May 30, 2009 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
American Idol, Fear Factor, The Swan. Whoever says that today’s popular television programming isn’t educational, hasn’t been watching reality TV. Job seekers can learn plenty from watching these shows and noting the striking similarity between the would-be star’s chase for fame, fortune, and success and their own job search. Case in point: American Idol.
Job seekers and Idol hunters begin the chase competing against legions of applicants, all varying in age, background, appearance, talent, discipline, goal focus, and character strength. Those who advance see themselves as winners, more motivated by competition than they are intimidated by unknown competitors.
Those who advance recognize the need for patience and forbearance as they experience starts and stops and seemingly endless periods of waiting just to learn who steps forward and who steps to the side.
The optimists are positive, assuming doors will open. The pragmatists are reasonable, assuming that doors open and doors close. Those who advance focus on their goal, practice their craft, develop their talent, and look for windows as well as doors. The pessimists don’t advance because they don’t participate. They assume they’re lost before they begin.
Those who remain in the hunt realize that feedback is part of the process and like it or not, they’re going to get it. Some is direct, some indirect. Some is helpful, some, dispiriting. Some they want, some they could live a happy lifetime never hearing again.
Those who advance request feedback. The unsuccessful, don’t. Successful job seekers invite constructive feedback throughout their careers, when there’s time and opportunity to change the big things, tweak the little things, and learn the difference between what’s important and what just looks like way. Those who advance seek feedback from people whose opinions are trusted by those the industry respects, who have influence, and are regarded as specialists in their field.
Those who advance are driven to succeed more than they are afraid to fail. They want to win more than they are afraid of winning.
Those who advance maintain a reserve account of energy, desire, and belief that they can make success happen, even when they have every right to be two quarts low in one and a half gallon low in the other two.
Those who advance maintain their balance when fortunes rise and fall. They realize and resist the temptation to soar on days when the news is good, and plummet on days when doors that were open, closed, without warning or reason. They temper their emotions and moderate their expectations of others.
Those who advance realize that they need support, encouragement, and a balanced perspective from a place and space outside themselves and their control. They understand the need to retreat from the din of the everyday to reflect, restore, and re-energize.
Those who advance consistently demonstrate personal optimism, professional pragmatism, and intentional focus. They demonstrate confidence without arrogance. They affirm others, find the best in bad situations, and project an internal serenity than reassures as much as it reinforces that all will be well, if not today, then tomorrow.
Above all, successful job seekers realize they can’t control what others think and how they behave. They can only be accountable for their own behavior and demonstrate that accountability daily.
What can job seekers can learn from other reality shows?
That Fear Factor success is defined by intestinal fortitude: a delight in height, the thrill of the fall, and the ability to stomach just about anything, to get what you want.
The Apprentice success comes to those who demonstrate emotional steadiness, the capacity to lead and follow, read, respond, and adapt to what the system is, and what the culture demands.
The Swan defines success and failure cosmetically: If you can apply it, inject it, remove it, scrape it, shape it, and drape it, you have a chance to be applauded and rejected on any given day by people who live and die by a three way mirror.
Bottom line: There are no shortcuts. It takes hard work to turn raw talent into recognized strength. Know your limitations without being limited by them. Make mistakes and learn from them. Take calculated risks and succeed because of them.
May 29, 2009 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
“Two months ago I had a superior performance review. Today I don’t have a job. If you asked me what happened between then and now, I’d have to tell you I don’t have a clue. All I know is that last Friday I received a voice mail telling me to meet my boss at 5 pm. I may not know much, but I do know it’s never good to have a meeting with your boss late on a Friday afternoon. By 5:10 pm I was escorted to my desk by a security guard and a box. The box was there for my personal stuff. The security guard was there to make sure I didn’t break anything on the way out. It wasn’t how I planned to start the weekend.”
It’s a story we hear far too often. The written performance review says “great job”; the one- way escort to the parking lot suggests something different. What’s going on?
“Here’s what’s going on”, says the boss. “This person is brilliant. The problem isn’t his ability. The problem is his personality. People don’t want to work with him. They don’t like him. I don’t know how to tell him that his personality gets in the way of other people’s performance, that he creates unnecessary tension, chaos, and discord. I tried, once. I told him what his colleagues said about him and this was his reaction. He said he wanted names. He said if I couldn’t tell him who was saying those things, and if no one was willing to say it to his face, my charges were bogus. So, I dropped it.”
