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Why Your Job Search Is Not All About You

Why Your Job Search Is Not All About You

By Kaitlin Madden, CareerBuilder writer

We all get calls from telemarketers. Their generic, impersonal sales pitches typically yield responses like:¬† “Really? Why would I let you spend 10 minutes telling me about your vacuuming services?¬† I have a vacuum cleaner in the closet.” Click.

Chances are you have received this type of call. And chances are you have hung up before you even know what the caller has to offer.

Were the vacuum company to peek in your window for a few hours (creepy — but go with me here) they’d find out you were a single parent with three kids, two shedding cats and a bad case of seasonal allergies. With this new background information, the call might go something like:

“Hello Ms. Murphy!¬† Since you’re so busy you barely have time to vacuum these days, I’ll send my professional cleaning service to your home. In addition to saving you time, our filter-equipped vacuums will get rid of the pet hair on your furniture and decrease the amount of airborne allergens in your home!”¬† Since the telemarketer just solved three of your most pestering problems, you’re probably more inclined to listen to his or her sales pitch.

Vacuum cleaners and allergies aside, applying to a company without targeting your application to its needs is a lot like making a random courtesy call. Employers aren’t going to pay attention to you unless they know what you can do for them.

Solve a problem, land a job

“You have a job for one reason: to solve a company’s problem,” says Debra Benton, author of “Lions Don’t Need To Roar” and “The $100,000 Club.”¬† “You do not have a job because you need or want one; that is irrelevant to the marketplace.”¬† That means you need to stop focusing on what your strengths are and start focusing on how your strengths can help the company you’d like to work for,¬†Benton suggests.

Putting it all out there — strategically

Rich Dukas, president and CEO of Dukas Public Relations, says that targeting your cover letter to address the needs of each company you apply to is the only way to get noticed. “Specificity rules,” he says. “I am impressed when a candidate spends the time to learn about our firm and tells me in a cover letter and interview how they would directly contribute to our business. Generic cover letters don’t cut it.”

Using employer-centric language when applying to a position can also help,¬†Benton advises. “Every part of your communication should be them-oriented instead of you-oriented, from the first word in your cover letter,” she says. “Instead of writing, ‘Dear Mr. Smith, I’m interested in a job at XYZ …’ your letter should start with ‘Dear Mr. Smith, You have an exciting position at XYZ that I’m interested in …’. ¬†Just making the first word ‘you’¬† versus ‘I’ is the start of a myriad of ways to be company-oriented.”

Tina Chen, director of operations at Carlisle Staffing in Illinois, says today’s tough job competition makes it especially necessary to focus your job search on the needs of employers and how you can make their organization a better one. ¬†”Employers are no longer just looking for ‘qualified candidates’ but rather those who will go above and beyond to justify their seat, so job seekers really need to stay ahead of the curve and lay their best assets on the table,” Chen says.

The bottom line:  Employment is a relationship

Although it is important for your communication with a prospective employer to stress how your skills can meet its needs, employment is ultimately a relationship, and you still need to keep your own interests in mind.

“Take a step back, assess the potential employers that you would like to work for, do your homework and decide if there could be a ¬†long-term, mutually beneficial relationship. Look at it as ‘job dating.’ ¬†In order for the relationship to work, both parties have to bring something to the table,” Chen¬†advises.¬†

Kurt Weyerhauser, managing partner at Kensington Stone, an international search firm in California, also compares employment to a long-term relationship. “It’s like a marriage of sorts,” he says. “Most of us who are married realize that we wouldn’t be married if leading up to the wedding it had been all about — ‘me’ or, for that matter, all about my spouse’s interests. The key is to understand that while your primary interest is you, it’s not your sole interest.”¬†

Kaitlin Madden is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, “The Work Buzz.” She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.

Copyright 2010 CareerBuilder.com All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without prior written authority.
Story Filed Wednesday, July 14, 2010 – 12:53 PM

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