Find Your Dream Job, Episode 333:
Stop Applying for Jobs You Don’t Want, with Ebony Joyce
Airdate: February 2, 2022
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You’re ready to switch employers.
So, you apply for jobs that sound interesting.
Or jobs like what you have now.
You’ll decide later what you really want.
That’s a big mistake, says today’s guest. Ebony Joyce is here to talk about why you need to stop applying for jobs you don’t want.
She’s a job search strategist, a speaker, and a diversity and inclusion consultant at Next Level Career Services.
Ebony joins us from Indianapolis, Indiana.
Well, let’s jump right into it, Ebony. Why would someone apply for a job they don’t really want?
I find that job seekers are applying for jobs that they do not want because they don’t know what it is that they actually want. So, what they do is they apply for jobs that are lateral moves. Right?
So, they’re not looking for those jobs that are actually challenging them. They’re going to job descriptions, and they’re looking to check off, you know, eighty to a hundred percent of the tasks that the job description says. So, there isn’t that challenge there.
So, that’s typically what I see when candidates or job seekers come to me, and they’re frustrated in that job search process, is that they’re applying for jobs that they don’t want, but they don’t know what it is that they do want to do next.
It sounds like they’re doing that because it’s an easy next step. Just keep doing what you’re doing, but in a different setting. Is that what’s going on?
Yeah, so they really just haven’t taken the time to really identify what that next step looks like, so that’s part of it. Right? And then the other part is out of fear, that challenge, and trying to avoid frustration within the job searching process. It’s easier to apply for jobs that I know I can do versus stepping outside of what I would normally do and give myself some more, you know, give yourself that opportunity. It’s easier to apply for jobs that I know I can do but I don’t necessarily want.
So, inertia’s a factor here. It’s easy to keep doing what you’re doing, and then there’s fear, and it sounds like lack of clarity. I mean, just getting clear about either a new set of goals and the risk involved. Is that a good summary?
Absolutely. It ties all back to clarity and really taking the opportunity to step back, and a lot of people like to speed up in the job search process. Instead, you need to slow down first before you speed up. So, slow down, and really take a look back, and do those self-assessments about what it is you really want to do next, and not what’s easy, and a lot of people are doing what’s easy and not necessarily what’s going to be that challenge they’re looking for. You know, something that they think or believe they can already do.
It is remarkable how easy it is today, because of job boards and automated processes, to apply for jobs. It used to take a lot of effort, but if all you want to do is file applications, that’s a pretty easy thing to do.
Oh absolutely. A lot of times, what you do is you go to job boards and you just you’re looking at job descriptions, and you’re checking off those boxes, and say, “Oh, I a hundred percent qualify. I can do everything that this job has listed here.” And that’s great. But you find yourself bored in that role. It’s like just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should do it.
Well, I want to talk about what you should do instead. But before that, let’s talk about what happens when you apply for jobs you don’t really want, and you do get them. How does that affect your salary when you make a, what you described earlier as –
So, when you apply for jobs you don’t want, you get salaries that you don’t want either. So, they go hand in hand. Because you really haven’t articulated your value in a way that really is going to set you apart in that next salary bracket. So, what you’ve done is just – you’re just moving positions, you’re just moving companies, but you’re not necessarily moving up when it comes to the salary. Because you really haven’t really been able to articulate your value in a way that will set you up for that next salary bracket. So, you’re really just making a lateral move, and that lateral move comes with lateral salaries.
And how does that affect your lifetime’s earnings over the course of your career, if you’re just making lateral –
Studies have shown that when you are just taking lateral moves, you really are doing yourself a disservice, and it really can cost you, you know, upwards to a million dollars throughout the course of your career.
And how does that happen? Is it because you’re not getting the raises, Ebony, and continuing to move up the ladder?
It’s really because you’re continuously applying for jobs; you’re not giving yourself the opportunity to really grow in that position. So, if you are a specialist, you’re constantly applying for a specialist roles or a generalist role. You are not applying for those manager roles or those director-level positions, or if you are in that director-level position, you’re not looking for that VP position. You’re not looking to move up the ladder. You’re just still applying for managerial positions that really aren’t allowing you that bandwidth when it comes to those salaries.
