Tuesday, May 17, 2011
A Job Search Story: The Dangers of Overconfidence
I have been running this blog for nonprofit jobs for about 2 1/2 months (give or take). You've read about all the job search tips I have had to offer, and hopefully they have had some help. I haven't really talked a whole lot about my experiences though, and that is mostly by design. Let's face it, you're not here to read about me, and that's not the point of this blog anyway. But today I thought I'd share an anecdote from my life that I think is pertinent to all of you job seekers out there. So sit back, grab some popcorn, and let me take you back to the Summer of 2009... (cue flashback music)
I had picked a terrible time to graduate college, that was for sure. The country was at the height of the Great Recession, and it stood to reason that I might have some difficulty finding jobs. Frankly, I had no expectations of finding a job anytime soon. It was with great surprise, then, that I almost immediately found a job that fit my experience level. What's more, it was at a company I had previously interned at, and it was a similar position as well. I was sure that with my connections at the company, as well as my previous experience doing that kind of work (Editorial Assistant, in case you were wondering), that I was a lock for the job. I'm pretty sure you know what happened next.
Weeks went by, and I finally heard back from the company: unfortunately, I was not chosen. It was a rude awakening to the harsh realities of the modern job search; despite my connections at this job and my apparent skills, I was rejected. It's hard to pinpoint one reason I didn't get the job; there were obviously many factors, and the competitive environment spurred on by the recession obviously didn't help. But if there was one specific flaw that I could point to in my job search process, it was overconfidence.
It's true that I had a good connection at the job I applied to, but I figured that was enough. I didn't bother to work that source hard enough: I figured just mentioning the person was enough. What's more, I didn't really do much follow up with the company. I thought they were busy enough, and they didn't need a nagging job seeker calling them up. Simply put, I pretty much thought I had this job in the bag, and there was no reason to do any additional work. Obviously, I was dead wrong on that count, and you should take this as a lesson during your nonprofit job search.
It's great to be confident; in fact, it's necessary. If you apply to a non profit job thinking you aren't going to get it, you are only making a difficult process even more difficult. However, if you are overconfident like I was, you will lead yourself to believe that you don't have to do any of the hard, but necessary, work that comes with job hunting. And that, as you can see, is just about the worst thing you can do.