Attitude! The key to the right career move.

Attitude! The key to the right career move. 

by Rob Ridout

Rob Ridout - CVforLife career coaching CV writer

The job market remains a massive black hole for most individuals. So before you are even in the job market, you are tied down with this dark cloud of pessimism, lined with the possibility of a long drawn out process of bleeding through the eyes. Really? 
You are going to be moving jobs a few more times in your career lifespan so get your attitude right before it gets the better of you. So there are some basics that I try to teach all my clients when they enter the market. 
These principles are critical to your entire employment process. However, some are more efficiently used at the initial part of entering the job market and then other principles focus on the actual engagement process such as interviews all that nasty stuff. 

Become the opportunist 

Go and read one of my previous articles on this critical subject. 

Indeed this is where it all starts. We enter the job market with a victim mentality, not sure if we are going to find that ideal role and ideal company. Candidates are also extremely cynical about all the players in the recruitment. Remember all these participants make massive amounts of money placing you, so these opportunistic talent merchants have a very proactive attitude, so why should you not too. Many times I see that a negative view is down to poor confidence especially when entering the market with poor CV’s and other brand material. Also, there may be some hidden issues such as bad moves in a CV. Most candidates will have had a bad move in any case during their career. So what, get over it! 
Really when you move into the market you need to be pumped and ready to roll. Your strategy should be focused and assertive bordering on aggressive. Difficult for most I know. 

One of the first proactive measures you should take when entering the market is to get prepared. Get your brand material in order, make sure that your CV, cover letter and LinkedIn profile all look the part, remember all of these documents represent your personal brand and they should tell a story to the reader. 
Secondly get your story right. You are not going to be able to move through the interview quagmire if you don’t have a good story to sell or tell. Your story should flow and you should be prepared to answer the hard questions. So get practicing. 
Thirdly get all your background checks sorted, call your references, get your salary details together and all your qualification checks on hand. Nothing stops a process in its tracks more than not having your background checks on hand when presented with an offer. 

Right! So now you are ready to get going. 

So get going. Don't be shy, most candidates immediately hit the breaks and become a job spec auditor when considering roles. Specifications are over scrutinised. Remember you will only get the information you need first hand when at the actual face to face interview. Success is not attained through a successful shortlisting; you need to go to the interview with the employer and preferably the decision maker. So you will need to throw yourself into the market and create opportunities. Remember that the final decision whether or not to take an offer lies with you, so you don't have to sign the offer at the end of the day. But don’t take a conservative attitude to going for interviews and rob yourself f the right to make that decision. 

The good old job specification. 
One of the biggest reason why candidates don’t engage opportunities is the job specification. So let's get this into perspective. Where does the spec come from? 

The specifications that candidates view typically come from two sources - either from recruiter or company. Recruiters always rewrite their specs as they don't want their competitors to know who they are working with. Most recruiters do not get the brief from the actual company line manager, so the spec you are provided with is often a thin version of the original and therefore cannot be used to make a decision about whether you want to go for an interview or not. 

Then you have the company specification. Now, this is a story entirely to itself. Most jobs specs are outdated and often only been updated since the incumbent who has occupied the role, started in the position.  Hence most job specs are old and out of date. I am yet to be convinced that the HR practitioner who is tasked with finding the person to fill this role understands the role and sometimes even the companies selling points. So that grey area in the spec is then carried over to the recruiter and any other form of advertising platform. The bottom line is that the specification your are looking at most times is actually not the entire picture and sometimes not focused on the real essence of the role. This information can only be gained from meeting the actual line manager or a well-seasoned HR practitioner. 

So what do you do? 

So here is the bottom line. If you as candidate discount roles based on specs, you may be overlooking roles that are great just because the person who brokered the specification has not done so correctly. 
So look at the spec with an opportunistic eye. Rather go to the interview and find out yourself if the role is for you even if you have to move through to a second interview to meet the line manager. 
Worse case is that you go for lots of interviews which may ne annoying but will provide you with great practice. 

Read this great article from a different perspective. 

Research! Research! Research! 

I meet a lot of candidates who moan about making a bad move. The normal complaints range from bad corporate culture, working in a role that was sold to them incorrectly and the list really goes on forever. The truth is that employers really do not want to employ the wrong person. Unfortunately, many companies still fail at the most basic recruitment exercises and then blame the recruiter. 
I apologetically place the blame squarely on the candidate. If you join a company and you have not done your research you just cannot blame anybody but yourself. Sounds harsh. With the absolutely massive amount of information available on social media, there is no boundary to what information you cannot find regarding companies and individuals involved in the recruitment process. LinkedIn, of course, is the most natural place to start this research journey and you should use this platform to its maximum. 

So how do you do this - simple? 

LinkedIn can be used to not only to gather information about your interviewers but also about the incumbent who occupied the role that you are being interviewed for. Vital information to look for includes the average time of employment within the company and specifically employees working in departments that you are being interviewed for. Then you can also profile whether or not employees were been promoted or moved laterally in the organisation. Even looking at where the management team has been employed from and how long these leaders have been employed in the company. The is really 007’s playground. It's up to you to use the information. 

Remember that this information can also be used in preparation for your interview process just don’t give the interviewer the impression that you are a stalker. 

Read this book to get a proper perspective on corporate culture and then use these elements in your interview process to gather research on whether or not a corporate culture is suited to you. 

Become the detective 

This is not the same as research! 

