The Job Seekers’ Bill of Rights

Written on May 23, 2016

By Janice Worthington, MA, CPRW, JCT

As we focus on talent management in our coaching resources, the more we know about candidate thinking, the better decisions employers will make. At times it appears as if job seekers have no rights. Their struggles include attempting to stroll past gatekeepers only to have minimal interview time with a decision maker. Even more discouraging to a job seeker is the seemingly great fit scenario followed by eternal silence from a less than forthcoming employer.

So what are job seekers’ rights? With the goal of getting hired, they are diverse and numerous. No two job seekers are the same and one size doesn’t fit all. Consider each of these carefully:

The Right to Change
No one’s birth certificate says RN or PMP after his name and we are not sentenced to only one career. But there are considerations. If your vocation has been outsourced to the offshore crowd then perhaps you have no choice. If not, then you will be well-served to make sure you are changing careers for the right reasons.

If you do decide to take the leap, you will fare better if you consider using transferable skills, i.e., your talents in financial analysis in the business development capacity or your industry knowledge. Knowledge of client industries is a must in the public accounting world, making those who know this information very attractive to bring inside. Familiarity breeds credibility and compensation value.

The Right to Be Your Age & Act Your Age
While not always fair, Baby Boomers and their very youngest contenders can be misjudged based on perception. Many job seekers aged 50 and older get discouraged by their situation, haunted by the ghost of their vanished, youthful working selves. Others worry about their youth and lack of experience.

These discouragements, of course, can become self-fulfilling prophecy. Lighten up! When you show up for an interview with an HR representative or hiring manager who’s significantly younger or older, one of you may well be unnerved. Make sure it’s not you. Commonality of purpose is the strongest draw. Your age must not distract anymore than your eye color.

The Right to Grandstand
By definition, in job search grandstanding is an action that seals the deal and results in a job offer. It is usually an unexpected, unusual method of stating the case that you are the best of all candidates. I’ve seen Hail Mary PowerPoints, outside endorsements, and special delivery solutions enable a candidate to bypass all others to a starting date. Use your instincts, but don’t be afraid to turn the odds in your favor. Never be satisfied to “let the chips fall where they may.” There’s always more than one opportunity for anyone with the sense of adventure that’s willing to take a bit of risk. I coach my clients to go down in a blaze of presentation glory rather than retreat with a case of introverted self-doubt. But don’t ever confuse rights with entitlements. We are only entitled to compete, and it’s normally on a rough and crowded road. There are more talented, educated and well-prepared contenders than ever. The only guarantee goes to the contender who is always on top of her game and can’t be discouraged. You’ll recognize her as emotionally focused on her journey. She may not be the best but she’ll perform the best.

Janice Worthington, MA, CPRW, JCT, is the president of Worthington Career Services, a resume and job search consulting firm that provides strategic career coaching to professionals at all levels of the corporate ladder.

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