New Study: Job Seekers Overconfident in Their Abilities

October 30 2013 by Borja Saldana

‘Get a mentor, you need it,’ say hiring managers

Findings from a recent study by the Career Advisory Board, indicate a widening gap between America’s hiring managers and job seekers. The third annual Job Preparedness Indicator (JPI) spotlights differences in each group’s view of the skills employees need to thrive in the workforce. Some 72 percent of job seekers are confident they know how to present their skills and experience to an interviewer and more than half of job seekers (56 percent) are confident they know what employers are looking for in candidates today. Yet, only 15 percent of hiring managers say nearly all or most job seekers have the skills and traits their companies are looking for in candidates.

Employers to Job Seekers: “Get a Mentor, You Need It”

These gaps, along with the sense of self-confidence reported by job seekers may explain why many candidates have not taken steps to gain employment that hiring managers consider essential: 74 percent of hiring managers say job seekers should have a mentor, counselor or job coach to talk to about whether their skills and experience match those required for the jobs they are interested in yet, only 40 percent of job seekers report having a similar professional resource.

In fact, the proportion of job seekers who would rely on their own experience to decide what information to include on applications, resumes and cover letters rather than seek advice from others including career counselors or instructors has grown from 58 percent in 2012 to 67 percent in 2013.

“Job seekers are doing themselves a huge disservice by ignoring the wealth of guidance and insight a mentor could provide,” said Madeleine Slutsky, chairman of the Career Advisory Board and vice president of career services at DeVry University. “Cultivating relationships with individuals who have experience with the current employment landscape can be a tremendous help in the job search process.”

Job Seekers Talking Trash = Denial There’s a Problem

I have definitely seen evidence to support this study’s findings around overconfident job seekers. Just take a look at some of the comments frustrated job seekers leave on articles dismissing the career advice being shared and you’ll see that many think they know what they are doing. Yet, are they getting results? The answer is most likely “no” if they are reading the article in the first place.

The sad part is, while I don’t mind sharing with people what is holding them back from getting the job (i.e. here are 10 things recruiters won’t tell you, but I will), employers don’t see it as their job to give you feedback like that. So, if you aren’t figuring it out on your own, you could struggle to find work for a really long time.

Smart, Successful Professionals Know When to Seek Help

Getting help doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. In fact, when you choose to get a coach or mentor, it shows you are investing in improving yourself. Pro athletes and C-suite executives all have coaches as a way to be at the top of their game. Why shouldn’t you?

Given the study shows most job seekers think they know what they are doing when it comes to job search, these tips might fall on deaf ears. But, if you’ve been out of work for more than three months, you might want to have a heart-to-heart with yourself and consider the following:

1) You are a business-of-one that must actively sell your services. Don’t get mad at the customer (a.k.a. employer) because they don’t see your value. It’s your job to build up your marketing skills and find a way to prove you are the right candidate for the job.

2) Applying online to every job you think you could do is a colossal waste of time. It’s also the lazy way to approach job search. 8 out of 10 times, your application is being tossed by the applicant tracking system. It’s time to step up the efforts and learn to conduct a proactive job search.

3) Learn new, different techniques for writing cover letters. It’s time to ditch the formal, outdated cover letter and learn how to write one that gets the attention of hiring managers. Otherwise, you are just wasting time because a boring, common cover letter doesn’t get read.

4) Study up on social media and how to use it to connect with employers. Not only does it show you are tech-savvy, it is also where the recruiters are searching for top talent. If you aren’t leveraging Linkedin and Twitter in your job search, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to tap into the hidden job market.

5) Make sure your resume doesn’t read like an over-the-top infomercial. You’ve only got six seconds to capture the attention of a recruiter. Make the most of the top-fold of your resume. Stick to the facts and avoid subjective text that makes your resume feel over-stated.

6) Accept that you must network to get work. There is no way around it. You will have to do some form of networking if you want to land a job. These days, it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you. If you aren’t having meaningful conversations with people in your industry, you won’t be able to establish your credibility and get people to refer you to jobs. 80%+ of all jobs gotten today are done so via referral. If you are petrified of networking, you really need to get help. This isn’t something that will fix itself. Mentors and coaches can be a huge support in this area.

Now, if you are reading these tips and saying, “I’ve done all that!” Then, you’ve got even more reason to consider getting professional help. Here’s why…

There is a wise saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

It might be time to recognize you need to become a student and find your teacher. Don’t let your pride get in the way of your success. The sooner you get help, the faster you can find new ways to connect with employers and land a job. The best part about coaches and mentors is they’ll teach you skills you can use for a lifetime. And, since every job is temporary, getting up-to-speed on the best job search techniques will come in handy in the future.