“You dropped it, and then you fired him. What reason did you give when you let him go?” I asked.
“I waited a while before I fired him. I knew if I did it right away I’d have a fight on my hands. And the reason I gave him? Well, it wasn’t a great one. We live in a right to work state, so I didn’t really have to give him any reason. What I did say was that our profits were flat, I had to cut costs and his job was being eliminated.”
“What’d he say?”
“That was the surprise. I thought he’d go ballistic. Instead, he didn’t say anything. I told him the security guard would help him pack his things and walk him out to the parking lot. He said it wasn’t necessary. In fact, that was the only thing he said. He wasn’t rude. He didn’t yell. For a minute I wondered why I never told him the truth about his behavior. Maybe together we could have fixed it, maybe not. But we could have tried.”
“If you’d like to do this differently in the future, you’ll need to figure out how to do it in the present. So, for practice sake, tell me: What bothers you most about this employee’s personality?”
“He’s arrogant, opinionated, and egotistical. He asks and answers his own questions. When his peers disagree with his positions, he waves them off, as though their comments aren’t worth his time. He doesn’t collaborate and never tells any of us what he’s doing. He overextends himself, misses deadlines, blames others for his mistakes and bullies into submission anyone who disagrees with him.”
“What does he do well?”
“He’s an expert in his field and one of the most intelligent people I know. He has a strong work ethic and delivers a quality product. He takes on projects that others can’t or won’t, and works 24/7 to get them done. And socially, away from work, he’s a nice guy. It’s regrettable that his negatives so outweigh his positives.
How did his behaviors derail his career?
“Because he didn’t communicate with us or his customers, we were blindsided. As a result, we lost important clients, we looked incompetent, our department was beaten up by the leadership team. As the department manager I had to take the heat for mistakes he refused to admit making.”
“That’s the information I needed. If you’re interested, come back next week, and I’ll provide you suggestions for giving tough, timely feedback that works for everyone concerned.”
May 27, 2009 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
Got a few hundred minutes? I hope so, because it’s going to take time to follow today’s advice. Instead of focusing on job search tactics, like interviewing and networking, let’s hone in on the bigger issues, like What do I want to do when I grow up?
If you are a grownup and are still asking this question, whatever job you’ve been doing hasn’t been very satisfying.
Hmmm. Not satisfying. Some folks say if you’re making a living at whatever you’re doing, you don’t have to like it, just be satisfied that it puts food on the table. But that isn’t enough. When the Louis Harris polling organization asks American employees what they want in a job, given the choices of good pay, good hours, a chance at promotion, a chance to make a difference, and job security, an overwhelming number choose, “a chance to make a difference.”
The majority of people who call me want to learn how to find a job that’s a better match than the one they have. They say that getting a paycheck isn’t enough. They want to do something that matters. They want intrinsic rewards as well as financial returns.
How can you discover opportunities that bring out the best in you as well as return energy to you? Start with the Carpenter’s Rule: Measure twice, cut once. Think before you act. You don’t like your job? You don’t like your boss? Your customers? Your product? The company you work for? Or the company you keep? Identify what’s not working and you’ll figure out what will:
“My boss acts like I don’t exist. Instead of telling me what he expects, he thinks I should figure it out on my own. My co-workers are busy, so they can’t help me. I try to look like I know what I’m doing despite the fact that I don’t have a clue. I need to quit before I get fired.”
This person sounds like she can succeed in team situations where the boss is clear about expectations, gives directions in an organized, sequential manner, and provides hands-on- training.
”Here’s my deal: My boss micromanages me. She tells me what I need to do, how I need to do it, and when I need to get it done. She is constantly checking on me, second-guessing me, and making my life miserable. I have to get out of here before I scream!”
This person sounds like an independent self-starter who wants to know the goal and the deadline and wants to get there on her own. She won’t succeed in “any” job; she wants one that gives her room to learn, stretch and grow.
You won’t know what the right job provides unless you know what the wrong job denies:
“I’m bored. I do the same thing every day. Where’s the challenge?”
“I’m bored. The work is challenging but the people I work with, aren’t.”
“I’m good at sales. I sell widgets. I don’t want to sell widgets.”
