What type of work are you looking for?

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One problem with finding work isn’t about not having enough offers to choose from. It’s finding something “compelling” in any of them.

What type of work are you looking for?” asked the recruiter. “Oh, whatever work you have!” replied the person on the phone. After having asked for the person’s prior work experiences, the recruiter said “Well, based on that, we could offer you general labor work“. The reply was almost immediate: “No. Not that type of work”.

As a recruiter, I’ve gone through this and heard similar stories from managers and other HR people, over and over. A job seeker who, on the surface, is opened to anything available but becomes very picky, once you start digging. Making the discussion go from “Oh, whatever work you have!” to “I want a job… but not any type of work” almost in a split second.

AN AVAILABILITY PROBLEM?

At first, it might seem to be an availability problem. Not having enough options to choose from. The recruiter having offered only one in this story. But what if you offered almost an unlimited number of options? Like most job boards do? Truth is, even if both “general” and “niche” boards offer tens, hundreds or thousands of “work opportunities”, as most do today, it still leaves many people clueless. Sometimes, such high volume of work ads even gets the most patient and willing-to-put-in-the-effort job seeker depressed or angry.

Which is a problem that you might have experienced in some restaurants, most stores, and on Netflix too.

Why?

Because it’s not the number of choices at hand that matters most when someone is making a decision. It’s how compelling an option appears to be over another.

Unless you have a specific list of “this will do it, this won’t” at hand, narrowing down hundreds of job posts to only a few to pick from is pretty hard. Do you filter them by location, job title, type (permanent, temporary), schedule (full time, part time, day shift or overnight), most important skills required, salary or perks (offers a benefits package, a gym subscription or not)?

Once you have that list of maybe 6 or 10 “interesting open positions” showing on your screen, what do you do? Which one do you apply for? All of them? Or only the one with the highest paycheck?

Reading through different lists of similar, almost identical point forms can get boring. On top, it only calls to something that hates being bored: your brain.

The salary is interesting. It would be an increase compared to my actual job… but what if the people there suck? What if I don’t get along well with them? (…) How good would that be to replace what I already have… and want to change… with something similar then?

Logic and bullet lists get kicked off the road at that point. Emotions take their place. But where’s the “emotional factor” or trigger in most job posts? Very often, it’s nowhere to be found.

That is, if you only limit yourself at looking to bullet points and the tasks that follow.

ONE WAY TO INCREASE THE ODDS IN YOUR FAVOR…

If, on the other hand, you set your attention on the problem a company or team tries to help its customers with, you increase the odds of finding the emotional leverage you’re looking for (to make your decision). “This company, _______, helps its customers with ‘X’ “. Is this an issue that “speaks to you”, one you have struggled with? Or is it something that leaves you indifferent.

Take banking for instance. Lending money, more precisely. For some people, depending of their background or personal story, working for a small venture capital (VC) firm that helps startups to grow will have more appeal than for a traditional bank that only helps big corps. On the other hand, working for an institution offering microcredit to solopreneurs and craftsmen might stir more interest from another group of job seekers than the VC firm helping startups. However, the list of tasks you would have to fulfill during a typical week as – let’s say, an account manager – could definitely be very similar in all three job ads.

SO YOU CAN AVOID AN OVERLOAD OF INFORMATION

When you look at how many job boards and open positions’ posts there are out there, it can be overwhelming. Almost like when you sit at a restaurant and a waitress hands you a 4-pages menu filled only with breakfast items. That quantity of information is enough to jam anyone’s brain.

Finding work can feel the same at times; having to make your way through an overload of information.

Succeeding at it gets easier when you start focusing less on the bullet points companies put in job ads than on the silver bullet they offer to their customers (as a solution to a problem they struggle with).

So then, it provides you with a much clearer understanding of why a certain job exists. Why a certain type of work needs to be done. And knowing “why” is way more compelling than knowing “what”.

If I was to ask you, “What type of work are you looking for?”, would you do like most employers and lists me different tasks or try to stir my interest with a problem you’d like to help solve instead?

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Photo credits: Tom

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