April 27, 2017

Rallying Against Your Instincts During Your Job Hunt

Posted by AGU Career Center

Earlier this month, David Harwell wrote an article about the power of positive thinking.  While his article focused on how to receive feedback, I’d like to revisit the same ideas today under the lens of your job search.

In the earlier article, Dave talked about how our “fight-or-flight” instincts tend to kick in when we receive criticisms.  Fight-or-flight doesn’t just impact how well you respond to how others’ opinions, it can also impact your job search.

How many times have you read a job listing and thought to yourself, “That’s my dream job,” only to have your heart sink at those two fateful words: PREFERRED QUALIFICATIONS?

While it may feel like the kiss of death to your happiness, it doesn’t need to be.  Rather than focus all your energy on the second part of that phrase, take a deep breath and re-read the first word. Preferred.

Disclaimer: There is a difference between “preferred” and “required.” Some employers, however, will use the word “required” when they would accept an applicant who does not mean the requirements.  You will never know if you don’t apply, but use your best judgement.

Just like you have an idea of what your “dream job” is, your future employer also has an image of his or her “dream candidate.”  Dreams and reality are not the same though, and your employer’s expectations may exceed the pool of applicants. 

I have heard many things when sitting on the hiring manager’s side of the table.  There are also things I’ve never heard.

Things I have heard: “I’m really happy that Suzy wasn’t deterred by the preferred qualifications.  She’s going to fit in great!”

Things I have never heard: “I can’t believe this underqualified person wasted my time.”

In Dave’s article about feedback and reinforcing positive messages, he urged you to only write down the positive messages when receiving feedback.  I’d like to encourage you to do something similar when you see an open position but are worried about your qualifications.

Go through the job listing in its entirety and highlight those skills and tasks that you are qualified to complete.  After you’ve done that, go back and read only the sections that you have highlighted.

Does the job still seem like a good fit?  Then stop what you’re doing and go apply!  Good luck!

Nathaniel Janick is the Career Services Coordinator at the American Geophysical Union.