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Job Corner: 3 Job Search Fails That Trip Women Up

Monday, March 16, 2015


Even though the job marketing is softening quite a bit, there are still lots of competition for jobs in any area, especially in Portland. In fact, Time.com recently named Portland one of the “weaker” cities for hiring in 2015. 

So it’s even more important that you put you best self forward; both in your  “inner game” and in your strategies and tactics for the job search.

If you’re a woman in the job search, you might find challenges in addition to the status of the job market. You may struggle with other strategies that can make or break you in a job search. See if these apply to you, and if so, start taking action steps to break through the obstacles. 

1. You Don’t Know What You’re Good At 

Too often women think in terms of job search as a transaction. Find job, apply for job, interview, get job. But your real mission is to find work you love, and that capitalizes on strengths you already have. When your innate strengths are well matched with your work, you can reach your highest potential and level of satisfaction in your work. You’ll also be happier in what you do, and far less tired!

Take action: Understanding who you are and what you bring to the job are essential to your job search. Use assessments like StrengthsFinderMyers-Briggs, or other assessments to find more about who you are and how that should inform your job search. 

2. It’s Hard to Talk About Yourself

In interview prep I see how frequently women dislike talking about themselves, and how difficult it is for them to do. In the job search, one of the most essential skills you need is the ability to talk about yourself! You can get away with talking about yourself on LinkedIn or a resume, but at the end of the day, an offer will come down to how well you can talk about yourself in an interview.

Whether it’s in networking groups, informational interviews or job interviews themselves, your product is you. And you can’t sell a product if you can’t talk about it. 

Take action: Write down 25 things you want an employer or your network to know about you – positive aspects of how you work, your skills and strengths, and more. After you’ve written them, read them aloud. Do so four or five times. It may seem like a silly exercise, but all clients report that it shifts their mindset to be far more prepared to talk about themselves more capably in the job search. 

3. You Don’t Take Credit For Work You Have Done 

“Oh, I can’t say that.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard women say that in the job search. It’s typically what I hear when we’re talking about accomplishments, and results that need to be presented as evidence in the job search. 

Often clients think because they didn’t accomplish something all by themselves, they can’t talk about it. Or they may just be uncomfortable – and not used to – talking about their accomplishments as a credit to themselves. After all, most work feedback is focused on fixing what’s wrong, not necessarily celebrating what went well. 

Bringing that focus into your job search can hurt you. Being a good team member and sharing the credit is great when you’re on the team. In a job search, however, you need to talk about your contributions from an “I” perspective.

A recent study showed that particularly in mixed gender workgroups, women were not included to take credit for their contributions. That might work in the workplace (actually, it doesn’t work so well there either). In the job search, however, employers want you to articulate what you’ve done well, and how it had an impact in the organization.

Take action: Mark one hour on your calendar this Friday. Go back through your major projects and accomplishments of 2014; capture the highlights, accomplishments, and contributions. Then, practice telling them to someone, as if you’re telling a story. Get familiar with enunciating not only what you did, but the impact and success you created for yourself, and for the team. 

If you are in the job search, think about how you’ll tackle each of these challenges as you go forward. Because they aren’t just issues in the job search, they’re essentials for your entire career!

Lea McLeod helps people meet challenges in the job search – and in the job - head on. Formerly a Director Level manager at Hewlett-Packard, she hired, fired and managed people around the world. Now, she helps people find great jobs, do great work, and leave the office on time. 

She also works with individuals and teams to make the work experience better, resolve conflict, and address things like generational differences. Get started with her 21 Days To Peace At Work e-course. It’s free!


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