'Give Me a Chance' Will Give You No Chance


There aren't many attitudes that can truly poison your entry-level job search. But here's one that can -- and does -- all the time: "If someone would just give me a chance..."

Have you ever slipped into thinking something like this?

I don't have a lot of experience, but I don't understand how I'm supposed to get experience without first having a job in my field. Why don't employers understand this? I know I could do lots of jobs if someone would just give me a chance.

If you've felt this way at least once, you're not alone. But if you let yourself continue feeling this way -- even though it's understandable -- you'll all but doom your job search. Why? Employers aren't in business to give chances, or anything else. They're in business to accomplish something, which means getting -- not giving -- something, whether they are selling a product or service, or even selling an idea or cause.

As author Charlie Drozdyk says in his book Jobs That Don't Suck: "A job is a product of somebody's hard work and inability to do everything on their own. For example, say Jill and Jane start a design company out of their living room. They max out their credit cards and eat peanut butter sandwiches for two years before they start making money. Their hard work pays off, and now they have more clients and more work than they can handle on their own. They take a look at their books and decide they can just afford to hire somebody to take up the extra load of work... This is what a job is ... they're dipping into their profits to give you a job."

In other words, an employer isn't looking to give you anything if he's considering you for a job. Rather, that employer is looking to buy something from you -- your skills, motivation and future accomplishments -- in exchange for your salary and benefits like health insurance and retirement contributions.

As you search for an entry-level job or pursue an internship or co-op position, keep reminding yourself that your key problem in landing a job is a marketing problem, not a charitable giving problem.

Companies and organizations give money and energy to charities fairly frequently, expecting nothing in return except, perhaps, some positive publicity. But companies and organizations don't, and won't, give chances to anyone, no matter how much you and other job seekers might think they should. From the employer's point of view, which is the one that matters most, your role as a job seeker is to offer something, not ask for something.

So drop "give me a chance" from your job search psyche. Replace it with "here's what I have to offer you." It's a transformation that probably won't be easy. But if you can pull it off, you'll soon receive positive responses from employers who will appreciate and gravitate towards your offers, rather than your competitors' requests.

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