“I’m not good at sales. I like widgets but I can’t sell them.”
“I’m good at my job but embarrassed to be associated with my company.”
“I’m proud of my company and don’t want to embarrass them by doing a bad job.”
Job changers make bad situations worse when they blame others for their predicament rather than take responsibility for the choices they’ve made. They repeat history when they go on interviews and oversell their weaknesses while ignoring their strengths. They stay in the ditch when they say whatever it takes to win a job, without considering the penalties of winning the wrong one.
If you take time to plan each of the steps you take, before you take them, making yourself aware of the likely consequences of your choices, you’ll be more in control of your outcomes.
Here are some basic questions for you to answer:
- What are my personal, professional, and financial career goals?
- What is my time-table?
- What internal and external obstacles must I overcome?
- What support systems, advice, and training do I need?
- How will I measure success?
It takes time, curiosity, self- awareness, and patience to do it right. It’s worth the effort.
May 26, 2009 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
Conventional wisdom has it wrong if the job you go after is a bad match for your skills, your innate strengths, and your style or personality preferences. As many of you can attest, you can do a good job matching your skill sets to the required need, only to find later that you have a serious personality mismatch to that of your boss and/or the culture in which you will be working.
If you want to save yourself time and aggravation you’ll find out what you’re getting into, before you get into it. To do that, you’ll need to start with an honest self-assessment. Once you know your strengths, skills, and style, you can determine which situations fit and which don’t.
Before you start making lists, let’s sort out the differences between these three essential elements of job satisfaction:
A skill is a learned physical task. You can be taught a skill. If you take time, energy, and focus to consistently practice, you can become “skilled” or competent at performing the task. Yet skills alone, even highly developed skills, aren’t enough to succeed in a job.
You also need talent. Talent can’t be taught. Talent is inherent; it comes naturally. And talent alone isn’t enough to get you where you need to be. It takes study, drive, determination, and yes, practice, to turn talent into strength. Strengths, skills, what else does it take?
Style. You can think of style as an expression of your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. As behavior, style distinguishes one individual from another.
What has skill, strength, and style to do with finding the right “fit” with a company? Everything. You want to work where your innate strengths make a difference and you’re valued for having made an ongoing contribution. You want to work where you can learn, grow, and develop your skills. And you want to work where you’re comfortable, where your values, perspectives, and attitudes mesh with those who lead and manage the company.
How can you know where “there” is? Companies don’t advertise their idiosyncrasies, they advertise their products and services. When companies publicize jobs and interview applicants, they describe needs and opportunities, they don’t describe the boss’s quirks and preferences. Interviewers assume applicants know if they can meet and exceed the company’s expectations and if the company is the right one for them.
Therefore, it’s up to you to find out what makes the company tick. Are they watch- dogs? Watch- makers? or clock- watchers? You’ll know what’s important to them if you know where they invest their time and money. R&D? Quality? Customer Service? Distribution? Sales? Marketing? Are they a company known for their streamlined efficiency? Creativity and product diversity? Order, and organization? Rules and regulation?
Is their management style top down, bottom up, participative, non- existent/inconsistent? What do they reward, instill, ignore, replace?
Ask questions if you want to get answers. Ask the interviewer to describe where the company is going and what they need to do to get there; ask who they want to have designing the course, mapping the direction, driving the train, and maintaining the engines.
Ask interviewers to describe the characteristics of employees who succeed, and those who fail. Ask questions about the greatest obstacles the company is facing, in the long and short term, and their commitment, in time, finances, and personnel, to accomplish their objectives in overcoming those challenges.
Ask about the work they want you to do, the achievements they expect from you, the resources they’ll provide you, and how they’ll measure success from you. If you have the courage to ask questions, you’ll know where you stand. You might have the right skill sets, and the wrong style; the right style and the wrong strengths; the right strengths, and the wrong skills.
If it’s a fit, go for it with all you’ve got. If it’s not, keep looking.
May 25, 2009 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
He wanted to meet so we could discuss his job search. He said it wasn’t going anywhere and he needed help re-starting it. And, he said he just needed to vent.
“Joyce, I’m not getting any replies to my resume. I must have mailed 300 copies and I haven’t gotten one nibble in response. Please review it and tell me what’s missing.”
