Transcript #70. 5 Myths sabotaging your job hunting and career.

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There are many misconceptions about job hunting and how to advance your career. So over the course of five weeks, I was on my Facebook page every Wednesday, busting one career myth per week. So there were five myths, and that's what we're going to do here in this podcast today. We have edited these sessions, and we’ve kind of cut back a lot of the content because I tend to ramble, and I'm very informal, and it's very chatty. So if you're keen to follow me on my Facebook page, there will be a link in the episode show notes, or you can just type my name. My handle is @renatabernarde.co, and you can find me there and check out the videos tab. There are plenty of videos there, not just these five. But in these videos, I do this myth-busting series for five weeks. We did that, and we address those five myths that I'm going to be talking to you in this podcast that we've edited out of the Facebook sessions.

I hope you enjoy this. It was a lot of fun to do this project on Facebook. I have over a thousand followers there, and the podcast Facebook group, it's a private group. You have to request to join. I think there are 350 now inside that group. And they're all professionals in the corporate, non-profit, and public sectors. We have great discussions. There are special videos that are private, and they only exist inside the Facebook group. In fact, there was one recently with one of our group members, a CFO who is currently looking for work, and he and I had a chat on our private Facebook group, and that one remains private. And you can only access it once you join the group. So, you know, we have all of these resources for job hunters and career enthusiasts, and I hope that you continue to follow me. And of course, if you need my help, and if you need my coaching, you can always reach out, go to my website, check out my services and see if there's anything there that I can do to help you speed up your results, bring that job forward, make it quicker for you to get to that next job. I'd love to help. Now let's listen to the five myths that we busted earlier this year.

All right, let's talk about myths. The first one, the one that says people think that they will get a job if they have a perfect resume and a cover letter, and having a perfect resume and a cover letter will get them a new job. That is not true. It can be that if you work really hard to have a perfect resume, that you would get your new job. But it could also be, and it's equally as likely, that with an okay resume, you would get through to your new job. The reason being is that it's not just the resume that gets you the job. A resume is just one of the many. Doing a good resume and doing a good cover letter is one of the many things you have to do with the many activities you have to do as a job hunter to get you your next job. When you download the worksheet that I have on my homepage, the one where I teach you how to optimize your job search, you will see that there's a bunch of activities there that you should be doing every day or every week to optimize your job search, to ensure that your job search is really leading towards the next job. And focusing solely on your resume and your cover letter will not get you where you want to go.

I have seen a lot of people who have beautiful resumes and cover letters, and they're still looking for work. Some of them are my clients. They started working with me because their resumes and cover letters were not converting them to new jobs. The other thing, too, is that it can be a clutch for you, the myth that because you don't have a good resume and a cover letter, you're not even going to apply. You're not even going to look for work until you get a perfect resume and a cover letter. So it keeps you from moving forward. It keeps you from taking the next step because you're never satisfied with a resume and a cover letter that you have. 

The other problem, too, is making those resumes and those cover letters look perfect to you, but not to your audience, not to your reader, not to the job. So what really matters is the fit between what you are contributing and what the job needs. And in that sense, there is not ever A resume. You can have a master document that is, you know, a good master baseline, a framework for you to work from every time you're applying for a role. But you really have to invest time in tailoring and curating your resume in your cover letter for the job that you were applying for. And even though I say this, and you probably already know this, not many people know what exactly needs to be done to do that curation. And that really does not mean it needs to be perfect. It doesn't mean that it needs to be what you probably think it needs to be, which is sophisticated and pretty and all of that. 

In fact, a lot of the time, I see that people have paid money to do what they believe is a very beautiful resume and cover letter or template for them. And that is visually attractive to you, but it won't get you a job at all because it's actually too sophisticated in terms of its design. And sometimes, a very simple down-to-earth, black and white, no-frills resume will actually convert more than a pretty one with a banner on the side that has a pink color and tables and charts. Those things don't play well, especially for jobs that the first conversion and reading are done by bots. They don't like all of that fancy stuff. So you may have paid good money for it, but if you're a client of mine, we would have to rework it and make it simple. 

But most importantly, understanding that resume and cover letter is just - and really the online application or the key selection criteria if the job requires that you do that documentation as well - is just one way of getting that first step into the recruitment and selection process.

Sometimes there are other doors that get you that first step. I'll give you an example. It could be that somebody internally at the organization has worked with you before, and when a job came up, they thought of you. Or this person might be in a position of being a decision-maker, a position of power, and they would even mention your name and say, ‘look, I actually know somebody that can do this job. Do you want to meet or call her? Do you want to talk to her?’ And because you come with that social proof, with that professional proof, even if your resume is not great, they will see you anyway. Right? So think about that and think about how many times you've heard of this before, that so many jobs are not advertised as such, and this is what it means. 

