Tales of The Entitled Job Seeker

We all know people like this.  We meet them at networking events and dinner parties. We listen to their stories and empathize with their unsuccessful job search efforts. So, we recommend them for job openings, or we carve out time to interview them, and sometimes we even give them job offers. But, inevitably, somewhere during the process, the truth reveals itself. They are not victims of a tough job market.  They are bright, capable, smart, marketable candidates – who are actually victims of themselves, held hostage by their own unrealistic expectations and outrageous demands of the workplace.

As a recruiter and career coach, I see this all too often.  People getting in the way of their own potential and career success because of what they “think” they should be getting from employers.

The unemployed job seeker to whom I was introduced by a friend a few months ago. The guy with excellent experience, an MBA and a solid resume who has also turned down three great job offers with top companies because he can’t (read: won’t) accept anything less than a 30% increase from his last job. Yes- the job that he was laid off from… almost two years ago.

The employed job seeker who sought me out to discuss a search that I advertised last fall, but then spent our whole meeting telling me how happy, challenged and well-compensated she was at her current company. But, then admitted that she actually hunted me down because she was out for her boss’s job, and was hoping I could introduce her to a role that would pay her $75K-$100K more in base salary, with a title promotion, and preferably a four-day work week with a flexible telecommuting schedule. Not to mention an additional week of PTO, AND a robust signing bonus, hopefully giving her the leverage she needed to ultimately secure a huge internal promotion at her current company – as she has a great relationship with her CEO and she was sure she was invaluable and irreplaceable.

And last, but not least, our future leaders.  The “this-is-my-first-job- in-the-real- world” job seekers. The recent grads that I speak with daily who are rejecting job offers because they fear they won’t have enough work-life balance; or who have their parents reach out to me on their behalf to follow-up on resume submissions or to help them negotiate their job offers; or who pull themselves from interview processes because they don’t want to do tactical work, as they feel that they are already prepared to create top line strategies and manage teams; and who believe that they deserve higher salaries in order to cover their rents, bills, school loans AND weekend spending habits.

I share these (true, not exaggerated) examples in hopes of bringing humility, introspection, reality and perspective back to the job search process. While we are much more efficient and sophisticated than generations past, some things still remain the same.  You don’t just start at the top from nothing. Everyone has a ladder to climb. And, entering into a job search with visions of unjustified increases, a laundry list of expected fringe benefits, or underlying motives of leverage will likely only leave you feeling disappointed in your efforts to advance. Not to mention the bridges that can be burned with hiring managers, HR managers, recruiters and the people in your networks who are trying to help during the process.

Frankly speaking, nothing great comes without sacrifice. Set your goals and stay true to them, but be realistic about your deal-breakers.  Lean in, but don’t fall on your face.  Your ideal job may not initially appear with all of the bells and whistles on your spreadsheet, but it might just put you on the path to achieving your larger career dreams.

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312-725-8544   I  Lisa@LBFStrategies.com