You are not special. You’re just another cog in the wheel. Some of the most successful companies in the world have grown into well-oiled machines. They operate as behemoth mechanisms, void of individuality, easily plugging in one person for another without much of a hiccup.
For large companies, driven by proven systems and functioning on a grand scale, people are easily replaceable. There is no real, sincere fostering of talent. Instead, career ascension is usually about who knows who; one person tapping another on the shoulder either due to a previous working relationship, or the tapper has been directed to do so by the person on the next rung of the hierarchical ladder. It’s workplace politics.
The Thieving Boss. From time to time, you may discover your boss accepts credit for your work. Maybe he isn’t as creative as you. Perhaps, she is intimidated. Whatever the reason, it’s not an uncommon occurrence. If you remove the feel-good, morale-boosting, rah-rah, team building jargon, you may find – when it all gets boiled down – your boss will elevate you only as long as he (or she) is still ahead of you. You can and should have a close relationship with your leader, but never – ever – let your guard down.
Postings Aren’t Always Real. When you’re motivated to look for a new opportunity, you think every job posting you see is the perfect fit. You scroll through the duties and responsibilities, naturally aligning your previous experience and specialized training with the position. You race to apply, upload your resume, and complete the assessment. You think, “I will knock this out, so the company knows that I am very interested.”
Sadly, too often, you are wasting your time. Hours, if not days, are invested in completing required process-related paperwork, and then, you wait…and hope. Once that passes, you get reflective – why aren’t they interested in me? When that fades, you feel frustrated. Your time was wasted. You feel unvalued and disenchanted with the company. It is just about that point when you get the stock email thanking you for your interest, but declining you from consideration.
It’s possible the position was filled internally, but it’s more likely the company posted the job to say it was posted (equal opportunity employment after all) despite already having identified the successful candidate. It’s also possible – and highly likely – the company wants to keep their brand present. Employment branding and brand marketing work together, so posting a job, even if it’s not real, keeps the brand visible and it’s much cheaper than spending money on other types of advertising.
Your Resume Stinks, and You Undervalue its Impact. Somewhere along the line, over the last several years, the value of a resume has been debated and debated and debated. Some experts adamantly believe a resume is fading away, in favor of profiles on social platforms. Those experts must be visionaries, like seriously looking into the future, not the here and now.
Your resume is an extension of your professional brand. It is the document that will open doors, whether printed and physically handed to an employer or interviewer, or in digital form uploaded to an application. It is the manifestation of your career path, and the culmination of your work history. Something so important should not be left to a template. Doing so eliminates any differentiation.
Hiring leaders look at resumes and applications all day, every day. They all start to look the same. Imagine staring at a deck of playing cards face down. You can only see the card design. The attributes that define the value of each card – number and suit – are hidden. There is no distinction between cards.
Your resume is not a playing card. Your career is not a game. Your resume should be customized to you.
Your Uniqueness Could Be an Obstacle. A few truths: Your individuality is what makes you, you. Your unique point of view is shaped by your life experience, work experience, education, and upbringing. You take pride, and even celebrate, individual successes. You value each success because you know the personal and/or professional history. Only you know the dedication, time, effort, energy, and commitment it took to get where you are today.
What you hold so dear, sadly holds little value for many employers. Employers seek out similarities, so the successful candidate can assimilate fast. Thus, paying no attention to the aspects where the individual excels outside of the norm.
Even when the market leverage shifts to the candidate, some companies are slow to adapt and don’t speed up their process. Those companies may have the best environment and opportunities for growth, but the inability to flex, redirect, or expedite hiring – coupled with the leverage bestowed upon the candidate as unemployment rates fall – and the conditions for a mismatch in hiring rise. The wrong people are hired. The right people are lost in the process to the competition. Excessive movement, but no real traction.
So, what does a great candidate – a savvy career-minded strategist – do?
Stop acting desperate. Limit your number of resume submissions, and choose to engage with people that inspire and influence you. Those are the people you should work with to refine your job search focus. Contact past colleagues, and let your humility fly free. Ask for help, and offer help in return.
With the right support, you may be able to put the entire job search process behind you, and move on to your next great adventure.
Test the Waters. See what’s available. Give your career a refresh. Maybe there is a better opportunity out there. Maybe you’re in a better situation than you realized. Maybe not. It’s worth your time to explore options, discover new opportunities, and validate your status.