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The Art of Finding Work: Complaining How Employers Hire Doesn’t Help Your Job Search

“Complaining is not a strategy. You have to work with the world as you find it, not as you would have it be.” ― Jeff Bezos

In a different reality, employers would: 

  • Offer salaries dependent on the candidate’s needs, not the job’s market value.
  • Not use applicant tracking software. (ATS)
  • Reply to every application.
  • Have a short and transparent hiring process.
  • Not scrutinize your resume and digital footprint.

Today’s reality:

  • More than ever, getting hired comes down to who you know and who knows you.
  • Employers are skittish (read: cautious) when it comes to hiring, hence why they have long, drawn-out hiring processes with many hurdles to navigate. 
  • Ghosting. (in fairness, candidates also ghost)
  • Employers are looking for the perfect fit and are willing to wait until such a candidate comes along. (What employers want to see and the stereotypes they expect are constantly shifting paradigms.)

I understand why job seekers are frustrated with their job search and how employers design their hiring process. However, punching down on employers as if that’ll get them closer to their goal, presumably to get a job, accomplishes nothing other than wasting time and energy. Job seekers need to know and accept their controllables and uncontrollables.

Can’t control:

  • The economy or the number of job openings.
  • How an employer has designed their hiring process.
  • A hiring manager’s biases.
  • Whom you’re competing against.

Can control:

  • The amount of time and effort you put into your job search.
  • Whom you connect with and how you maintain your connections.
  • Your digital footprint.
  • Your preparation and performance. (Practice! Practice! Practice!)
  • How you cope with rejection. (Embrace the power of “Next!”)

Focus on what you can control, not on what you can’t control. Where you focus is where your energy goes. You can spend your energy and time complaining about employers being unfair and not giving you a chance. Such complaints stem from a sense of entitlement and do nothing to improve your job search success. Complaining discourages you from overcoming the many challenges you’re facing throughout your job search and breeds negativity, which manifests into excuses or believing you’re a victim of some “ism.”

Complaining isn’t a strategy or a way of taking responsibility; it’s not even a way of getting what we want. It’s a way of avoiding responsibility, blaming others, and trying to get sympathy without having to take action. 

An essay I recommend everyone read is The Common Denominator of Success, by Albert E.M. Gray, who spent much of his life searching for the one denominator all successful people share. Putting first things first was the common denominator. “The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don’t like to do,” he wrote. Put simply, to succeed, you must form the habit of doing what others don’t like to do. This is especially true when job searching. (e.g., networking)

Job seekers tend to complain because it’s easier than doing what they should be doing. Additionally, job seekers have expectations of employers, which, when not met, cause them to complain. Managing your expectations will limit your complaints about employers.

Two truisms job seekers would be wise to accept:

  • Total strangers (employers) owe you nothing.
  • Employment isn’t an absolute right.

I can’t overstress the importance of accepting these truisms. If you’re feeling bitter or resentful about your job search, wishing things were different, or thinking how life isn’t fair—any of this sounds familiar?—you’re fighting reality, which, as Bezos pointed out, “you have to work with the world as you find it, not as you would have it be.”

Complaining is counterproductive and does nothing to help you land a job. In today’s brutal job market, or in any job market, you need to be proactive as opposed to reactive, which is what most job seekers are. The difference between reactive and proactive job seekers has nothing to do with degrees, skills or experience. The difference is their mindset. Proactive job seekers base their expectations on reality. Reactive job seekers base their expectations on how they wish the world would be.

Guess which spends their energy complaining.

There are four critical steps in the proactive job search:

  1. Identify which companies interest you.
  2. Research the companies.
  3. Leverage your network.
  4. Reach out to hiring managers.

There’s too much of this:

  • 1,000 applicants answer a job posting.
  • 900 candidates sprayed and prayed and, therefore, don’t have the required qualifications, skills, or experience or know what the business does.
  • 75 are “okay” candidates.
  • 25 are candidates worth pursuing.

The Internet has made it much too easy to apply—spray and pray—which has resulted in qualified candidates getting lost in the tsunami of “quick apply applications” employers receive for their job openings. Job seekers have to deal with this reality, the world they have to work with, and no amount of complaining will change this reality.

Save your energy for your job search. Job hunting isn’t a totally unpredictable process if you’re a proactive job seeker and understand that successful job searching and complaining don’t go hand in hand.

Nick Kossovan

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers “unsweetened” job search advice. You can send Nick your questions to artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

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