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As a Job Seeker, Handle What You Control First

A successful job search begins with identifying what you can control and controlling them.

By Nick KossovanPublished 10 months ago 4 min read
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As a Job Seeker, Handle What You Control First
Photo by The Jopwell Collection on Unsplash

Job searching is frustrating.

You are waiting to hear back from employers.

You are waiting for approval on stuff.

You are waiting for answers.

You are dealing with corporate bureaucracies.

You are depending on recruiters, HR managers, and hiring managers to green-light you.

You are dealing with the consequences of decisions made due to “something” you could not control.

It amazes me how often job seekers complain about things they cannot control. Yet, when the ball is in their court, they are either slow, indecisive, or do not do their best.

Stoicism, a Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early 3rd century BC, asserts that there are things within our control and things outside our control. This delineation goes beyond merely classifying things or learning how to practice the Art of Acquiescence, whereby we accept and move on from what we have no control over. The Art of Acquiescence establishes priorities, which most job seekers lack.

A successful job search begins with identifying what you can control and controlling them. You will never be able to speed up an employer’s hiring process or if and when a hiring manager gets back to you. However, you can use your wait time to decide what you will do when they respond, along with continuing your job search. No amount of yelling or posting on LinkedIn “how the hiring process is broken” will force employers to hire you. You cannot eliminate the online forms many employers expect you to fill out before they consider your candidacy. (Yes, I know, the information is on your resume.) However, reducing your job search inefficiencies, such as creating email templates to send to potential employers, your network and others who can support your search will save you time.

Rather than beating your head against walls that will never yield, focus on what you can control. Handle this first. Prioritize getting your house in order, improving your processes, and dealing with what "it is," is up to you.

Some things are up to you, and some things are not up to you. It is that simple. I have said it in previous columns, and I will say it in this column, as a job seeker, you do not own the employer’s hiring process; the employer does. The most important thing you can do during your job search and throughout your career is to discern what is up to you and what is not, then focus on what is up to you.

Ignoring what is out of your control does not mean you do not care about an employer practicing, from your perspective, ageism or being biased against a particular race or gender. Getting a job is your top priority as a job seeker—keep your eye on the ball! It is in your interest to focus on what you can control while looking for a job rather than complaining about how employers hire, a practice that has become all too common among job seekers.

In the course of your job search, there are an infinite number of things you cannot control, the top six being:

  1. Job market trends
  2. Industry growth and demand for employees
  3. Unprofessional employers
  4. Increasing competition
  5. Judgments and subconscious bias
  6. The final decision

However, if you focus on the following controllable rather than all the uncontrollable, your job search will be considerably expedited.

1. Your LinkedIn profile, resume, and cover letter.

The quality of your application materials is wholly within your control. Ensure your LinkedIn profile, resume, and cover letter are flawless, error-free, and populated with results-oriented statements. (e.g., “I increased my sales in 2022” versus “In 2022, I increased my daily number of outbound calls from 40 to 60, resulting in an 18% increase in sales.”)

2. How well you prepare for an interview.

Preparation is key to a successful interview. Visit the company’s website to learn about its history and top executives. Review the company’s social media pages to learn about new products or current projects. Be ready to answer common interview questions and to ask the employer a few questions at the end.

3. Your job search efforts.

According to Dr. Kazuo Inamori (1932 – 2022), who was known as the Buddhist Billionaire, success has a formula:

Success = Ability x Effort x Attitude

Kazuo’s success formula suggests that the outcome of our life, work, studies, hobbies, etc., is the product of three factors: ability, effort, and attitude.

Entirely in your control is the effort you put into your job search. The chances of landing a job are slim if you spend just a few hours a week searching through job postings and sending out resumes. If you want great results, take your job search seriously. Make searching for a job your full-time job.

Since there are numerous aspects of your job search that you cannot control, it is essential to take the things you can control seriously. When dealing with the things you can control, especially with respect to how you present yourself to employers, go above and beyond to stand out and impress employers.

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About the Creator

Nick Kossovan

Nick Kossovan, a veteran of the corporate landscape, offers job search advice, which appears in newspapers and online news outlets across Canada, that is pragmatic and unsweetened.

Send Nick your questions to [email protected].

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