Awhile ago, I had posted an entry about two job seekers who tended to....well, behave in a very counterproductive manner, to put it gently. In that time, I thought that maybe my own patience would grow and I would learn to accept that kind of behavior - at the very least, accept in a way that would not lead me to openly mock it.
As a public service, here's where I paraphrase actual things my fellow job seekers have said out loud....and why these might be counterproductive.
- "What do you mean, I need to be careful what I say online because employers can see it? I think I should be free to express myself freely wherever I deem appropriate!" - It's an ever-present issue - the balance between avoiding self-censorship and saying only what's "acceptable." Engaging in intelligent, informed conversation is one thing, but putting out a negative, almost hostile attitude? Even friends of friends may be connected to a potential employer - it's not about being politically correct as it is strategically convenient to avoid overt belligerence. In other words, normal social rules apply online - you don't have to watch what you say, but be mindful about how online behavior may be perceived offline.
- "I only network with people in my chosen field - why would I want to only do glorified cocktail parties?" - Although there is wisdom in networking with organizations where those with hiring authority congregate, there's also the idea of networking with both strong and weak ties. At a time where people have Linked In profiles - but rarely use them to the fullest - limiting networking to a select group is somewhat limiting. And quite honestly, mixing larger events with more targeted networking can be increasingly productive.
- "I don't have time to brainstorm with job seekers - I'm tired of having them pick my brain with nothing in return for me" - Ignoring the fact that those job seekers might make a possible employment reference, this statement should read I only see people as a means to an end, not an end in themselves. If you claim to want to connect - or be a connector, to misquote The Tipping Point - it means you're willing to connect without an overt tangible benefit, and that the payoff will come later rather than sooner.
- "My last boss was a walrus-faced Cthulu, as well as a racist jerk who was seconds away from a myocardial infarction " - It's never a good idea to speak negatively about a former employer, even if there were legitimate grievances (such as involvement in illegal/unethical activities, improper professional behavior, etc). This is a clear signal to any potential employer that if things turn sour, so will your behavior. In my own discussions, I try to keep things as neutral as possible - my goal is to acquire and maintain work, not speak ill of others. (Plus, Lovecraftian elder gods may take offense at being compared to your former employer)
- "I prefer freelancing to a formal job - I could never, ever work for anyone else in an office again" - As stated in a very popular post about freelancing myths, you are still working for someone else while freelancing - all you are doing is taking on a greater workload in acquiring work, performing the work, and various administrative duties. Some people enjoy the benefits of working fixed hours, knowing that their day is structured. Neither one is superior - good job stalkers can fluctuate between both.
- "I don't network to help other people - I have an extremely sharp focus and am looking for information that helps me" - It's easy to focus solely on finding information/key contacts when networking, but something to consider - not sharing information essentially communicates the idea that people are means to an end. It goes without saying that by being willing to share - whether it's a contact, or knowledge - makes networking much more pleasurable and productive. Although the process can feel isolated, good networking allows for building stronger relationships, and being able to build those relationships while searching can often result in better working relationships once employed.
I hope this post can be seen in the spirit in which it was written - we all do these things at one point or another. It's being able to identify these traits and avoiding the obvious traps that allows us to move further in our job seeking, our employment - and our lives.
As always, thanks for reading!