Job Seeking Made Simple: The Basics

Few job hunters take the time to understand the job market and how it works. Where do managers look for applicants to hire and how do they go about making their selections? How can this information be leveraged to give you a leg up on getting the job you want?

To start off, one frequent flaw in job-hunting system is that people do not take time to carefully consider the last four words of the preceding sentence. Ask yourself, do you really know what job you want and would do almost anything within your power to get? Or do you scan the classified ads and respond by saying, “Gee, that would be fun to do,” or maybe “I can do that”?

Now imagine a hiring manager looking at two candidates. One is terrifically qualified, maybe over-qualified. The other is marginally qualified, but knows exactly what he wants and has a plan to make that happen. Doing the job offered fits immediately and perfectly in that person’s plans to be happy and productive.

job seeking

It may surprise you that the reason managers do not hire over-qualified workers is because they did not become managers in order to make people unhappy. They believe hiring someone overqualified means they will have a grumpy, cynical employee on their hands. They prefer, like anyone else, to make people happy. So, they hire the less qualified candidate who is sure that this is the job they want – because it will make them happy. They want happy, productive employees.

Admittedly, this is a pared-down explanation for how the hiring process works. With highly technical skills, sometimes managers hire someone qualified, regardless of their outlook, because that’s what the job requires. There are many other variations on this scenario, as well, but the basics are often misunderstood.

Again consider two candidates, one qualified, and the other not qualified, but willing and able to learn the job. The manager finds the qualified candidate to be someone they just do not like. The unqualified candidate is personable, pleasant, likeable. Wouldn’t you you rather hire someone you like, who can be trained, than someone you don’t like and will have to be stuck with day after day? Within reason, this is also a common hiring scenario.

So, how do you find out what job is the best match for you? First off all, you could look through the Department of Labor’s lists of occupations and job trends. You don’t want to chose a job, like “film developer” in the digital age, as those jobs are being phased out of existence. You should also see what jobs pay and consider why the pay is high or low. There’s no sense aiming for a job that pays less than you require to make ends meet, because, again, employers want employees who will be happy with what they have to offer – not miserable.

Look at large job listings to see what is available at the present time. There are ample opportunities if you look through listings at, where you can search employment openings by city.

Divide opportunities into what you can do today and what you might be able to do in the future with job experience or a better education behind you. Remember, you want to be that person who knows exactly what they want and has charted a path for getting there.

Where employers find workers has changed dramatically in recent years with the advent of the World Wide Web. But the reasoning has not changed. Employers simply like to have choices among highly qualified applicants – to find one that they like.

Employers are also busy. They don’t always have time to carefully word a classified ad, call a local publisher and interview 50 people to narrow the number down to 10 and then to two or three and then to one person. Like anyone else, they like shortcuts, which means turning to hiring agencies or relying on their human resources people to do the pre-screening. If they can skip the early screenings (with 50 applicants) and the mid-level screenings (when it is narrowed down to 10) and move right to the final two or three candidates, then so much the better.

Now you see the problem. Along the chain of command in the hiring process, human resources departments are generally there to screen out unwanted candidates, while the manager, last on the list of people you will meet, selects who to hire.

That doesn’t help the clearly unqualified candidates, but nobody wants to hire a worker who is too unqualified and will eventually flunk out of the position. So, you have to present yourself as someone meeting all the minimal requirements or show some extra flair (some panache!) that gets you through the early screening.

This is, again, where it helps to know exactly what you want. Boy, is that ever impressive! You might be astonished to learn how many job candidates shrug their shoulders during an interview and confess that they don’t really know why they are looking at this particular position. Boy, human resources staff get tired of having to weed out those who don’t make an effort to study what the position might be and how it would fit their lifetime goals.