And so a lot of times what people do is when they go onto job boards they’re looking at positions that are the same job titles, and so that job title is a thing, again, that if you’re already, you know, in a salary bracket, that same job title is gonna get you somewhere very similar to what you’re already making.
What about your professional reputation, Ebony? When you either apply for jobs you don’t want or take a job you don’t want, what happens to your reputation in the end?
What you start to do is you can create a name for yourself. But what your brand starts to say is that you know, you start to job hop in those positions, and you start to have really short stints within those companies. And so, when you go into those interviews, they’re gonna start asking you those questions and wanting to know, you know, why there are these gaps in your resume, or, you know, why you’ve only stayed with this company for, you know, three, six, or, you know, nine months, and that’s essentially because you’ve taken a role that you did not want and we just don’t know what we don’t know, and so, you get there, and you realize that while the company name may be different and the people are different, you’ve really just landed yourself right back into the same position.
One thing that happens when people are unclear about what they want to do next and they’re applying for jobs they don’t really want is they may consider graduate education or other forms of education. What are your thoughts about that? Is that a good avenue instead?
I don’t recommend that you know, an advanced degree or a certification is necessary. I think that most people can leverage the education, the experience, and the expertise that they already have to land that next-level position that they are looking for. The problem is that people just haven’t taken the time to identify that.
But in most cases, you know, getting that advanced degree is not going to necessarily land you the next role because what employers want to know is that, outside of the degree, that you can really articulate your value and whatever you’re going to bring to the organization, and degrees don’t necessarily mean that you’re bringing anything new, or that you’re going to save us money, increase our revenue. That does not mean that.
And I think that what a lot of times, when people go back to school, and they, you know, get degrees and certifications and all these things, that they’re really trying to compensate for something else, and say, oh, I have, you know, whether it’s X years of experience or even if it’s, you know, a degree that’s not what employers are looking for. They’re looking for you to come in and be able to solve our problems, and degrees don’t do that.
Well, I want to take a break. This is a great conversation, and when we come back, I want to talk, Ebony, about what you should do instead of taking jobs you don’t want.
So stay with us. When we return, Ebony Joyce will continue to share her advice about why you need to stop applying for jobs you don’t want and what to do instead.
Inertia can lead you to apply for jobs you don’t want.
It can also leave you with an out-of-date resume.
Find out how to update your resume.
Go to macslist.org/topresume.
A TopResume expert will look at your resume for free.
Go to macslist.org/topresume.
Find out how to bring your resume up to date.
And if you don’t want to fix it yourself, you can hire TopResume to do it for you.
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Now, let’s get back to the show.
We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Ebony Joyce.
She’s a job search strategist, a speaker, and a diversity and inclusion consultant at Next Level Career Services.
Ebony joins us from Indianapolis, Indiana.
Now, Ebony, before the break, we were talking about why you need to stop applying for jobs you don’t want. I loved the reasons that you shared and why people do this and let’s talk about what you can do instead. I know one of the first steps you recommend is to identify what you’re good at and not good at. Why is this important, Ebony?
I think the first thing that we have to do is we have to take an assessment. We have to, you know, this is what we talk about slowing down. We have to slow down before we can speed up.
So, the first thing we need to do is really just, you know, take that inventory. You know, what is it about your current role that you actually like doing? What is it about your current role that you don’t like? Because what we want to do is we want to do more of the things that we want to do, or we like doing, and we want to be able to mitigate, you know, the things that we don’t like doing as much.
And so, but again, if you go into roles that you already have, and you’re applying for roles that you necessarily don’t want, then you can find yourself doing more of the same thing, and you’re never really getting to that point where you’re doing more of what you like and less of what you don’t like, and we’re not looking for, you know, one hundred percent. Like no job is going to allow you to do one hundred percent of the things that you necessarily want to do. But we do want to do less of what we don’t like.
