The harsh truth on why some people are jobless and remain jobless. Don’t read this if you are faint-hearted.
To start off, I thoroughly know how it feels to be unemployed. I sent 525 resumes over 561 days after being fired from my first full-time job after university. That story was even featured on news outlets like The Age and News.com.au.
561 days. Of sitting behind the computer, looking through job sites and sending out applications hoping that I would be noticed and get a reply.
After hundred of days of job searching, I knew that I needed to change something – my tactics, approach, strategies – whatever you call it.
I had enough of this sh*t of being ignored by companies and resorting to underemployment (getting a job way below your deserved paygrade so that you can survive to pay the bills).
When I applied a number of changes, things changed.
In November 2014, the time between application and job offer for my role as a business trainer was just 12 days.
And only recently in October 2015, I applied for a new job as an internships consultant. The time between application and job offer this time was a mere 8 days.
Through this career journey and of coaching hundreds of university students and job seekers, I noticed a number of things which kept people from getting employed.
1. They are just talkers
These people are just full of excuses and bear little or no execution.
They blame this and that. The economy is tough. Times are hard. The job market is difficult. I’m an international student. I have visa issues. I didn’t major in this or that. I didn’t graduate from a prestigious university. I have little or no extra-curricular activities. I’m too shy to network. I’ll just see how things go. The interviewers were tough. Too many people applied for the position. I don’t have enough time.
Lousy response. Absolute crap. Not good enough.
Do you think this is good enough?
Do you think the employer is going to get you onboard based on your excuses?
You know the answer!
Too many people say that they hate their situation. Problem is, they just talk about it and not do anything about it. And because they don’t do anything about it, the situation continues to suck. Which makes them whine and complain again. And the cycle continues and repeats itself.
One quote which hits be hard over and over again is this: If you want to get to where you have never been before, then you would need to do things which you have never done before.
An ounce of action is worth more than a ton of theory.
2. They aren’t willing to do whatever it takes
In a tough situation, too many people give up too quickly and too easily.
I spoke to a couple of students and advised them to get out there and network with potential employers. And also to start doing something that gives them a competitive edge (start their own project, volunteer, work part-time, get an internship).
They all agree that it’s helpful.
But what happens in reality?
Many don’t do it.
They think it’s just a good idea but their passion stops there.
Okay, fine…they can think or say as much as they like. But the truth is, they are still mostly jobless and still stuck in the same situation.
What’s shocking is that some have been stuck in the SAME place for 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, etc.
3. They don’t innovate
Albert Einstein said this: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
I’ve met job seekers who have been doing the same thing over and over again for at least 3 years: sitting behind the computer, searching for jobs and applying for jobs.
I’ve tried that approach and realised that it’s not really effective.
The numbers prove their point. I spoke to a recruiter from Coles a year back and she said that for the 20-30 grad openings they have a year, they receive about 4000 applications. And a recruiter from Telstra said that for the 30-40 grad openings per year, they get 10,000 applications.
If you have been doing the same thing over and over again and realised that it’s not really effective, what should you do?
Change, adapt, innovate, reinvent.
Out of frustration from the job search, I decided to start my own careers magazine, since there wasn’t really such a thing in the local market, and that others in the same boat could use some help as well. I got a close friend to partner with me for this.
Through this magazine, our print copies reached 2000-3000 students in 6 Victorian universities, and I got the chance to do career workshops in The University of Melbourne and RMIT. Also, I met and networked with countless professionals from this project and this built up my confidence and compelling reason (see Point 5 below) which got me the job down the road.
4. They don’t get the heck out of their bl**dy comfort zones
Sitting behind my computer and applying for jobs was quite comfortable. I could stay at home and keep myself shielded from the frigid winter weather outside. Also, staying on my part-time tutoring job was comfortable too. It wasn’t too mind-boggling and it covered the rent.
But seriously, did I come into this earth to just survive on this mediocre sh*t? Do I exist just to do the bare minimum and scrape by?
Or were there bigger and better things to do? Could I do better? Why not think bigger? Why not change the world, or at least attempt to?
That’s why I started the magazine. In fact, it wasn’t just a magazine – that’s micro thinking. It’s a movement to empower people to excel in their work and life, and that magazine was the prelude to Industry Bootcamp and what you are reading now.
I will never forget the moment when I pitched the magazine to one of the coordinators from The University of Melbourne’s Student Union. She was the one in charge of the orientation show bags and we really wanted to get our print magazines into those bags.
So I went to the union house (where her office is) and asked reception if I could speak to anyone who dealt with the orientation show bags. The guy at the front desk told me to head upstairs to the office.
And that was where I met her. At that time, I didn’t even have the print copy available. I just had a draft version on my tablet. That’s it. And I was really, really freaking out.
I haven’t done this before. I have absolutely no print nor publishing experience.
But I still went ahead.
Because, if I chose to remain in my little shell (aka comfort zone), nothing, absolutely nothing, would come of it. But if I tried, at least there was a chance of it getting through successfully.
And it did.
So get out of your comfort zone.
In fact, your comfort zone is one of the most dangerous places on earth.
Visit it to rest and recuperate, then get out, and get things going.
5. They don’t have a compelling reason
Why do you want to apply for ABC job or XYZ role in EFG industry?
Because you studied business and management in university? Because you are looking for a rewarding and challenging career? Because you want to work for a global company? <Insert more conventional and politically correct copy-and-paste answers>
Not good enough.
If you say that you are an accounting graduate from ABC university, what’s so special about that? If I were the employer, what makes you stand out from the whole pile of candidates? In fact, there are hundreds of others who studied the same thing as you.
For myself, the reason why I went into the training and development space is because I’m passionate about bringing out the best in others, as evidenced through my projects and workshop involvement. I firmly believe that everyone deserves to excel in work and life, and I want to be part of an organisation that helps them make it happen.
That is what keeps me up at night and wakes me up in the morning.
That is what drives me.
If I die, I think that will make me jump up from the grave and continue what I’m doing.
So what’s your compelling reason? Not just a reason, but a compelling reason.
6. They have sh*tty friends
Your peer network and social circle has a great and profound influence over your life and your decisions.
They say that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
Hang around barbers long enough and you’ll get a haircut. Hang around athletes long enough and you will start to become one. Hang around couch potatoes long enough and you would end up looking like a potato.
Who are you hanging out and spending time with?
Seriously, are they stretching and challenging you? Or are they just helping you play the blame game, stay lazy and maintain the status quo?
If you have been hanging out mostly with jobless people, guess what happens?
It’s hard to soar like eagles when you hang around a bunch of turkeys.
If you want to get to a higher position, start reading and spending more time with people who have been there and done that.
Which is why I keep on watching videos, reading articles and listening to podcasts of peak performers and business leaders. It’s because I want to change the world and I have so much to learn from them.
So who do you need to spend more time with? And who do you need to spend less time with?
What’s your next move?
If you are a job seeker and you have read till this point, good on you. But don’t just end there. Don’t just be like the many who are merely fat with theory and knowledge, but don’t do much about it.
Put whatever you have learnt into practice. Take things one step at a time and you’ll get there.
You don’t have to be the sharpest tool in the shed or the smartest person in the room. Just be the one who is the most enthusiastic to get things going and the one who is willing to outwork everyone else.