The other thing, too, is when you have created a brand for yourself or a name for yourself, and you're already doing great things that people have heard of. That social proof is already done as well. So again, even if your resume is not great in the way that it looks, people already trust you. They already like you. So you already have a foot in the door. Because ultimately, that's all that the resume is supposed to do. The resume is the most traditional, most well-known way to convert that first step into the recruitment and selection process. Right? 

So when I do the job hunting made simple program, or even when I'm doing one-on-one coaching with my clients, I'm actually teaching them how to actually do them themselves. And I review their resumes and give them feedback, and they end up doing a lot of the work, but it's a lesson for life. They will learn how to speak about themselves, how to present themselves at interviews. As you're doing those dot points for your resume under each of your work experiences, you're remembering the things that you've done in previous employment so that when an interview comes up, you're going to be better at speaking about them.

And I'm teaching my clients either one-on-one or in the group coaching, all of the tricks of the trade, and all of the little secret sauce that they can then go and use themselves. Not just for this next job hunting, but for life. So that's the great thing about engaging a coach so that you can actually do it yourself and do it really well. You'll never forget it. It's like riding a bike. 

So the second myth that I want to bust, which is that you need to have perfect answers for all of your interview questions. And you need to answer them perfectly using the so-called SMART or STAR or different acronyms, methods to address each of the questions, and if you do so, you will get the job. And people tend to be really hung up on the STAR method. And I understand why but we're going to bust that myth a little bit because that's not all true. It's not true at all in my view. I get a lot of people that come to me for one-on-one consultations, and of course, my coaching clients to help me prep for interviews. And they're quite surprised when I kind of go into the STAR method, but we kind of think about the interview more holistically. So I want to talk to you about that and make you more aware of the problem or the challenge that we have with interviews in being part of how professionals are selected for jobs. 

What I have found is that there is this misconception that you're only going to be interviewed when you're actually sitting at the office or at this zoom meeting, which is the so-called interview, right? That is not true. You may not know this, but throughout your career, as you sit and you chat to people, your colleagues, your managers, your manager’s boss, your clients, your suppliers, people are assessing you and making judgments about you. And they will be considering you or not for future opportunities. So what comes out of your mouth and the way that you position yourself and present yourself every day is what will make your career sustainable over time. And I'm not saying this to scare you and make you super self-aware, but it is the truth. 

And somebody that gets the company that you're in. It's very easy to find issues and problems and mistakes and criticize the organizations and be cynical about the organizations that we're working with. There are no unicorns out there. Even the companies you think are unicorns are actually not unicorns. All companies have problems. Guess what? You are the person that is making the organization as much as everybody else. Especially in this time of the pandemic, of revolution, of real change, not like this change that we used to think about back in 2019. Companies are struggling to redefine their cultures. So you need to hit the ground running as somebody who can be an agent of change again. So getting the company to understand what you're walking into and understanding it's not a dream role or a dream company; it’s a company that needs you. That's why they invested in you. That's why they hired you. 

Okay, Renata, but what about the actual job interview, right? Again, prepping for answering questions in the STAR format will only take you so far. Because we have plenty of research now that shows that what comes out of your mouth is only a percentage of the cues that you're sending out to your potential boss or employer, hiring manager, recruiter, right? But everything else around you is also sending a message to your future employer. So in this time of COVID, if you are being interviewed via zoom, you are showing your employer how you're going to represent their company once they hire you. This background, whatever it may be, is the company's new office if you're working from home. It's how the company is going to present itself when you are talking to clients of that company, to your colleagues who are working for that company, and so on. So being remote-work-ready is important. 

The way that you dress and knowing what the kind of dress code is. I was prepping another client for an interview he has on Friday, and the company sent the dress code for the zoom for the video interview, which I think is nice because we are really unsure. I mean, do we suit up? I mean, it sounds a bit ridiculous because you are at home. But having that feedback from whoever is interviewing you is great. It doesn't always happen, but regardless, you know, you have to play your best cards and do your research, and use your best understanding of the organization. 

