug fixes. As a programmer he thought this was beneath him. I told him we could not think of a better way to get to know the product, inside and out.
    Job seekers can have mixed up expectations in two ways. (1) Grandiose and unrealistic like my friend and (2) Vague top-level aspirations, so that there is no way to measure whether a given opportunity would be a match, and decision is made based on how the seeker is feeling, not on articulated criteria

    • Marcia LaReau January 31, 2017 at 3:54 PM #

      Jennifer,
      Thank you for your comment and for sharing your friend’s situation. I think your insights are right on target. I don’t think these GenY jobseekers have done anything wrong per se. Their experience growing up has encouraged those grandiose and unrealistic expectations. I appreciate your concrete approach to have “articulated criteria” for decision making. Again my thanks for your insights.