In a recent newspaper article, I noticed a piece titled “6 ways to stall your job search” by Larry Buhl, and I wanted to share it because I think it really provides a lot of guidance for future firefighters.
Now before we go any further, I’ve heard more and more people say they don’t read the daily newspaper because they don’t have time or they don’t think it’s relevant. I believe it’s critical for fire service professionals to be in tune with what is going on in the world as well as in their own hometowns. There are many different forms of media you can use to stay abreast of current events, and I encourage you not to rely on one form of media as it may be biased, inaccurate and/or incomplete.
Here are the six ways to stall your job search:
1. Being passive. Don't wait for the job to come to you; it won’t. You need to be proactive, following possible leads, taking advantage of every testing opportunity you can find within a two- or three-hour radius (if you can’t find many, expand your search) to practice your testing skills, expose yourself to the process and find out your strengths and weaknesses. Once you find yourself continuously getting fire chiefs' interviews and background investigations, then you can start narrowing your search.
2. Jumping to conclusions. Too many candidates give up after only a few tests and then play the blame game for not getting hired. I’ve heard it all, with job seekers pointing their fingers at others for not hiring them, when in fact they should have looked in the mirror to find out why they were not getting hired.
3. Holding out for the perfect job. There is no perfect job, and you can’t be picky or choosy. Remember, you won’t pick your perfect department; it will pick you. Being too selective and not taking every test you qualify for will drastically reduce your chances of becoming a firefighter. I’ve heard candidates say, “I won’t work there.” Excuse me? If you want to be a firefighter bad enough, you’ll work anywhere for the opportunity. Being a firefighter is not an entitlement or a right; it is the opportunity of a lifetime.
4. Being inflexible. Especially today, it is critical to be flexible during your job search and when you are actually hired. Phrases such as “that is not my job,” “I don’t want to do that” and “I don’t want to work for that department” should not come out of your mouth if you want to be a successful firefighter. Remember the bit in the ad that said, “and duties as required?” Those duties will only increase and become more varied as time goes on -- and that’s OK. It beats being unemployed, and you’re still working in the best profession you can work in!
5. Making it all about you. Too many candidates come into department tests asking what the department can do for them. Instead they should be offering up what they can do for the department to make it a better place and ultimately to leave it better than they found it upon their departure.
6. Having a cynical and negative attitude. Every day we wake up, we can choose to be positive or negative. Be the one who thinks the glass is half-full as opposed to half-empty, and it may put you in a better position. Plus, nobody likes to be around people who are always pessimistic.
No one can argue with the fact that we are currently in a challenging economic time; however, this isn’t the first time we have experienced a downturn in the economy, and it surely won’t be the last.
While it is true many fire departments are not hiring and some may be laying off personnel or freezing or eliminating open positions, there are still some departments hiring to fill positions lost by retirements or other forms of separation. If nothing else, at some point the economy will get better and there will be more jobs.
Your challenge as a candidate is not to get depressed, not to get bitter, and not to get complacent. Your job -- in order to get a job -- is to remain on top of your game and not to give up. Anything worth having in life takes a lot of time, effort and energy to obtain and then to maintain. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it!