And use the video to the best of your ability. Your lighting, the way that you look at the camera, the way that you move your hands - you can see that I do that quite a lot - are matching what's coming out of your mouth. So all of that is important. Practicing to answer questions in that STAR format - that really takes practice so that it doesn't sound robotic. It doesn't sound artificial or fake. It doesn't sound like you've practiced to say it in that exact certain way. And you need to be ready to adopt that narrative rather than to just say something that you've rehearsed over and over again because the questions could be slightly different from the questions that you've prepped. So you still need to understand storytelling, and that's really all that the STAR system was trying to do for people going into interviews. I'll give you an example. Sometimes I'm prepping a client, and it's so easy for the clients to be hung up on the problem, what the situation was, and then spend a lot of time describing the problem, and then forgetting to describe what the task and the action and the results and all of that work. So you have to take the audience, whoever is listening to you, on this journey that is exciting. What happened next? What happened next? People want to know what happened next. And then people want to also know that that experience that you're sharing with them about how you helped an organization, take them from A to B, will help your organization. 

Now, what are the solutions? Okay, Renata, you're overwhelming me. There's more than I need to do. What I'm telling you is there's a little bit that you need to do each day actually to make your career more sustainable. Because my thing is really about making people's careers more successful over time, more sustainable, and actually taking you where you want to go. So the solutions that I have created, the IP that I have created, are really to help my clients and my community - people who follow me like you - to access those habit-forming solutions. So, for example, that's why I'm developing the group coaching again. And it really teaches you the seven-step framework to having a great career. All the things that you need to do. And the recruitment and selection process for job applications is almost like the sandwich in the middle of that seven-step process. There’s stuff that you need to do before you walk into an interview before you even start applying for roles that you may be missing out on. 

Okay. Now let's talk about the fact that people sometimes think they're not ready for promotion. They second guess themselves. So the comments that I hear from people that reach out to me are, ‘look, I don't think I'm ready for the promotion or a new job.’ There have been situations when they've been tapped on the shoulders, by their managers or bosses, for opportunities that have come up, and they have come to me and said, ‘I don't feel ready.’

You're sending mixed messages out there to the world because you have advocates for you that are telling you that you're ready, and you don't feel ready. The other thing that could happen is you are not tapped on the shoulder. People are not sort of saying, ‘Oh look, you should apply,’ but you are also second-guessing yourself. 

Why does that happen to us? Why is it that we don't feel ready? That's very common. It's more common than people think. It happens all up here in our heads, and the voices inside our heads telling us things are not actually us. The things that you say to yourself in your head that you're not good enough, that you're not ready. That's not you. Those voices in your head, they are called resistance. They're called fear. They're called inertia. They're called laziness, de-motivation, procrastination, perfectionism. And we talk ourselves out of moving forward. Okay. 

I do that myself too. You know, everybody does that. Whenever there is a big task, a big goal ahead. Those big projects in life require a lot of your time up in your head, and you tend to work yourself out of doing it. So I want you to pay attention to that, put that to a side, get all of that, put it inside a drawer inside your head, and close that drawer. And then think about what you really want for yourself. Some people want to advance in their careers. They want leadership roles. They want to go up and up. Others just want a job. Figure out what it is that you want, and then invest in making sure that people know what you want. Okay. And sending those messages when you're working with others is really important.

Those messages you have to send consistently every day, every time that they spend with you, you need to inspire trust. You need to be relatable and dependable. They need to depend on you to get the work done. You know, ‘thank goodness John is involved in this project, and thank goodness Helen is involved in this task because I can rely on her to do it.’ 

You have to be likable. People want to work with people that they like. We've discussed that at length last year as well, the fact that we sometimes hire assholes, but we try to avoid them. Sometimes we hire them because they are assholes, but they’re very good at a special expertise that's needed, but companies really try to avoid hiring those types of people. They like to hire people that are likable, that will be enjoyable to work with. That will be fit in well with the culture of the team or make the culture even better if the culture is not so good. And also that you can do your job well.

What are the things that people will consider when they're actually making the decision to promote? There are two more things that you need to think of. Do you have the potential to stop being an expert in X, Y, and Z - which is doing your job right now - to be elevated to a position where you will bring the best in others, who will be the experts and you will be then delegating. It's a different set of skills, and you might need to showcase to them that you can do this. And the second thing is that you understand the business. The higher up you go, the more out of the floor and more up into strategy you are. And then understanding the sector, understanding the industry, understanding the business that you're in is important. And the way to do that is to showcase that you have commercial knowledge, industry knowledge, sector knowledge if you are going to be elevated to more senior roles. But you don't need to be ready to do the job; you need to be ready to take on the challenge. That's the difference.