So, I see people applying for positions that say, oh, they’re, you know, spending a majority of their time doing presentations, and it’s like, you don’t like to present. You don’t like public speaking. So, why are you still looking for jobs that require you to do that? And so again, taking those assessments and saying, hey, I want to do less of this and more of that.
In your work with your clients, what have you found to be most effective in helping the people you serve figure out what they’re best at and what they just want to avoid?
Well, the first thing that we do is we have this, I do this day-in-the-life, and I tell people to walk. Let’s walk through, you know, really what you want your day-in-the-life to look like. What do you want that to feel like? You know, like you really have to, what I say, is to identify. You really want to understand what is the impact that you want to have. You know, what does that look like? What type of development, whether it be personal or professional, do you want in your career?
You know, I tell people all the time that the environment matters, and so you want to be able to assess that environment. Especially right now, where a lot of individuals are getting ready to go back to work here in the next few months. Is that an environment you really want to go back into?
You know, I believe- one of my values is autonomy and control. So, I always tell people we want to talk about, especially when we’re in the mid to senior-level positions, you know, what type of autonomy do you work best in? And then the other part is leadership. You know, what type of leader do you want to be? And what type of leader do you work best with? So, there are some things that necessarily we really need to identify when we’re talking about, you know, what do I want versus what I don’t want in that next role.
How do you help your clients get clear about what they don’t want?
Yeah, we go through that assessment, and we look at like what are you currently doing today. What is it about what you’re doing today that you don’t like? And we really just do an inventory. It’s just like going through, you know, your cabinet, I like to call it, and taking out all those things that you don’t necessarily like to do. Some of those things may be expired. It’s like, you know what, yeah, I was fine doing this, you know, at a certain point in my career, and now that I’m looking to level up, I want to do more of this. Maybe you want to lead more, and you want to find that opportunity that really does allow you to do those things and allow you to really bring value to the organization. Because when you apply for jobs you don’t want, you’re doing yourself a disservice, but you’re also doing the company a disservice by not really reaching your full potential.
You mentioned a moment ago the importance of values, and I know that one of the steps you recommend to your clients to avoid applying for jobs you don’t want is to get clear about your values. Tell us more about that. What do you mean? And why is it important?
So, I think that a lot of times, especially now, I think, in the climate that we’re in, more now than ever before, people are really starting to understand and appreciate, you know, what it is that they truly value, add a lot of times. For example, a lot of people value time more than anything. So again, we talk about going back into the office and having an hour’s commute. People value their time.
So, you know, if time is of value to you, you know, applying for a job that requires for you to commute an hour to two hours every day is something that you may not want, you know, a company you may not want to work for.
You know, if diversity is a value of yours and you want to work for a company that really values diversity, then again, we want to go beyond what the website says and what the mission and their vision says. What we really want to do is deep dive into the culture of the company and really make sure that when they say that they, you know, that value, that diversity is a value of theirs, that it’s just not, you know, a logo written on the wall. That they really, really truly believe it.
So, you know, there are certain things that we really go through. Again, we go through an inventory list of like, you know, what is important to you. What do you value? And really make sure that that next role that you’re looking for can really identify what your values are and you’ve identified companies that align with what you have identified, and we have to get clear into that alignment. Because when you apply for positions or you land roles that are outside of what you are aligned for and with, then you find yourself back in the job market sooner rather than later.
You mentioned time and commuting. What are other examples of values that are commonly important to the clients you work with?
Family is very important. You know, again, it goes back to time, you know, if you say that family is very important, and your job is requiring you to work sixty, seventy, eighty hours a week, you know, you’re not really, again, you’re out of alignment with, you know, those values.
We try to, you know, again, you know, some people may say that money is a value, and we don’t want to focus on, you know, money being a value. Because if you focus on the other things, money will come. But you do want to make sure that the company does value you as an employee and that your salary does match that value that you bring to the organization. So we don’t want to remiss that, but we also want to make sure that, you know, we’re not listing money as, you know, our top value because we know that that will come later when we make sure that we are identifying the right companies and their values.
I know another way you help your clients avoid applying for jobs they don’t want is to do research, in fact, lots and lots of research. What kind of homework do you recommend to your clients so they can get clear about what they want and stop applying for things they don’t want?
