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Is your Jobseeker Fixated on Unrealistic Job Roles? 4 Tips so you Can Help Them

Updated: Nov 29, 2022

When I was working as an employment practitioner, I had several job seekers who fit into one or more of the following categories when it came to resisting employment.

  1. Not very motivated to work.

  2. Had lost all confidence from constant rejection.

  3. Perceived that they were better off staying on welfare.

  4. Anxious about being in employment.

  5. Fixated on unrealistic job roles.

Now number 5 was very common. I remember one job seeker in particular. This was when I was working in welfare to work in the UK. This woman *Sarah had been out of work for about 4 years. Previously she was a HR manager of a large corporation but lost her job due to a drink driving incident. For 4 years she was getting a lot of knock backs. You can say throughout that time also became depressed and more dependent on alcohol. Also, unfortunately during that time, her marriage broke down. However, through therapy and various forms of external interventions, she eventually became job ready. But with the growing gap on her resume, combined with a criminal record, she was still facing rejection. And the problem was that Sarah was resistant to taking on a lower paying job as she was adamant that she won’t work for below a specific figure. Eventually, Sarah lowered her resistance and took a role at a medium sized company (at much lower pay) as a learning administrator. This role did not include a background check and because it was a part of the HR division, had a clear career path into HR assistant and eventually HR manager opportunities.

Here are a few things that I was able to do to help many job seekers like Sarah open themselves up for work opportunities no matter what type of resistance they had.

1. Built a connection

It’s common knowledge that rapport is a critical element of influence. So, from the first meeting I built a connection with Sarah. I treated her as an equal, showed respect and recognised all of her achievements and experience. She wanted someone to listen to her, so I attentively made her feel heard about her wants, desires, complaints, and frustrations. I empathised with her story. Sarah trusted my advice and guidance. However, I also established the expectations and her obligations based on the job seeker contractual agreement.

2. Understand what motivates them

Early on, I understood what motivated Sarah. It was about having the security that she had previously. But most importantly, been a good role model for her 12-year-old daughter. She wanted to build again, and owning her own home was important to her. Also, another thing that motivated her was not having to be at the mercy of a landlord. At the time she was living in a tiny studio in a neighbourhood that had a high crime rate. So, we constantly spoke about her goals for the future that had nothing to do with work, but everything to do with the life she envisioned. I got her to visualise a compelling future of how life would be when she had her own home again. A future where she felt accomplished, secure, and safe.

3. Ask questions and listen

You are more likely to influence people when they are talking. Unless you’re teaching a person something or advising them on an issue that you have expertise in, they should be doing at least 70% of the talking. When I wanted to help Sarah set goals or even take action, I rarely advised her, but took her on a thinking journey. I asked her coaching questions so she can be the one who creates her own insights and decides what actions she was going to take. I not only asked her about what she wanted, but why she wanted something and her plan to get there.

4. Create a backwards career plan

Many times, when a job seeker does agree to take on a plan B job, they have to be able to see that there will be some type of career progression. So, help them set a plan which includes their ultimate goal, and work backwards in how that path will lead to their dream job. For example, when working with Sarah we established that working in the HR department as a learning administrator will help her get her foot in the door, build relationships, close the growing gap on her CV and ultimately lead to a HR manager role. Also, one more thing worth mentioning, sharing stories of other people who went through a similar situation, but now had their dream job is also helpful.


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