Why You Attract the 'Wrong' Companies, Part Two: The Solution

Earlier this week, I outlined some of the reasons why talented job seekers often attract attention from the wrong kinds of companies. Today, I will focus on the solution to this problem.

Simply put, the solution is for your to be clear about what you want and what you can bring to the table. When you're on a job search, you need clear intentions and a desired outcome while still maintaining a sense of flexibility and openness toward the process.

I want to share a personal experience that, I feel, really paints a good picture of what this looks likes in practice:

The 3 Types of People

When I was first starting to grow my business, I took a part-time position as a leasing agent for a local property management company on the side. Every day, I would meet people looking to rent apartments, give them tours of our model apartments, and discuss the options we had to offer.

Over time, I found that everyone I came across could fit into one of three categories:

Person No. 1: This person didn't really have any clear idea of what they wanted.

Person No. 2: This person was rigidly particular when it came to everything they wanted – and equally as particular about everything they didn't want.

Person No. 3: This person had varying levels of clarity regarding their preferences and usually had a few non-negotiables, but the biggest distinction was they also possessed a measure of openness and flexibility throughout the process.

I would start my conversations with customers by asking them to share what was most important to them in their next apartment – e.g., an onsite gym, a washer/dryer in the unit, vaulted ceilings, etc. Then, I would see if we had any units available that filled their most important needs.

Person No. 1 was frustrating to work with. Despite my best efforts to help them more clearly understand what they wanted, they were rarely ever able to come to a decision. I found it fitting that they typically came to our property after having already spent months looking at other places. Generally, after I spoke with them and toured them around, they would want to "check out a couple other places" before making a decision. I would never hear back from them after that.

Person No. 2 was typically very motivated to find something, but they weren't willing to let go of their attachment to the perfect fantasy they had created in their mind. Assuming what we currently had available was a match for what they most wanted, I would make an effort to help them stay focused on that throughout the tour. Sometimes, though, they would get caught up on minor details that weren't really that important in the big picture.

For example, we might find a great match, but it would be on the third floor instead of the second. Throughout the tour, they would obsess over this extra flight of stairs, making it into a bigger and bigger problem in their mind.

These clients just could not find their "perfect fit." When they did lease a unit, they were often the most difficult tenants because they would frequently complain about the smallest things. Some of them would constantly ask about another unit's availability, convinced that moving into that new apartment would solve all their problems.

Person No. 3 was by far the most enjoyable to work with in both the short term and the long term. These people didn't always lease apartments with us, but they were always clear about what was most important to them. They were also able to share a few things that were firm non-negotiables.

What distinctly separated these people from person No. 2 was they made the conscious choices to weigh pros and cons and view the situation from a wider perspective. They wouldn't pretend to like things they didn't like, but they were able to keep their focus on what was most important. They had clear preferences, but their preferences were flexible and realistic.

These people were also willing to walk away if we couldn't find a good fit for them. Equally important – if not even more so – they would walk away gracefully and keep a positive attitude.

The most affirming observation I made was that this person was usually satisfied with their decision and remained a good tenant over the long term.

Look at the three types of people outlined above, and answer me this question: Which type are you when you're on the job hunt? If you can honestly admit that you're more of a No. 1 or No. 2, let me say that many of us have also been there at some point. Hopefully you can see why choosing to be more like person No. 3 is the ideal way to go here.

A Great Job Seeker Example to Follow

Finally, I want to share an example that specifically applies to searching for the right career opportunity. I believe it will be very helpful for many readers who are currently in this situation.

Out of the 40+ job candidates I've connected with during my past few months consulting at Recruiter.com, one in particular stands out for being easy to work with – and easy to find jobs for.

He is clear on what he wants: a vice president or senior vice president of marketing role, preferably in one of the desired industries that align with his work history. He currently lives in New York and would prefer to remain there, but he would also be open to hearing about other opportunities in the Northeast.

I told him that I was seeing more job openings in Atlanta, Georgia, than in any other locations and asked if he would want me to submit him for any of these openings. His reply was that if he reviewed the description of the position and it felt like a really good fit for him, he would be open to hearing more.

He is also clear that he is not interested in relocating to the West Coast and wants a position that is within his current salary range and congruent with the cost of living in other locations.

Can you see why this candidate is easy to work with and easy to find a great job for? And hopefully you can also see why a candidate like this is less likely to attract the "wrong" companies: He clearly communicates what he wants (and doesn't want), he leads with the role he is best at, and there is congruence between his preferences and his past work history.

The takeaway? It really is that simple to stop attracting the wrong companies and start attracting the right ones.

Scott Engler is the author of The Job Inner-View and Legends of the Recruiting and Career World. Read his latest, The Problem and the Solution, on his website.