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Aim Higher, and Get the Job


Are you going on a lot of interviews, but not getting any offers? The problem might be that you’re setting your sights too low.

reach for the stars 

(Photo Credit: xJason.Rogersx/Flickr)

“[Hiring managers] only recognize two things: predator, and prey,” writes Liz Ryan, a former Fortune 500 HR SVP and current CEO of The Human Workplace, at Forbes. “If you look like a predator when you show up for your job interview, they’re not going to hire you.”

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Ryan tells the story of a client who kept applying for jobs he “could perform in his sleep,” but not getting any offers. A purchasing manager, he was getting 20-minute meetings with C-level executives that extended to hours-long (free) consulting sessions — but not receiving a job offer at the end of it.

His real problem, Ryan and colleagues determined, was that he was targeting his job search too low, at the manager level, when he should have been applying for director or VP spots, and speaking directly with C-level execs. By aiming lower, he was talking with people who correctly saw him as potential competition, and therefore not a candidate they were prepared to help land a toehold in the organization.

How can you tell if you need to shoot for a higher level in your own job search?

1. Listen.

Keeping your ears open and listening to what hiring managers are telling you. Don’t assume they’re kidding if you hear things like, “I’d be afraid to hire you. You’d have my job in no time.” A job interview is not a trip to a comedy club. Assume that they’re telling you the truth, no matter how ironically they put it.

2. Reassess your skills.

Look at the job titles above yours on the corporate ladder: do they involve skills and experience that’s more in line with your CV than the role you’re currently targeting? This is especially important if you’ve spent a few years at the same organization. It’s easy to lose sight of your potential when you’ve been toiling away in one place for years.

3. Think about the future.

Where do you want to be next year, five years from now, or even further down the line?  Keep your long-term goals in mind when you’re making career plans, no matter how short-term. Even if you’re only looking for a job right now because you have to, due to a layoff or another sudden change, there’s no reason to restrict yourself.

Sometimes, the only way to get ahead is to skip a few steps.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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