Absolutely, so, I take my clients through a three “I” approach, and the first “I” is identify. The second “I,” which is what you’re talking about and that is to investigate, and like a lot of people, before they come to me, what I’ve seen them do, is they go to websites, and they look at the company, and they’ll Google a few things. But a lot of times, what I don’t see a lot of individuals doing is really having those conversations with people who are either in the organization or who were previously employed with the organization.
And so what a lot of people do again, we have a three “I” approach – identify, investigate, and implement. What a lot of people do is they skip the investigation part, and they go from identifying a role to implementing, and what I mean by implement is identifying and then they’re applying. And so, they’re not doing that investigating, and when you miss out on investigating, you end up with companies that you’re like, I didn’t know this about them, and this does not align with who I am, and I need to start the job search again.
So, we really want to make sure that we are having, you know, conversations with individuals, again, who have been in the position, whether they are in that position before, maybe they’re no longer there, but they were in that position previously. Because you really want to understand more about the position than what you read in a job description because a job description is really just like surface level, and we want to make sure that we do a deep dive and really get intimate about what the job expectations are and just having those conversations because, again, you don’t know what you don’t know. And so, having those conversations with those people really is going to help you identify and really get confident in that you’re making the right decision before you even apply.
So you’ve done the first two steps, you’ve identified the position you want, now you’re in investigation, your second I, and you want to reach out to those people, but you don’t know anyone inside the companies that interest you. What’s your best advice for how to connect with somebody who might just be a name on a LinkedIn profile or in an alumni directory or on a website staffing list?
So, that’s what we want to do. We want to find out, I mean, this is where LinkedIn can be very helpful. We want to do that research. Like we may have people in our network who work for some of those companies, but again we don’t know. So, we need to first go back a little bit. We need to identify a list of those companies that we’re interested in.
Now, once we’ve identified that, again, we want to check with our alumni associations, professional organizations that you may be involved in, your current network. I mean, a lot of people miss out on their current network and say that they don’t want people to know that they’re job searching, or they’re just so general in their messaging with their network that they miss out on opportunities. Because maybe you don’t know them, just like on LinkedIn. Maybe they’re a second or third connection, but we don’t know that because we miss out on the opportunities to really tell people that we’re looking.
And I think that there is a way in messaging, even on LinkedIn, that we can really start to use LinkedIn in a way that we’re not, you know, spamming people’s inboxes with messaging, but there is a way to really communicate and connect with those individuals and start to have intentful conversations with people who may, again, may be in the role, may be previously in the role, maybe they work for the organization. But you want to have those conversations with those people and really get to know what I call, you know, informational interviews, and so, you’re not going in, you know, looking for a referral or reference at anything of that nature. You’re really just getting to know more about them and having those intentful conversations.
Well, terrific. It’s been a great conversation, Ebony. Now, tell us what’s next for you?
By the time this airs, the doors to Career Clarity Accelerator will be open. It is a twelve-week program for mid to senior-level corporate professionals who are looking to land their next role. They don’t want just any role. They want the next right role in a short period of time, and so, the doors for that will be opening very soon.
I know listeners can learn more about that program as well as your other services by visiting your website that’s nextlevelcareer.co and I know you also invite listeners to connect with you on LinkedIn, and as always, I hope they’ll mention that they heard you on the show.
Now, Ebony, given all the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about why you need to stop applying for jobs you don’t want and what to do instead?
The one thing I want people to just remember is that, while applying for jobs that you may not necessarily want, you can end up with salaries that you may not necessarily want, and while it may be something that you’re really looking to move fast, and jump into that next role, is to first take a step back. Do that assessment, and identify the correct next step.
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Next week, our guest will be Andrea Koppel.
She’s the founder and CEO of the College2Career Academy and the host of the Time4Coffee podcast.
Your job search gets easier and shorter when you know what work most excites you and why.
Join us next Wednesday when Andrea Koppel and I talk about how to find your passion and purpose in life.
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This is Mac Prichard. See you next week.