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Best advice for job-seekers in 2022

On applying for jobs that don’t exist: We’ve often written about the “hidden job market,” the one where companies try to hire without ever publicly listing their openings. But you should know there’s another job market that’s even more hidden — the one for jobs that don’t exist. This happens when you network with business owners or department heads who, upon seeing your skills and passion, create a new position for you, knowing they have someone in front of them who could fill it.

On whether or not to tell a prospective new employer you’re pregnant: You are not required to tell prospective employers you’re pregnant. We, as a society, made a decision to help minimize the career disruption of childbirth, and this is a part of that decision. Sure, it’s an inconvenience for employers, especially small organizations, but they know this is how things are and they adjust.

On hiring a resume writer and then hearing your resume is “horrible”: Everybody’s got an opinion on resume design. The answer is to stop focusing on the resume and start focusing on your networking. People hire people. You need to figure out ways to get connected and have a conversation so that when they look at the resume, they actually see what they want to see.

On being miserable in a job but waiting for a better time to move on: Whenever you’re unhappy in a career, it’s time to change; after all, being unhappy in your job is a lose-lose situation. First, you’re miserable going to work every day; and second, there’s no doubt that your performance is slipping, and your employer sees it. The worst outcome is that you stay miserable and eventually lose your job.

On online applications: Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) weren’t designed to make it easier for candidates to apply, but for recruiters to screen out candidates. Now that applications are done online, far too many people apply for jobs they’re not really qualified for. Companies that used to get dozens of candidates now get hundreds of thousands. So, these systems make it much easier for a recruiter to find people who are an exact match. And that’s why these systems are flawed: The majority of the time, nobody is an exact match. A solution lies in networking so that you can go around the ATS and not get automatically tossed out.

On overcoming age discrimination: Age discrimination is a mindset. The person making hiring decisions has some preconceived notions about what kind of worker you will be. The solution is to disrupt the mindset. While you might think hiring managers were afraid to hire you because you would outshine them, the reality is they were afraid to hire you because you act like their parents. So, invest energy in understanding the latest techniques and developments in your field and ask the people interviewing you for their thoughts. You want to demonstrate your openness and willingness to learn.

On getting another degree: If you couldn’t get a job with a bachelor’s degree, getting a master’s will only make it harder. That’s because companies hire for experience, not education. Spending all that extra money and going into debt for a master’s will still have you take an entry-level job that you could have gotten with your bachelor’s. The better thing to do is to stay in the job market, get a job, and then see if you can get an employer to pay for your master’s.

On facing skepticism about your not having worked during the pandemic: When you get to job interviews, you need to focus on how much you missed working and how you will make sure that whoever hires you will be thoroughly impressed as you will do everything in your power to exceed expectations. In short, you need to show a lot of enthusiasm, as well as humility.

On the trend for remote employees: A recent Microsoft study reported that 73% of employees want remote options to continue, but, at the same time, 67% of employees want more in-person time with their teams. What does that sound like? Hybrid solutions. Will management go along? The same study found that two-thirds of business leaders are looking at redesigning their workplace for remote work. Once again, same conclusion: hybrid solutions.

On being a finalist but not getting a job you really wanted: You want to lose gracefully. When you hear a company went with another candidate, that’s the time to contact the people who interviewed you and tell them that you’d still love to work with them and invite them to think of you as the back-up candidate if the first person doesn’t work out. A large percentage of new hires leave, and if you plant that seed, maybe they won’t start over with a job search but will turn to you instead.

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