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Five characteristics that define those who will be most effective at finding a job

By Myrna Kesselman

As a career counselor with more than twelve years of experience working with job seekers of all ages, I’ve recognized some individual characteristics that signal potential success. I’ve outlined them here:

  1.  Clear focus – These job seekers know exactly what kind of jobs they are looking for and are clear how their skills and experience match that job.
    Meanwhile, if they are changing careers, they’ve talked with people in their new field to get ideas how to prepare. They’ve also made sure there are opportunities in this new field for people with their skill set. Preparation might include taking courses to pick up knowledge and new skills.
    Bottom line: they have done their homework and had taken the steps needed to move into a new professional field.
  2. Willing to Network – In today’s job market, the willingness to network is essential. I’ve heard many job seekers say they’re afraid to network or don’t know how. And then they allow this reluctance to stop them from making an effort to network.
    It’s the professionals who say those words, but push through and face their fears, who find success. As with learning any new skill, networking requires practice, and the more you practice the easier it gets. These job seekers go to networking group events, professional organization meetings, and job fairs in order to network. They find contacts through people they worked with years ago, or through LinkedIn, and gather their courage to call to set up meetings.
    I’ve seen several job seekers land a job just this way.
  3. Ask for Help – These job seekers know how isolating it is to go it alone. They connect with other job seekers (or career counselors) to find direction and support throughout the job-seeking process. The old adage applies, “Two (or more) heads are better than one.”
    Nobody understands better than people going through the same process how to encourage and support a job seeker.
  4. Listen and Use Advice – Whether job seekers get advice from people working in the field, from other job seekers, or from a career counselor, they listen and use the advice they’ve been offered. They also aren’t afraid to alter their overall job-seeking approach, or change their resume, if what they were doing has not worked.
    I have observed that job seekers who follow the suggestions of career counselors are the ones who more quickly land a job.
    I recall one woman who didn’t have interview clothes to wear for a hospital administrator position, and balked when I told her she needed an outfit to look the part of an employee. She reluctantly bought an outfit and asked for my approval of how she looked. After three interviews, which I helped her prepare for, she called me to say, “I did everything you suggested and I got the job!”
  5. Perseverance – These job seekers have the attitude that after each rejection they are closer to the job they will land! Yes, it’s discouraging not to get hired after considerable effort, but they don’t give up. They evaluate what they did well, and how they can improve, and they continue on.
    One high-level marketing director sent me an email saying, “Tell everyone that it took me 22 months and 70 interviews to land my dream job.”


Landing a job today is not easy. It takes courage and willingness to act on good suggestions, even if these ideas require you to step out of your comfort zone. One way to push forward is to join a job-search group that provides structure and support to take all necessary steps.

Landing a job is a challenge that becomes much easier when you do it with others.


Myrna Kesselman is a private career counselor in Belmont. She co-facilitates a 5-week job search success team three times a year. For information about the start date of the next sessions, contact her at 617 484 3101.

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