1. The most qualified candidate does not necessarily get the job offer
Many times, candidates with lesser qualifications get job offers simply because they’ve prepared and presented themselves in a more compelling way. In other words, they’re better self-marketers than the other candidates!
In a tight job market, being qualified is never enough. You must DEMONSTRATE to the employer that you’re the best candidate for the job. Depending on your age and how your parents raised you, you may be operating under a “wishful thinking” mindset regarding the concept of meritocracy. This would include the following cultural messages and ingrained assumptions that many of us had “drilled into our heads” by well-meaning parents and teachers:
* Getting good grades guarantees success in college and in life
* Being smart means that you’ll do better than people who are not smart (or at least not as smart as you)
* Hard work is its own reward – and is also the best path to other rewards
* Achievement and recognition go hand-in-hand. In other words, just do well and other people (teachers, professors, employers, bosses, the CEO) will recognize and reward you for it
In a difficult employment landscape, strong qualifications and accomplishments are necessary, but not sufficient, to find a job you love and earn what you deserve.
Let’s say that you’re competing against another candidate whose qualifications are just as strong as yours. What is the hiring manager supposed to do? Well, the answer is obvious – they will be influenced by how good a job you do in MARKETING, SELLING and POSITIONING those strong qualifications.
At the end of the day, it’s the best self-marketer who gets the job. Don’t be fooled into believing that the business world is a meritocracy – it’s not. This can, obviously, be either good news or bad news, depending on how you’ve positioned yourself up to this point in your career. You need to boost your self-marketing skills to the point where you can land a great job regardless of the economic “weather,” unemployment news, or latest Wall Street implosion!
2. The best time to work on your career is when your job is secure
Even if you’re very happily employed today, you never know what may happen tomorrow! To avoid a career disaster, you should incorporate the concept of “Perpetual Career Management” into your professional life.
Vital tasks like keeping your success stories up to date, or networking regularly with professionals in your industry, should be incorporated into your routine whether the economy is good or bad – and whether you feel you need to or not.
Here’s a real-life example. A few years ago, I had a client who was in a senior-level sales and marketing position at a large manufacturing company. He had everything going for him with the employer – he was a member of the senior management team, he had been with the firm for 13 years, and he was consistently praised for his hard work and professionalism. Needless to say, he felt very comfortable and secure in his position. He never saw what was about to happen.
Due to an economic downturn and an eventual acquisition of the company, my client was suddenly let go on a crisp November morning. An hour later, he found himself sitting in his car in the parking lot – asking himself over and over, “How could this have happened? I did such a good job for them!” And worst of all, my client was totally unprepared! He had none of the tools necessary to find another appropriate position within a reasonable period of time. Naturally, he felt concerned and scared. He later told me that toughest part was feeling completely helpless.
What does this mean for you? It means that you should consider adopting a different approach, the “Perpetual Career Management” approach – not only to avoid feeling helpless, but to truly take charge of your career once and for all.
As we said earlier, instead of focusing completely on your job, you should focus on managing your career – at all times, regardless of where the economy or job market happens to be!
That’s the key that will help you to chop months off your next job search, significantly boost your salary, get promoted faster, and never worry again about job security or layoffs.