Job Search Advice: Never Say "I'm Open To Anything"

Job seekers may have a tendency to believe that being open to anything will help them with getting hired. After all, shouldn’t you cast a wide net to improve your chances of finding a job and isn’t it a good thing to show that you are flexible and open-minded?

There are two major problems with this “I’m open to anything” approach.

First of all, you’re actually not. Once I start talking to candidates who say they’re open to anything, there are usually a number of things they are not open to: long hours or lack of flexibility, lower than expected compensation, location, nature of the responsibilities, etc. So, you end up wasting your time applying for a job you won’t take or know you won’t like even if you did.

Secondly, you are a weaker candidate. Here’s why: From the employer or hiring manager’s perspective it’s a way of conveying you haven’t done your homework. You come across as simply hoping an opportunity presents itself so you can say yes or no, rather than proactively identifying and pursuing jobs that are a good fit for your skill set.  You will also have a hard time competing with people who are able to demonstrate both a strong interest and fit for that particular job.

So what can you do if you are a job seeker, but not sure of what your job targets are? Try these simple solutions:

  1. Invest the time in learning what jobs and companies you would be a good fit for. Start with companies in industries you have an interest in. They will usually have a page dedicated to “careers” where you can learn a lot about the company, career paths and their culture.
  2. Find out about trends in the industry of interest, key issues or problems the companies are trying to solve.  Would your skill set or background be helpful to the company and their goals?
  3. Another place to learn more about specific jobs is job boards. I always encourage job seekers to browse job boards to research their job targets. They give you a sense as to who is hiring, what positions are open and what types of candidates they are looking for.
  4. Be sure to network with people who are in jobs that interest you so you can get a firsthand understanding of what it’s like to be in their profession. Can you envision yourself pursuing the type of career path they describe? Again, not only do you want to improve your chances of getting hired by knowing more about your job targets, you also want to ensure you’re taking on a job that you will enjoy and do well in.

Hiring managers want to know that you have done the due diligence and know what you are getting into. They want to see that you are motivated and interested in that specific job! They want to hear from people who know what they are good at and what they can contribute.

Don’t be mistaken, it is important to explore different job targets with an open mind and look into a range of different things, but when you are ready to engage a recruiter or hiring manager, take it seriously. Don’t make the mistake of presenting yourself as “open to anything.” Instead, prepare yourself with knowledge and understanding of the job at hand so you get hired.