After a few weeks in, I can’t help but feel like the process of applying to jobs could be improved. How? I wish I knew. I guess if somebody really knew of a better way, then it would be changed.
First off, I feel as though a great number of deserving candidates don’t always look good on paper. Sometimes employees that serve as enablers of work or progress fly under the radar because they have an easily overlooked title or a person supervising them may be quick to accept credit. These spark plugs, or work-catalysts, don’t always demand your attention or seem like they are the ideal candidate, but they are essential to an effective work environment.
In my mind, it’s directly comparable to sports.
Growing up, I played baseball and football. I played third base and strong-safety, and I was a good player. I was captain for all four years, specializing in what I liked to refer to as “crisis management.” If a situation began to go south, I could often step in and fill the need (or at least enable someone else). A quarterback calls an audible, I scream out a new defensive coverage. A bunt coverage doesn’t go as planned, I improvise. Our team’s catcher breaks his collar-bone in a freak accident before a big game, I fill in for him (actually happened). I was an above average player, but when you have to be REALLY above average to make it to the next level, some players begin to shift your focuses towards academia… but I digress!
Being a jack of all trades makes you popular among other players, but you don’t seem to ever make the weekly headlines in the local paper. There are often no statistics that reveal your influence on the outcome of the game. While you may not seem essential to an average on-looker, without you the team would suffer defeat.
…for those basketball and soccer fans, it is like the guy who assists the assist or plays it up from the defensive third.
In the same way, if you contribute to many different projects, design a new method that improves your team’s efficiency, or simply enable others to fulfill their duties, your real value may not standout on paper.
As my dad was always quick to remind me, “you can hit your way onto any baseball team.” He understood that the typical way to make it to the next level (a.k.a. get the new job) was to master a skill that allows you to shine in the spotlight.
As time passes, applications are now including online portfolios, video submissions, and other alternative methods of applying. Heck. That’s partly why I picked up this blog again!
While this is surely an improvement, it’s not perfect. It seems like the best way to convey the value of this type of player it to listen to those who have played/worked alongside them explain it.
Sadly, many job applications nowadays no longer include sections for references and even if they do, these references are only investigated once a candidate is on the verge of being hired.
This kind of situation stresses the importance of utilizing your network.
Connecting with people who have a direct channel to those individuals with your fate in their hands is now essential. In my experience, you can wait months to hear back from a potential employer, or you can acquire a job within weeks by utilizing an “inside man.”
But what about those job-seekers trying to obtain an entry-level position in an industry that they are completely removed from. What if, like my situation, an individual is on the other side of the planet working in an entirely different field then the one they’d like to enter.
As a relatively well-educated Caucasian male who has encountered this kind of obstacle, it’s scary to consider how difficult this situation could be for other demographic groups who may be further removed from the networks/industries they would like to enter into.
Again, I don’t know how to fix it, but there’s gotta be a way. I feel like I’ve been an overlooked John of all trades for a quite some time now.
A Quick thought on the “Local Candidates Only” Designation
You found your dream job. You meet all of the requirements. The position will start in a month. You have to live in California or you won’t even be considered. But, but…
Taxes. State pride. Logistical simplicity. I don’t know why some positions are only offered to local candidates but it is TOTES a thing. I understand a company wants to reduce the likelihood of a complicated or difficult transition, but aren’t you eliminating a huuuuge portion of potential candidates.
I am currently in China, and am facing quite the dilemma. First, I’ve always heard you should never quit your job until you have another opportunity offered to you. Secondly, people seem to prefer being on the same continent as their prospective employees.
Now, I know what you may be thinking. “But John, you could just make it seem like you’re in the States when you apply to these jobs.” And you’re right. I could do that. But to me that’s no better than lying about your credentials (like every other person on LinkedIn). It seems like I’ll either have to risk temporary unemployment, or wait for an employer to be fine with a candidate relocating approximately 7,200 miles (11,640 kilometers for those outside the U.S).