Jun 2 2011
Even if you are not in this exact circumstance, I have heard other preconceived fears that paralyze job searches – my school isn’t a top 10, my major wasn’t business-related, my experience isn’t analytical enough, there is a glass ceiling for women anyway. The subtext is, “Why bother trying?”
When fear inhibits action, it is not helpful. However, it is not feasible or even desirable just to ignore it. In fact, fear can be quite useful. It sends a signal that something needs attention. There is age discrimination out there. Sometimes companies prefer candidates with experience at various companies. A regional school, unrelated major, lack of analytical experience, and, yes, gender discrimination may also affect a search. Therefore, rather than dismiss a fear outright, a proactive candidate anticipates possible outcomes and develops strategic responses to combat these.
If a company is going to discriminate by age or school or major or gender, they can do this easily via the resume. Knowing this, a candidate who fears having a red flag should spend more time and energy getting to know decision-makers directly. Take the resume out of the picture. Relying on someone to read your resume and select you (even if your credentials are outstanding) cedes control of your search to whoever happens to see your resume. Network and make your pitch. Craft a compelling letter of inquiry that entices an employer to want to meet you. Conduct an informational interview with intelligent, business-savvy questions that show employers that you know their industry and their company and therefore you deserve to be their colleague.
By taking action around your fear, you move past the paralysis and empower yourself to be responsible for your search and your career. An empowered candidate is confident, and confidence attracts. In a down market, a candidate with a positive, can-do spirit is especially appealing. You may not even encounter resistance around the fears that you have, and you may never know whether what you feared was ever an issue. But don’t just try to ignore it or convince yourself not to care. You fear what you fear, so use your fear to make yourself a better candidate.
Article by Caroline Ceniza-Levine orginally posted here.
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