Gore Vidal famously said that, ‘whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies.’ Much the same might be said when a friend – or ex-colleague – finds a new job and you don’t, especially if you’ve had the misfortune to be out of the market for a long time (or maybe just out of the market for anything more than 50 days).
However, rather than sitting around and feeling bitter and twisted it might be worth giving some thought to why other people seem to be so much more successful than you at segueing into new roles. There are usually good reasons for these things, after all. Persistent failure to penetrate the job market is usually because…
You’re not going straight to the source
It’s just a thought, but maybe you’re not getting a job because you’re piffling about on the outside, hoping that people who aren’t really in any position to hire will take you on?
“You won’t get a job if you’re not approaching the point of purchase,” said Michael Moran, founder and chief executive at career coaching firm 10Eighty. “Maybe you’re using agencies or headhunters, or putting cold calls into HR departments. Instead, you need to identify the person with the power to hire and get an introduction through someone who knows them.
“Most people abdicate responsibility for their job search to a third party,” adds Moran. “That’s a mistake.”
You’ve neglected your career for years and they haven’t
Maybe all those other people are getting jobs because they’ve been secretly working at their network for years while you’ve been going home after work and watching box sets?
“You need to plan your career,” says Moran. “If you’re laid off, you can’t expect to suddenly find a ready-made network. You need to invest time in building your network while you’re still working.”
The people who do invest in their career whilst they’re still employed stand out like a sore thumb when they’re laid off, said Moran: “It’s like they started the race before everyone else.”
You’re holding back
Maybe the people who are getting jobs are more charming than you, and more willing to ask for favours.
The people who get jobs are prepared to dig deep into their networks, said David Schwartz of New York based search firm D.N. Schwartz & Co, and a former recruiter for Goldman Sachs. If you’re not getting a job and other people are, you need to dig deeper. “Maybe you’re afraid of reaching out to people you haven’t been in contact with for a while,” said Schwartz.
Even if you’ve neglected your network, try to overcome your reticence and ‘reach out’. Often, Schwartz said people will be pleased to hear from you.
Ok, so maybe there’s not a good reason why you’re not getting hired – maybe you’re just unlucky. “Sometimes one person’s network knows of an opening, while another person’s isn’t aware of it,” said Schwartz. “At one level it’s the luck of the draw.”
Actually, other people aren’t getting jobs – you’re just imagining it
Finally, maybe you just think other people are getting jobs. A proportion of the population are ‘realists’ (read pessimists) said Rob Yeung, a psychologist at leadership consultancy Talentspace. They will always think that other people are having an easier time than them. Actually, this may not be the case at all. In London at least, very few experienced bankers are getting hired right now.