The Job Hunter
By Rabbi Mordechai Kruger
I met a friend recently who told me he wanted to find a new job. He said that he wanted my help with his search, so we should get together, maybe in September or October. When I asked why he wanted to wait, he said it was too early to start looking now. He figured that it would take about three months to find a new job, which he wanted to have by January. So October would be fine. He promised to call.
Now this was a friend, so I assume he’s being sincere. And I know that there is no way to know how long it will take to find a job. But what he said made me think about a question. If someone wants to find a job, when should he start looking? Well, that seemed a little obvious. As soon as you decide you want to find a job, you should start looking, of course. But then I realized that for this question, like for so many other questions that people have about job hunting, the obvious answer is not only wrong, it is hurtful. Because the truth is that every person who works, or ever wants to work, should always be looking for a job. That’s right. A.B.L. Always Be Looking. Or maybe not . . .
The truth is that no one should ever be “looking for a job.” Everyone should be making sure that they are able to deliver outstanding value for an employer (or customer), and making sure that the right people know about it. For getting hired, these two points are the keys. They are the keys for a student who wants to be hired after graduation, for someone who wants to change jobs, and for someone who has lost their job. For professionals and the self-employed. And even for someone who has a good, stable, and secure job that he never wants to leave, these are the keys.
I am not referring to the trite point that today, what seems like a steady job can disappear in a minute. I mean something much more subtle and basic. I mean that every single day, every employer and customer asks himself, “Am I getting maximum value from this person?” Not because they could hire someone else to do the job better (though they might), but because more than anything else, the point of the marketplace is to generate maximum value for the customer. Every worker, every day, has to be focused on how he can provide that value. In effect, every worker, every day, has to get hired.
For a student, this means that while excelling in his courses is important, gaining workplace skills through internships, building relationships with mentors, and learning how to relate well to all kinds of people is far more important. For someone who has a job, developing nourishing relationships with mentors and colleagues while constantly growing his skill set has to be part of his daily routine. When these things become part of a normal working life, moving to a new job whenever necessary becomes effortless. Workers who have neglected them will find job hunting far more difficult.
So perhaps the rule should be A.B.G.—Always Be Growing. The workplace of today doesn’t tolerate complacency. And as much as we all have lots of other demands on our time and attention, we have to place professional growth on our “absolutely must do” list. Even before the first day on the job, and never stopping. It won’t guarantee that you’ll never lose your job. It will mean that you will always be ready for your next opportunity no matter why it arises. You will go to work with excitement and anticipation of what might come next. And success at work will really be success at life. v
Rabbi Mordechai Kruger is the founder and director of Pathways to Parnassa, an organization providing job-search and career coaching to our community. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.