From What I Need to What I Can Do For You.

The job market is not as scary as it seems if you’re willing to change your approach.

The easy approach is scouring job boards with a mindset that “I need an job” and blasting out resumes with generic cover letters. The mindset behind this usually overemphasizes the need.

But – this enhances the difficulty level of finding a job. Businesses don’t give two shits about your needs as an applicant. That’s harsh. But it’s true. They can’t afford to hire, let alone pay people on the basis of needs.

Instead of focusing on your needs – when applying, you should focus on how you can help a business meet its needs. How you can bring value to the enterprise.

Behind every business is a person or group of people. They all have needs, too. They all have families. They all have bills to pay. But if the business doesn’t make money, none of that matters.

So businesses look for ways to maximize the value of their time and dollars. This is especially true when it comes to hiring. Evaluating a candidate is often an evaluation of opportunity costs. In other words, everything a business says yes to means several things it says no to.

Consider a simple scenario:

A business needs help with bookkeeping, office management, and marketing. It has a $50k annual budget for these.

Sally has a family and a high rent. She needs to make at least $50k per year, but she has 10 years experience in a narrow range of skills. She also isn’t interested in learning new things. If the business hires Sally for $50k and she can only do bookkeeping and manage the office, it still needs someone to assist with marketing.

April is fresh out of college. Somehow she managed to walk out without debt. She doesn’t need a lot to live on and at this phase in her career she values experience more than money. She’s got some basic skills and an eagerness to learn. If the business hires April for $35k and she can take on some of the marketing and is willing to manage the office, then it still has $15k in the budget to go out and find bookkeeping help.

This isn’t meant to be a perfect thought experiment. It’s intended to paint a picture of the choices business face when they hire – and contrast the difference between an applicant’s needs and an applicant’s ability and willingness to create value.

It should be obvious that hiring the younger, eager, less expensive candidate and finding a creative solution for the other tasks is a better decision for the business.

It’s often easy on the job market to overlook that businesses are made up of people. It’s also easy to put too much emphasis on your immediate circumstances.

Fight the impulse. Instead, find a way to focus on the needs of the business.