Filtering: The Enemy of Career Progress

In my practice, I find myself working most often with people who have great passion, talent and commitment, but have stalled in their career tracks┬ábecause of self-limiting beliefs, and because of what I describe as faulty approaches to “filtering.” People can have a few kinds of faulty career filters that get them stuck in their tracks. The first faulty kind is the filter that screens too many thing out, and the second is the one that lets too many things in. Both can leave you dead in the water. The key, I think, is to fine-tune your filtering process, so you can let enough options pass through, without having too many random options that lead you down blind alleys, toward disappointment and eventually, despair.

The first kind of filter is caused by self-limiting beliefs. If you find yourself thinking or saying any of the following, you may be over-filtering.

  • I think I’d like the job, but I probably can’t do that.
  • There’s going to be so much competition for that job. They won’t consider me.
  • I’m sure there’s an inside candidate, so why bother applying?

The second kind of filtering really isn’t filtering at all. It’s what I call “shotgunning.” Basically, any option is seen as a good option. Instead of aiming for a particular target, you choose a general direction and apply for everything you see. This may result in interviews, but is less likely to result in jobs that are a good match.

The point of filtering something is to get to its purest possible state, leaving only the best parts in the final product. When it comes to career planning, the point is to filter out options that “muddy” the picture, and leave both you and your potential employer with a crystal clear view of your best qualities.

How, then, can you keep the right things in and the wrong things out of your career plan? By applying the right kinds of filters. The five I suggest you concentrate on are the same ones most recruiters will apply in considering a candidate: Education, Experience, Achievements, Motivation and Fit. In this series, we will explore the best ways to apply these filters toward your career planning and job search efforts.

How are you “filtering” opportunities into or out of your career plan? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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