He handed it to me, I glanced at it and told him, as gently as I could, that he had forgotten to include his name and address.
That’s when he vented. He called himself every name in the book. He stood, stomped around, flopped back down. He groaned and moaned; he slapped his head; he pulled his hair. We were two minutes into a meeting that had a long way to go before it ended, so I let him vent to his heart’s content. After he calmed down I dared to ask him to describe his networking efforts.
“Well, I’m telling people that I’m out of work, that I need a job, and they need to call me if they hear about anything.”
Have you heard from anyone?
“No, I haven’t”, he said. “And I’m disappointed. I thought some of these people were my friends, but I haven’t heard from anyone about anything. What’s going on? Are they avoiding me because I’m unemployed?”
They’re probably avoiding you because you’re making your job search their problem. It’s up to you to find the openings, make the calls, and do the follow-ups.
“Then why bother networking? I thought the whole idea was to let friends and acquaintances know that you’re on the market so they could help. ”
Sure, let them know how they can help, but from what you describe, you’re asking your friends to look for the jobs, and let you know when they find them. Change your approach. Describe your current status, your strengths, and your search. Then, ask their advice.
“What should I say? And what do you mean by, ‘ask for advice’?'”
Try something like this: ‘Tom, I recently left the XYZ Company to continue my career in sales and…’
“Whoa, Joyce. I got fired. Shouldn’t I say that’s why I’m looking?”
Too much information. Why complicate the conversation? If you talk about getting fired the two of you will likely spend valuable time discussing all the “ain’t it awful” stuff that goes along with it. Before you know it, the conversations over and you haven’t succeeded in anything but confusing your contact about your suitability as a prospective job candidate.
“Got it. You have my attention. Let’s start over. What should I say?”
You want to describe what you do and why you’re successful doing it. You want your listeners to remember it, to get the word out, and to help you as a result, all because they want to, not because you asked. At our last meeting you told me about yourself and what you’re good at doing. With that in mind, I’ll describe a conversation that you can have with your networking contact, Tom.
Tom, I respect your opinion, that’s why I wanted to talk with you about my job search and to ask you a few questions. I recently left the XYZ Company to continue my career in sales. Tom, what I do best is relationship selling, problem solving, and follow through on everything I do. I’m good at simplifying the sales process instead of making it more complex. I take out the technical jargon so the folks I’m talking to understand what they’re buying and what’s right for them. When I give my word, I keep it. My customers are as loyal to me as I am to them. I work hard for my customers and for my companies and I’ve been rewarded for it. Tom, where are the best opportunities for someone with my strengths and who are the people I need to contact for leads?
“Joyce, that’s networking I can handle. It describes what I do, focuses my search, and puts the responsibility for finding the job where it belongs, on me.”
May 24, 2009 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
“Joyce, I feel like I’ve been drop-kicked and hoodwinked. I was hired and fired and never paid a dime in between. I can’t ever afford it, but right now, a month after the holidays, well, this is as bad a time as it can get.”
I asked the caller to describe what happened, and here’s what he said:
“I’d been out of work for a long time, laid off from a company that paid pretty good wages. I was hanging as best I could, doing odd jobs, following up on every ad and opportunity I could find. Nothing was looking worthwhile.
Then at last, I thought I found the right thing. An advertisement for a sales management job and a chance to make a thousand dollars a week. I figured it was a good match because I knew I could sell and I’ve been told I’m a good manager. I called the telephone number provided and was a little concerned that the company rep wouldn’t tell me what I’d be selling or how many people I’d manage, but I figured they had reasons and I wouldn’t push the issue.
It took several interviews but I got the job. I was as excited as I was relieved. I called my family and told them that Christmas was going to be in January and I’d be playing Santa. You should’ve heard them shouting for joy!
When I showed up for work I learned that I wasn’t on the payroll until I could prove that I’d be a topnotch salesman. To get ready, they said I needed to spend a week with a training supervisor, learning how to sell the product. The best way to learn, they said, was to practice with my family and friends. I was hesitant to ask them, but relieved that everyone I called was so pleased I had found work they wanted to help anyway they could.
I gave the supervisor my list of “volunteers” and that’s when he told me I’d be a door to door salesman, and I wouldn’t be managing anybody. I needed the money so I went with the program.
