By Rabbi Mordechai Kruger
I often meet people who say, “I really need a job. I’ll take anything!” A job search that starts with “I’ll take anything” is almost guaranteed to fail.
I know that the person who says this means well. He thinks he is being flexible, showing his willingness to adapt to the needs of the employer. He also hopes that once he gets into the company, he’ll find a mentor that will give him “a break.” Maybe he’ll even be “discovered” and make it “really big.”
Every employer knows that what the job hunter means is, “I have no idea how my skills or experience, whatever they may be, could be useful to you. I’m actually hoping that you will have rachmanus on me and give me a job. I’m a lot like a schnorrer knocking at your door, except I’m looking to move in.” But companies do not, and cannot, hire people as a form of chesed. They hire people who can do the job they need to get done. And this job hunter isn’t doing very much to show that he’s the right man for the job.
This job hunter might protest my point. He says, “No, I’m a smart, hard-working guy. I can contribute to a business.” Well if that’s true, here’s a suggestion: start using that “smart, hard-working” stuff now, before you come ask for a job. Do enough thinking ahead of time so that you are able to explain what talents and skills you have, and what kind of job you think would match them. Even better, learn as much as you can about the company ahead of time. Be as specific as possible in describing the contribution you are prepared to make to the company’s success. Then at least the employer has something to evaluate as he considers the risk you are asking him to take. Without this preparation, you are saying, “I’m too lazy to do my homework. Do you want to hire me?” What answer do you expect?
Are there any jobs you can look for without doing this kind of “homework”? What about the baggers at the supermarket? Well, you still need to decide if that’s the right job for you, and you need to come prepared to show that you are prompt, reliable, courteous, and well-groomed. The truth is that every job requires a set of skills, and when you are prepared to demonstrate those skills, you can use your contacts and networking to find a way to show them to a potential employer.
Do I hear you saying, “But I don’t know what my skills are, or how to match them to a job, or how to network so I can get a chance to talk to an employer?” For that, you should talk to a job coach. You’ll have to read a few more columns to find out what that’s all about. 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.