This is adopting an assertive attitude and not just sitting in your interview waiting to be killed by an overeager interviewer. The ability to probe your interviewer is a bit of an art but really comes down to one very important aspect - PRACTICE! And we go back to my point on the go to your interviews. 

After you have reviewed the spec, you should have generated a list of important questions. Your goal is to move through the entire interview process and get these questions answers so that you can come to an objective informed decisions. Remember that the interview process is really designed to screen rather than sell and most companies struggle to move into the selling space. This is where good moves take place, the more informed you are as a candidate, the better chance you have of getting to the final interview with a list of critical question that you can ask the CEO or business leader. 

The aim is to try to create a conversation rather than an interview narrative. Experienced Hiring Managers will try move to this point in the interview in any case as they want the candidate to be relaxed and answer questions honestly. Unfortunately, most screening practitioners just don't do this due to a lack of experience. The balance between asking questions in an interview and answering questions in the interview becomes key to a successful outcome. What does need to be said is that if you are going to ramble along in your interview, there is no way that your interview will be constructive as the time constraint issues could become a critical failure.

Choosing who to have this conversation with is very important, most initial interviews are merely a screening interview and therefore you should strategise to move through this interview with your story rather than trying to be the detective. Often the detective part of your strategy will come into play at the second interview with the line manager. There you will have a chance to ask real-life questions. Remember try keep the conversation balanced and not across as probing. Interviewers love to know that you are interested in their business, but not obsessed. My last word on becoming the detective makes a list your bottom line move motivators. Don’t let emotion overpower you, stick to your top key values pointers. There is nothing wrong with moving into exciting new a company with a great corporate culture but make sure you do so with open eyes. Remember the choice is yours. 

The victim mentality 

Read my article on this very important topic. 

We all suffer from this deep down inside. The feeling that in a market with unemployment recession. 
This victim mentality is almost inbred into us from an early age when we leave school and graduate. Although this problem manifests itself when we enter the job market the engagement process is however where this has a massive positive or negative effect. At the interview stage, most candidates capitulate and become a mumbling mess of nervous. Of course, the HR partitioner makes this worse by trying to engage potential hires through a cross-examination process. 
This victim mentality mindset is relay overcome by two critical steps - practice and preparation. 
Moving through an interview process with confidence will provide you an opportunity to become the detective ask the right questions. So really all these important attitude elements are interlinked and will play together to your advantage as you move through the process of finding work. The really critical thing about not being the victim is the ability to delve into the mindset of the leaders in the company to try to understand corporate culture and whether or not you will suite this culture fit. Until you climb out of the victim pit of misery, you will never be able to probe this very complex issue and therefore stand the chance of making awful career choices. 

Don't be shy to apply

There is no big brother watching us!

I see many candidates concerning themselves about prostituting yourself. Indeed this problem is for CEO’s only. Nobody is watching and keeping notes, just get on with it.  

We are all very green on the interview subject so early in your career you should start to try to create a constructive regime regards your interview strategy and this can only be done by going for interviews. The reality is that when companies enter the market to find staff, there are so many candidates and candidate sourcing methods available that some companies lose track themselves, so often applying on one platform may not even mean your CV gets seen. This usually is where the wheels come off. Most candidates get upset when they realise that their CV is not being viewed and therefore not being considered. Victim mentality call to action! 

Recruiters will post roles on multiple platforms; recruitment portals will, in turn, trawl the internet rehashing job specs all over the place, is all just a bit of a mess soon to be solved by AI of course. 

So your strategy is simple - for goodness sake apply! Candidates will see a job spec that mentions a specific requirement and then not apply. Remember that it is the role of the screener to screen and therefore they should do their job. I work on a lot of roles advertised that change after they have been advertised. Companies may change the spec and not update the spec all the job platforms or companies just change the requirement as the advertisement is not attracting enough candidates. It takes one thing in your CV to impress a hiring manager and spark an interview request. So logically if your CV is not informed of the reader, you stand no chance. 
Saying this off course there is also no need to be ridiculous and apply to everything that crosses your path. One additional thing I would like to mention here is that there is a massive shift towards a total career change, even though a lot of South African companies have been slow to react I see more and more candidates moving between industry sectors and engaging new sectors and new roles with subtle links to their previous roles. I think this trend will continue especially as our economy moves ahead especially with the emergence of small and medium businesses. This is very important when highlighting the necessity not to be shy to apply. Few companies will advertise they are looking for a person who has not performed the exact function with strong transferable skills as they would rather get an ideal candidate, so again it is your favor to be aggressive and apply where you can join the jobs. 

Great article on the changes in job application processes. 

Applying some of these simple attitude adjustments will assist you to create a proactive career strategy and ensure that your job moves are more planned. 

What is really comes down to is that you are in charge of your job move and you should stay in charge. 

Enter the job market with confidence and keep your eye on the end goal. Looking for work is always going to be part of your life journey so adopt a proactive approach and get the practice you need to get yourself into the best job possible. Happy hunting. 

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With 25 years of Headhunting experience, Rob assists his clients as a career coach and CV/Resume/LinkedIn writer. His business CVforLife based in Johannesburg offers career coaching services and career counseling as well as CV and resume writing services. 

Career Coaching Rob Ridout CV Writer CV writing LinkedIn writing 


  1. I like your article, I have also sent to you my resume. Thank you
    After G+ ends where or which social media will you be appart from facebook?


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