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Reality of Job Searching: There’s Always Someone Better Than You

I always remind myself that there is someone younger, hungrier, and more skilled than I am; in other words, there’s always someone better than I am. This keeps me humble and on my toes. 

Who can’t relate to “wanting the best“? Employers can’t be blamed for seeking and holding out for the “best” candidate, especially in a job market flooded with candidates. Every recruiter, HR professional, and hiring manager knows no perfect candidate exists. Yet, they still hunt for purple squirrels.

Today’s job market:

  • The number of jobs has decreased.
  • The number of candidates has increased. 
  • Fewer people are leaving their job. 

With so many people seeking work, employers have, along with access to technology that can do the work—job seekers and employees are entering an era where they’re starting to compete against AI, along with roboticsand cost-effective alternatives, such as hiring freelancers, contractors and sending jobs overseas, an array of options to get their jobs done. Hence, there’s always the feeling that there’s someone or something better out there.

An interviewer’s thoughts after an interview: “Yeah, [name] ticks off most of the boxes, but with all the resumes we’re getting, there’s a good chance I’ll find someone who ticks off all the boxes.” It’s common for employers to keep job postings open for several months while they try to find a candidate with specific skills, education, certification, and experience rather than hire for “potential,” which is impossible to determine. 

Right now, candidates with shinier resumes and LinkedIn profiles than yours are going after the same jobs you’re gunning for. The ocean of job seekers is filled with more experienced fish. However, there’s a bright side; being “the best” is highly subjective. Perfect on paper or LinkedIn doesn’t always equate to perfect in person.  

While employers seek the best, it should be noted that “the best” isn’t always quantifiable, and skills and experience aren’t the only things hiring managers consider. In actuality, “the best” is more about compatibility with the company’s culture and your interviewer(s)— especially if your interviewer will be your boss—and timing, which you have no control over, than “there’s always someone better.” There’s no mythical unfairness or unseen forces at play other than life happening.  

Here’s a question to ponder: Which reasons did you feel contributed to you not being hired for the jobs you interviewed for? Was it because the employer felt it was in their best interest to continue looking for a better candidate, or was it something else? Putting aside your self-interests, do you think the employers who didn’t hire you made a mistake? If “yes,” why?

In previous columns, I’ve mentioned that being likable supersedes your skills and experience. Your charisma, character, smile, clothes, and how you present yourself physically will either work for you or against you. It’s not rocket science to self-reflect and figure out which of your qualities, behaviours, and physical characteristics entices or repels employers.

Prioritizing being likable over your skills and experience is a job search strategy that more job seekers should adopt.

Several years ago, I was competing against another candidate for a position I was excited about. After three interviews and an online personality assessment, I was blown out of the water. Compared to past rejections, this one really hurt. Curious about who got hired, I kept an eye on the company’s LinkedIn page to see when new employees appeared. Several weeks later, the person I lost out to updated their LinkedIn profile and appeared as a new employee. When I read their profile, I thought, “Damn! I’d hire her over me.” She ticked off all the boxes and many more outside of skills and experience. 

When you get an interview, it’s because what the employer read on your resume, LinkedIn profile, and social media appealed to them on some level, and they feel you could do the job. Now comes the difficult part, selling yourself as the best candidate. Your goal is to stop your interviewer from thinking there are better candidates out there than you, and not hiring you would be a mistake.

Work in statements that illustrate why you’re the best candidate.

  1. “I’m excited about this opportunity because…”
  2. “I really enjoy [product or service offered by the company].”
  3. “I admire the way you [or the company]…”
  4. “I solved a similar problem.”
  5. “I’m a match for this job because…”
  6. “I consider this job a good match for my long-term goals, and I would like to continue building my career with this company.”
  7. “Collaborating with others is one of my greatest strengths.”
  8. “One of the things I would keep an eye on if I were hired is…”

Despite many hiring managers’ attempts, it’s impossible to determine “the best” candidate during the recruitment process based on a measurable scale alone. Therefore, stop fretting about being “the best” and focus on being the best and likable version of yourself. I’ve yet to meet a hiring manager who hired a candidate they didn’t like, no matter how much they thought the candidate’s skills and experience were “the best.”

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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