"Jobseeker." Employers address you that way on their corporate sites. Recruiters use the very same term to describe applicants for their openings. But you should never ever accept the label. Don't let anyone categorize you as a jobseeker. Compel them to see you as a "person of talent" instead.
Although most employers and recruiters don’t consciously look down on jobseekers, their subliminal assessment is clear. If you’re actively searching for a job, they see you as a supplicant for work. And all too often that judgment leads them to denigrate your expertise and experience. They don't think you are the equal of others in the workforce.
If you don’t believe that, consider this: For the last two years, a major survey of employers has found that the number-one source of people hired to fill open jobs in corporate America isn't jobseekers. It's the employers' current workers. Employers call this practice "internal mobility," but basically it's their backhanded way of saying that people in transition are inferior.
So, what can you do about this predicament? Change the way you see yourself so that employers are forced to look at you differently. Stop acting like a supplicant for work, and start being a resource worthy of recruitment - a person of talent.
How do you make this shift from second class to first-class status in the workforce? As I explain in my book, A Multitude of Hope: A Novel About Rediscovering the American Dream, it requires that you take only two steps: First you have to reset yourself as a work in progress in your field of work; and second, you have to become the captain of your career. Let’s take a look at each of those actions.
Reset Yourself as a "Work in Progress"
Most Americans understand that lifelong learning is important to their success. What they don’t realize is that employers have changed the rules of lifelong learning. Employers used to consider people qualified for their openings if they occasionally took a training course in their field and had a lot of experience doing the work. Today they don’t.
Thanks to competition from overseas companies with increasingly well-educated workers, employers today need new hires who have up-to-the-minute, state-of-the-art skills. In other words, it doesn’t matter whether you have taken a course or two in your field over the last five years, or that you have 20 years of experience. Employers today will only hire those who are at the very leading edge of knowledge and skills in their field.
What does that mean for you if you’re in transition? Don’t look ‘complete’ on your resume. Instead, depict yourself as actively incomplete. Go back to school in your field even as you are searching for a job, and add that credential to your resume. It tells employers that you understand the importance of staying current in your field and that you take personal responsibility for doing so. You go from being seen as obsolete to being considered an expert.
Become the Captain of Your Career
Most Americans rely on their employers to manage their careers. They believe hard work will push them up the organization’s
career ladder and their loyalty will be repaid with enough job security to get them a gold watch. It’s debatable whether such notions were ever true, but today there is absolutely no doubt they are pipedreams.
Thanks to the relentless introduction of new technology and the ever more fickle tastes of consumers, employers can no longer tell what kinds of workers they will need in six months, let alone two or three years down the road. That unpredictability is causing jobs to come and go at warp speed. Where once you might have shifted jobs every decade and switched employers a time or two in your career, you will now experience such changes every three or four years.
What does that mean if you are in transition? You can either be the master of those changes or their victim. You can let events control your career, or you can become its captain and set the course that works best for you. To assume that role, however, you have to know the rules of the game and be adept at applying them. So, take charge of your career by learning the principles and practices of effective career self-management and then use them to achieve career security – the ability always to be employed and always by an employer of your choice.