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Job Hunting, Jobseekers' Perspective

What Defines a Motivated Job Seeker?


A customer comes in to my office and says he has attended all my classes, spoken to several other counselors, and gone to several application information sessions and hiring events, but hasn’t gotten any interviews. When I ask him to target his resume or contact potential employers, I get various excuses why he can’t—or won’t.

A client with a very diverse work history needs help finding a job. She has worked many jobs in the last 10 years, nothing longer than 4 or 5 months. When I gave her several potential job opportunities in her field of interest, she says none of them are right for her for one reason or another—one was too far away; another never contacted her after she emailed them her resume. When I finally asked her what she wanted to do, she admitted she really doesn’t know what she wants.

I meet with and assist job seekers of all shapes and sizes, but one thing they have in common is that they are long-term job seekers. One commonality I am finding among many of these people is a lack of motivation—whether caused by discouragement, disinterest or some other source I haven’t pinned down yet. I am discovering that while this is still a bad economy and an employer’s market, those people getting jobs are still the ones who have motivation sufficient to doing what needs to be done.

In my area, not only is unemployment high but the agency charged with helping the unemployed return to work is being downsized due to budget shortfalls. As we are trimmed ever leaner, our focus is to put our efforts where they will not be wasted—helping the MOTIVATED job seeker. This makes me even more concerned about those who make excuses instead of progress.

What defines a job seeker?

That’s a question we in our own office are trying to identify.

I met a woman a few months back who had an incredible skill set—not only did she have customer service and extensive office skills, a background in human services and successful grant writing experience, but she was also bilingual. There was no reason that I could see why she wasn’t back to work—except that she didn’t have the right tools.

I met with her one day and was amazed at her passion and determination. When I showed her how to target her resume and write an effective cover letter, I had her finished product in my inbox within 24 hours. When I referred her to different pertinent workshops, she was always there, participating fully. I was able to fully and confidently refer her to a number of positions. As soon as she got the tools she needed, she was off and running—and back to work in just a few weeks. I wish they were all that determined.

I’m not saying the rate of unemployment is due to the motivation of the job seeker but I will say this: those who have that passion and determination, and show it to the employer, have a far better chance of getting an employer’s attention and approval than one who puts only the requisite effort into job searching. There are those who apply for their three jobs a week to fill their Unemployment requirements, and little more. They get out of the process what they put in—very little. But if they figure out a way to re-energize their job search and keep the passion alive, the job seeker’s energy shows. Employers like that.


About kimberlyjmyers

I am a workforce development professional in Washington State. I have ten years experience working with dislocated workers, vocationally impaired, and people with disabilities on many levels and backgrounds from offenders to non-English speaking refugees from around the world. The One thing the clients I have worked with all had in common: there was some barrier to employment, and I work diligently every day to identify, address and remove those barriers.


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