It can be tempting to think that we are the reason we got hired (or rejected). But I think there are many other dynamics often at play in our journey to getting hired.
After working for over 30 different companies over many years (and failed many other job applications), I've seen that there are many different reasons that you can get hired or get rejected.
I think it can be an interesting thought experiment to go through some of those reasons.
As humans we often take things personally. We think that whether we got hired was all down to us and our own actions. That it's a reflection on ourselves personally. I've found that this often isn't the case. Who you are and what you do is a factor. But I think there are other factors that, together, play a much bigger role in determining whether you get the job or not.
Based on my own experience over the years, I thought I'd share a few of the reasons that I believe people get hired:
- Supply and demand of skills For example, if you're a Java developer and the job market is tight for those developers - i.e. there aren't many people in your area who can do Java development - then you're going go be highly saught after. And if clients are deperate enough, they may hire you just because you hava that essential Java skill, even if you don't necesarily have all the other skills they need.
- Geography Physically where you are located can also be a big factor. We might not notice that we are located in some part of the world, near one city or another. But location can have a lot to do with how many jobs are in your area and how many people are being hired.
- Economy The economy is a big factor. Depending on how the economy is doing in your region, country or even the world, there may be more or less demand for your skills. This can be cyclical - as we've seen with the late 90s-2000s dot-com boom and bust, the 2008 Global Financial Crisis and numerous other cycles affecting the world or various parts of it.
- Industry As the economy goes through cycles, so can a particular industry. An industry may go through a period of growth or transformation, so all the companies compete with eachother over who can move the quickest, and this creates demand for new jobs. For example, digital and agile transformations have been occurring in government and the financial sector of the Australian and UK economy over the past few years, creating growth in job opportunities. On the other hand, one or more industries may also downsize and cut jobs, as that industry fades into irrelevance, gets replaces, gets outsourced/offshored or encounters some other damper on growth. An example of this might be the decline of the newspaper business over the 2000s and 2010s.
- Seasonal Funnily enough seasons do still seem to matter! There are times of the year when people are more likely to take a break and go on holidays, e.g. Chrismas, versus other times when they're more likely to be working. Hiring activity may be greater when the weather is warm and lesser when it's cold. It's well known in Sydney that that job market tends to slow down around the end of the year and beginning of the next year, but picks up around the early to middle part of the year.
- Reputational The last point is reputational. A company or industry may have a reputation as being 'sought-after', which causes many applicants to flood the job market, making it tough for you to get in. But equally so, a company or industry can develop a reputation as being 'unwanted'. Maybe people think it's slowing down, there's less opportunity there, it's hard work for little pay or some other reason. But the reality might be the exact opposite! It might actually be a really good 'hidden gem', which no one else knows about!
Why do I bring up these reasons or factors for being hired? Well it's simple: I think by understanding these factors, you can better position yourself in the job market to score your dream job!
See, you might not be the most crash-hot super-senior Python engineer. You might not have a degree from a prestigious university or decades of experience or successful projects under your belt. But the job market doesn't care about that...
If there is a heightened demand and lowered supply of a particular skill, and you are there in the right place at the right time, you can take advantage of that opportunity to score yourself that dream job!
By looking at these factors and matching them up with your plans, you can set yourself up to cash in on job opportunities that wouldn't normally be available to you, due to high competition.
Once you've taken one of those opportunities, you can use it to pivot to the next one. So you take advantage of a temporary peak in demand to get yourself into an entry-level Python developer role. Then you can transition or 'pivot' into your next role, which might be a more senior Python developer role or maybe something else that you didn't even imagine you'd be doing!
So the summary here is – think about the reasons why you get a job and use them to discover hidden areas of the job market where there is high demand and low supply. Position yourself in those areas, like a ocean trawler with a net, and catch a boat load of fish!