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Why the Smartest Jobseekers Often Look Really Dumb


Robby

As part of our Indianapolis speaking and consulting business, I’m often invited to speak to jobseeker groups. I’m amazed at the incredible resumes of many of these individuals, and how sharp they are once we start talking about their area of expertise.

But for being such bright people, so many jobseekers appear tremendously foolish during initial conversation. How could this be?

People talking
© Flickr User salimfadhley

Here’s a typical conversation I have with someone after one of these events. My thoughts are in (italics).

Me: “Hi, I’m Robby Slaughter”

Them: “Hi, I’m Jill Smith.”

Me: “Hi Jill. How can I help you?”

Them: “Well, I’m looking for a job.”

Me: “Okay. (You and 11 million other people.)

Them: “Well, I’d like to work maybe in healthcare.”

Me: “Sure. (Now we’ve narrowed down to 1/5th of the entire US economy.)

Them: “I’m actually a nurse. I’ve been a nurse for 20 years. I’ve mostly worked in surgical units, but I’ve also spent some time in public health education and also in the ICU.”

Me: “Wow, that’s amazing. (Really, it is.) So are you looking for a certain kind of nursing job?”

Them: “No, I actually want to get out of nursing.”

Me: “Oh yeah? (So why did you tell me all that?)

Them: “Yeah. Maybe something in case management. But not at a hospital, like at an assisted living facility.”

Me: “Right! (Why didn’t you say that in the first place? Now I’m trying to forget you’re a nurse.)

Them: “I’ve applied to some, but I think they see that I have been a hospital nurse for so long, and figure I will go back there when the the economy improves.”

Me: “I can see why you might think that (considering that your résumé probably lists a bunch of hospitals.)

Most of the time I leave those thoughts in my head. But lately I’ve been saying some of them out loud!

It’s not that I begrudge jobseekers who are trying to figure out what they want. This is an absolutely essential part of the process of finding work.

It’s just that jobseekers seem to be figuring out what they want with anyone they happen to meet, instead of working this out in private before networking with new people.

Here’s the problem: if we’re only going to meet for a minute or two and you spend most of that time discovering yourself in front of me, I’m only going to remember you as someone is who is not sure what they want.

And this isn’t really about me. Because if you’re unclear to me when we meet for a minute or two, you’re probably unclear to everyone you meet.

Get some clarity. Ask a friend to hold you accountable. Practice what you are going to say and make a first impression worthy of your experience and expertise.

I’m happy to listen. And if you’re clear, I might even be able to help.

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About the Blogger: Robby Slaughter is a productivity speaker and expert. He is a principal with a AccelaWork, an Indianapolis consulting firm.

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Tue, July 2 2013 » Career Planning and Goal Setting, Personal Organization, Self Development

2 Responses

  1. Kristin Seed August 7 2013 @ 6:00 pm

    So, Robby, let's try this again. Here's who I am and what I'm looking for:

    "I'm a problem solver. I can't help but look at what's happening from a 'big picture' perspective and be filled with hundreds of ideas to try and improve, encourage and excite. But, the good news is… I'm a tactical worker too. I love to learn and expand my skill set and I don't mind to be the person in the detail work.

    My skill set is varied: I know how to talk financials (cash flow, profitability, budgeting) and I can talk techie (for heaven's sake, I used to have to code in COBOL). And lately, I'm excited by inbound marketing and social media.

    Let me help you solve problems!

  2. robbyslaughter August 12 2013 @ 8:06 pm

    Hi Kristin, thanks for your comments!

    Your post is SO MUCH BETTER than what I hear from 90% of all jobseekers. Truly.

    But now, you have two new challenges. First of all, you're describing yourself in a way that lists expected requirements. Read: http://www.indyatwork.com/2013/01/jobseekers-neve

    Second, you're listing a fairly wide set of skills. Read (okay, I had to write this one but I've been thinking about it for a while): http://www.indyatwork.com/2013/08/the-more-you-sa

    I hope this helps! Or, feel free to ignore me and look for advice elsewhere. 🙂

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