Matt Perryman

Why it never makes sense to line up for a job

By Matt Perryman

The way most people go about finding jobs frankly baffles me.

They look through job listings, apply through a list of requirements and conditions as obscure as Byzantine theology, and then cross their fingers and hope real hard, saying “pick me pick me pick me!”

Competing for attention with tens, hundreds, or even thousands of applicants is playing Lotto.

When I used the Upwork for freelance work in years past, I saw this all the time. One job, 400 applications. The best-qualified job-getter will find it hard to stand out due to the sheer noise.

Whenever I post a job there, it’s the same thing from the other side of the hiring table. Two hundred responses, I make it through 20 — who didn’t read the job and aren’t qualified — before I hang it up.

Nobody wins in the contest to be picked.

It’s an all around sorry process for the job-posters and the job-seekers.

I wonder why they all keep doing it, but then, I remember that humans are largely unthinking animals ruled by habit and socially accepted behaviors.

The fundamental problem is in the power dynamic. There’s one tollbooth and one ticket for a line of 1000 cars. Asking to get picked is unlikely to produce a win for either side.

The smarter move is to step back from the tollbooth and reconsider the situation.

Reverse and reframe the problem. Everybody wants to get the goods out of the tollbooth. Few ask, what does the guy in the tollbooth want?

Getting in line and raising your hand makes you like everyone else waiting for permission.

Bring him a nice lunch with a free gift for his son and you might just skip the line.

Matt Perryman

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