Are you playing it safe in your job search?

If yes, consider the rule of thirds to help you decide when to apply for that new job.

Photo: possessed photography on Unsplash

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

– Neale Donald Walsch, American author, actor, screenwriter and speaker

Do you only apply for a job when you are certain that you tick all of the boxes for education, skills, and experience? Have you been overcome with excitement at the sight of a job posting only to find that you’ve talked yourself out of applying for it by the end of the page?

Knowing that you meet all the qualifications for a specific job can be hard. What the heck does “qualified” even mean? After all, you’ve probably worked with a few folks who were far from qualified for their jobs. And if you are a self-identified perfectionist, you’re probably implementing too critical of a lens on what qualified or experienced even means. Consequently, you may never end up applying for jobs you could enjoy and do well. Worse, you may end up applying for a job that is below your ability, slowing your desired progress, eroding your confidence, and wasting your time.

We often assume stress and burnout only occur when we are overwhelmed, and our resources are overdrawn. But stress and burnout can also occur when we are under engaged, bored, or frustrated that we are not doing something “better.” If you are applying for jobs when you can easily do everything listed, there is a good chance boredom and stagnation are waiting for you six months into that job. What would happen if you ended up staying in that role for five years? Instead of having five years of experience, you may end up having the same year of experience five years in a row. If you continue this pattern throughout your career, you could find yourself chronologically identifying as a mid career professional but only boasting entry level or junior experience.

Are you playing it safe when it comes to applying for your next job? If so, consider the rule of thirds before you apply.

You can do a third of the job

Based on your previous experience and current skill set, this is the part of the job you can easily do. It’s great to start somewhere new and have some success building off your existing experience and skills.  Early wins can help to build your confidence and gather momentum for new challenges and learnings.

A third of the job will stretch you

You may not have much experience with this third of the job, but you do have related skills and experience to leverage. However, this part of the job will require additional learning, effort, and practice to develop proficiency and confidence. 

A third of the job is new

This part of the job will require you to learn new things and will likely take you out of your comfort zone. It might even scare the pants off you! But getting new experience can help further refine your career goals as you learn more about what you like and dislike.

People routinely underestimate their capacity for growth only to find themselves stagnating in routine and lack of challenge. You might even ask, “How common is it for candidates to get hired when they don’t have experience in all aspects of the job?” The answer is, “More often than you think.” Most listed job requirements are “nice to haves.” Resultingly, companies often fill positions with candidates who meet some, not all the requirements. Candidates who have demonstrated a positive attitude, adaptability, and a willingness to learn are often preferred over a 100% qualified jerk.

Lastly, if you still feel you can’t apply for a particular job, keep in mind that it’s the hiring manager’s job to tell you “no” - not yours. So, stop what-iffing and catastrophizing…use the rule of thirds and get busy applying. You may find you get a “yes” and achieve your goals faster than you would have if you waited to be 100% qualified.  

Do you have any tips or strategies you use to decide whether or not you will apply for a job?

Leave your thoughts below for the Career with a View crew.