Deputy Chief Steve Prziborowski

6 ways to stall your firefighter job search

In today’s Sunday paper, I noticed a timely article titled “6 ways to stall your job search,” by Larry Buhl, and I wanted to share it since 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 hometown. There are many different forms of media to stay abreast of current events, and I encourage you to not rely on form of media as it may be biased, inaccurate, and/or incomplete.

Here are the 6 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 2 or 3 hour radius (if you can’t find many, expand your search) to practice your testing skills and to expose yourself to the process to find out your strengths and weaknesses. Once you find yourself continuously getting Fire Chief’s interviews and background investigations, then you can start narrowing down your search.

2. Jumping to conclusions. Too many candidates give up after only a few tests and then do the blame game for not getting hired. I’ve heard it all, with fingers being pointed at others for them not being hired, when in fact they should have looked in the mirror as to 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 picky or choosy 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 an opportunity of a life time.

4. Being inflexible. Especially today, it is critical to be flexible during your job search and when you are actually hired. Terms 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 phrase “and duties as required?” Those duties will only increase and be 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 to ultimately 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 that 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 negative or pessimistic.

No one can argue 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 personal 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 to not get depressed, not get bitter, and not get complacent. Your job in order to get a job is to remain on top of your game and to not give up. Anything worth having in life takes a lot of time, effort and energy to obtain and then to maintain. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it!

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