All right, myth-busting. Too many candidates out there; this is why I'm not hearing back. That's not the reason why you're not hearing back. Okay. Yes, there are always a lot of candidates for roles. It's rare that there is a role where not many candidates apply. So depending on where you are in the world at the moment, considering we're going through these different stages of lockdown and pandemic and waves and all of that, you might be in a situation where we were in July, August, September, last year. Here in Australia, there were like four times more candidates for a role than normal. It was really quite incredible. And the candidates felt really frustrated by that. But in Melbourne and most of Australia have gone down to almost normal levels. 

Even before COVID, this is what you can assume. You can assume that between 60 to 80% of the applications are not good enough. The problem is if you're not cutting through if you're saying to me and a lot of people, book discovery calls with me, reach out to me and say, ‘I'm applying. I've been applying for months. I'm not getting through.’ You're probably in that pool. And this is what needs fixing. 

Recruitment and selection are like a competition. It’s very much like a tennis competition. You have to qualify, and then you go to the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals, and then you get the trophy. So you need to qualify. And the qualification is your online application. And in that case, it could be that you are not qualifying. So this is how you need to think. But if you have a good application, if you have the time, the inclination, the energy, the resources, the tools to do a good application, let's say you have a job that you loved and you see it on LinkedIn jobs. And you see that a hundred people have applied. Your goal is to be in that sort of 20 to 40%. 20 to 40% will be the actual, okay-ish candidates that are good for that role.

And then you want to make your job applications stand out even more so that you are in that 20, right? So these are the muscles that you need to work. If you've never been applying for jobs, you can't just look at a dream job and say, ‘I want in.’ Yes, it may happen that you will get through and that you come for the interview, and you are going to be interviewed, and you're going to nail it. And you're going to get the job. It happens. But it's very, very rare for that to happen. Usually, what happens is you apply, and then the nerves take over, and you may qualify through your application, but then your interview is a mess because you don't perform well at the interview. So you need to practice. You need to build those muscles over time so that you get better and better at it.

How do you do it? How do you make your application stand out? What you need to do is demonstrate with your online application and your collateral - your resume, your LinkedIn profile, your cover letter. Is all of that demonstrating clearly that you are a good fit for the role? This is really important. An application process is not showcasing what you've done; it’s showcasing what you can do. And this is where people get really confused. So this is really important. Can you demonstrate clearly that you were a good fit for the role? 

Sometimes I have taken things out of resume because even though they were fancy and impressive and demonstrated great gravitas, they were not a good fit for that role. And in fact, they may even create doubts about the fit for the role. I will give you an example if the role is, let's say, senior - because most of my clients are senior - but it says, you're going to be managing funds, and you're going to be managing endowments for foundations or family that have money. You can clearly see when you read that position description that this is a job you're going to be doing on your own. You'll be working for this bank - it could be a perpetual bank, it could be credit Suisse, it could be one of those banks that manage those wealthy family foundation funds - but you won't be managing lots of people. And if that person that comes from a banking and finance background has a resume where everywhere it shows that they've managed a hundred people, that they've managed 50 people, and it sort of mentions that over and over again, it's not going to be a good match. When in fact that this person is a perfect match. They have a banking and finance background, they dealt with wealthy people before, but it's just not going to sell it because it may come across as somebody that needs to delegate work instead of working independently and autonomously. 

Have you followed the application guidelines? Following application guidelines are so important, so important. If a job is advertised on LinkedIn, make sure you go back to the organization's website, click on the careers or about us, and check if they don't have any guidelines there, many organizations do. And sometimes they're nice, and they link that back to the application on LinkedIn. Sometimes they don't, and they kind of expect the good candidates to know where they are. 

And do you understand the power of technology and how it's impacting your online application? Do you understand how LinkedIn and what you have on your profile are affecting your online LinkedIn application? So if you apply through LinkedIn, your LinkedIn profile has to be done in a certain way for you to rank well for that role that you've just applied for. Your resume design or CV design and how it may affect the readability by bots, but also how important it is for it to be nicely read by the human eyes as well. And the cover letter, you know, the difference between the LinkedIn and the resume, they are different. And then the difference between those two and what you have to put on the cover letter. So that's important.

So I'm too young for the role, that's why I didn't get it. Or I'm too old for the job market, and that's why I'm not getting the responses. That's why I'm not moving forward with my job applications. I can see, and I can empathize with that. A lot of my clients come to me with that conversation at the forefront, and that's usually how we start connecting and engaging, and I very quickly flip that conversation. You're not going to get anywhere thinking like that. Anywhere. Just think about the US president, think about the VP, Biden and Camilla Harris; they’re not what you would ten years ago, 20 years ago would expect to see at the white house. You know why? Because we live longer, we are getting healthier and healthier as we age, and it would be expected that people can now work for longer. So that is not really an excuse. You have a lot of excellent experience under your belt that there will be roles and opportunities that would validate that and need that—that trustworthiness, that likability factor, that mentoring and leadership that you bring to a role. 

