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Job hunting: better to have skills or self belief?

Job hunting: better to have skills or self belief?

Could Sarah Palin be president? Edward Andrew looks at the power of self-belief in job hunting.

Could Sarah Palin be president? Edward Andrew looks at the power of self-belief in job hunting.

Welcome Sarah Palin, the President of the USA and leader of the free world.  That has to be pretty much the ultimate job title and think of the power that goes with that.  It is certainly not the best paid job by any stretch of the imagination and I bet half of the people walking into Macquarie Bank or Goldman Sachs every morning earn more. President Obama makes about US$400,000 per annum plus some pretty unbeatable benefits, including Airforce One.

Now I mention Sarah Palin because the world’s press has been pretty unkind to her and it seems a bit of a running joke that the former Governor of Alaska could become arguably the most powerful person on the planet in 2012. Even though she has had some of the best approval ratings of any Governor in 2009, her personal life has been her Achilles heel. Personally, I think that she is a bit of a character and good luck to her for bringing some life and spark to Presidential and Vice- Presidential campaigns.

So how does her quest for the top job apply to the rest of us? She must have huge self belief and a very strong conviction in her ability to succeed against enormous odds.  Would she be able to run for the title without any talent? I suppose arguably so, in that for those of you a little older may remember the billionaire oil baron Ross Perot running in 1992 and 1996, who as far I can remember, did not have much to offer apart from cash.  

Let’s not be foolish about this. If you are applying for a job where you have absolutely no skills required (ok, sorry I forgot about George W Bush), then in normal circumstances you will never ever be invited for interview.  

So why persist in making applications for jobs which will always fail?  When I was in my early twenties (also a time of economic gloom) we all used to think and be told that if you sent your CV off knowing that you were wrong for the role then just possibly someone may see your potential for something else. Pure unadulterated fantasy. If you know someone who this worked for then great, but it is a one in a million and HR managers and recruiters alike just get irritated by you.  End result is your CV in the bin.

I heard somewhere that most skilled recruiters spend no more than 8 seconds on a cv, I think it could be faster at times. If they do not see anything of interest or relevance on page one, then forget it.

So self belief and confidence is very important, but in reality this is demonstrated best during the interview process.  Even with the best will in the world someone with only a school certificate stacking shelves is never going to be interviewed for a job as an accountant. When applying for jobs, even if you appear to fit the selection criteria, do your research first.  There may well a job suitable for you but if you send an irrelevant CV your card will have been marked already.  

Edward Andrew is the CEO of twosteps (

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