So how can we identify those strengths to make your application stand out? And then look at Jacinta Arden, you know, if we're looking at politicians, because that's easy for everybody to relate. She is very young. A few years ago, you would say too young to be a prime minister of New Zealand. But the thing that's happening in the world now is that information is so easily and freely available to everyone that if you are an up and coming rising star, and you want to excel, and you have the ambition, you definitely have the tools at hand to learn, to develop yourself.  To move faster than others and go for it as she has done. If you use those as examples for yourself and inspiration for yourself, then the world is your oyster. You can definitely do it. So that is no excuse. 

As a coach, I can't fix your age. You can't fix your age. And I am a strengths-based coach. I always say this to people. When people say to me, ‘Oh, I need a coach because I lack confidence.’ I'm like, ‘well, then I'm not your coach.’ I'm not going to work on your weaknesses. We're going to find what you're good at and what you will see as an outcome of that your confidence will boost. So I can't fix your age, but I can certainly give you some tips and ideas that will help you overcome that mindset and shift the way you're thinking and some techniques. And I'll make you aware of those now and educate you about thinking about them now. 

And then, if you want to invest further, consider joining my group coaching program. It is an investment, yes, but will it make a huge difference in your career? Possibly. Yes, it will. So think about what you can do to help yourself springboard and get out of this funk that you might have at the moment that is keeping you from advancing. There is a bias out there. Yes. We still need to fix the world. Again, something I can't control, but I can help clients overcome some of those challenges. If you feel like there is a bias, some biases are stronger in some industries and some sectors and some countries than others. Remember, I have clients all over the world. So it really depends on where you are. You have to be aware, you have to acknowledge that, and you have to build that into your job-hunting strategy or your career plans. Don't shy away. Don't leave it out there as the elephant in the room that shall not be spoken. No, no, no. You bring it to the forefront, and you tackle it. Okay. 

So as an example of that, if you are a very wise, skilled, experienced professional, those are the words that you use. My years of experience and my skills that I've developed in this sector will help your organization develop this new strategy. I can work alongside your executive team, or I can support your CEO, or it can support your team leader in bringing along all of the experience that I've accumulated. In addition, I'm also certified in this, this, and that. So that's the second part. You don't shy away, but you also have to continuously learn. Don't shut down from innovation; never stop learning. And if you're finding that difficult, then you need to address that yourself. You need to take a good look at yourself and think, ‘am I sabotaging my chances by starting to get cynical about the world.’ You can’t. You are going to be in the same sandbox with younger people. You're going to be in the world, working with different generations. And you will need to empathize and be compassionate and understanding towards different ways of thinking that are different from the way that you were raised and educated and so forth. And you need to continuously evolve. 

And if you are younger and you are struggling to find your mojo, follow someone who is a few steps ahead of you. Maybe you don't know this person, but look up on LinkedIn, somebody in your sector, industry, somebody that you can get inspiration from who is maybe ten years ahead of you so that you can understand how to move and do that career progression. Maybe follow a few because things don't usually go exactly the same way for you. The idea is not to romanticize the outcomes and not to look at people that are like 20, 30 years ahead of you because that is quite harder for you to develop strategies and do a sort of a step-by-step path to reach that goal. But if you find people along the way between your preferred future and where you are now, you can start identifying what your next steps could be. So, those are some strategies that you can start doing today. And I hope that this may help you in sort of identifying ways to develop a better solution for something you can’t change, which is your age. I mean, you could lie. You can get away. [laugh] I don't recommend that. You don't need to do that. You really don't. So I guess that's it, don't forget to subscribe to the Facebook page if you haven't yet and look at those links that I added to the comment boxes. So if you have any comments or questions, you know that I'm always looking, and I'm always checking out what you're doing. Bye for now, have a great day. 

I hope you've enjoyed this myth-busting series. Those five myths, I think, were fun to tackle and generated a lot of interest on the Facebook page for sure. If you want to join the Facebook page, you can just find me there, Renata Bernarde. My handle is @renatabernarde.co, and I'm also on Instagram with the same handle. And the links will be in the episode show notes if you want to find me. All right, I'll see you next week.

 

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