I spent the next week scrubbing, cleaning, washing, and demonstrating what those super-charged pricey products had the capacity to do. My family and friends helped me by pretending to be customers and I cleaned for them while pretending to sell them products. It wasn’t long before I was ready to start earning some real money.
The last practice session of the week was with my mother, who’s in her late 80′s. She’s old, can’t hardly see or hear or move, but not so old that she couldn’t fall in love with those products. She wanted them and she said so. Well, that was fine, but she didn’t have the money to pay for them and I struggle to support her. I told her, ‘Mother, I know you want them, and they’re good products, real good, but you can’t afford them.’
The trainer heard me say that, and told me I was fired. I had turned down a sale and I wasn’t the right man for the job.
I said, “You told me this was practice. My mother doesn’t have any money, can’t move without a walker, and can’t see if her house is dirty or clean. I won’t sell her what she can’t pay for. ”
“Well, that’s not your problem,” he said. “Your job is to sell products. The collection agency’s job is to get the money.”
With that, I was on the street, poorer and more disheartened than I’ve been in a long time.”
What can you take from this cautionary tale?
When you’re out of work, you’re more likely to suspend judgment and reach for something that looks too good to be true. So here’s a friendly reminder: No matter how good the job might be for someone else, if what you’re asked to do or say goes against your values, or violates your standards, don’t do it or take it. It’s a mismatch that won’t improve with income, time, or experience. Cut your losses and learn from the experience.
May 23, 2009 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
There’s a lot in life you can’t control and plenty that you can. You can worry yourself into a frenzy about the former and over-do the latter. You can change your perspective about both and live a little longer and be a little nicer, to yourself and those with whom you live and work.
That’s easy to say, and hard to do, if you’re stuck in a mindset of “this is who I am and I just can’t change”; “my mom had a bad temper, that’s why I’m always angry”; “my dad couldn’t keep a job; that’s why I can’t”: “I’m helpless…” “I’m hopeless….” “they’re doin’ it to me…” and “I just can’t help it….”
You may not be able to change the circumstances of your birth and upbringing, but you can change your attitude about where you are and what you choose to do about it.
Attitude. A bad attitude pushes good people away; makes a tough job tougher, and a bad situation worse. Negative attitude turns bad luck into self-fulfilling prophecy. A good attitude attracts supporters; makes a tough situation manageable; a tough job doable.
Life is a roller coaster of highs and lows without much time in between to contemplate the whys of one and the how-comes of the other. That’s why it makes sense to adopt one attitude and stick with it. And if you’re going to do that, you might as well pick the one that serves you best.
What’s that? You think I’m preaching irrepressible optimism and I’m not in touch with reality, yours in particular? Hmmm. If that’s what you think, you’re right. I don’t know what’s going on with you and the life that you live. I don’t know how much courage, grit, and determination it takes for you to get through the day. I don’t know how you struggle if you have a mean-spirited boss, co-workers who take credit for your work, or customers who beat you up on a daily basis.
I don’t believe that you need to like all the cards you’ve been dealt. I do believe it’s essential that you move forward with a notion of “I can” rather than the unrelenting despair of “I can’t.”
I’m a management and executive development coach. For more than twenty years I’ve met with clients, private and corporate, to identify and focus career direction, develop and enhance leadership and management strategies, and find ways to confront, assess and overcome countless obstacles that block an individual’s pathway to success.
When clients want career development, I ask questions that enable them to recall and describe their earlier life experiences, going back to high school days, as well as examine what’s currently happening in their lives. As they speak, I listen for patterns in their behaviors and trends in their interests. I look for what gives them energy and what takes it away. I learn about people who bring out the best in them and those who appear to undermine their efforts. I discover what motivates them to succeed, and what holds them back. I explore the triggers that hook them emotionally, and are detrimental, and those that get them going, and are beneficial.
The one thing that each person reveals, without my having to ask, is attitude. Attitude is the snap in a person’s step, the sparkle in the eye, the response offered, and the one not given. Attitude inspires word choices, conditions responses, and communicates through body language. Attitude doesn’t define character; it reveals perspective. Attitude doesn’t measure personal power; it reveals the level of power the person believes him or herself capable of attaining and projecting.
And as sure as stimulus triggers response, attitude sends a message and gets a reaction. It might not be the reaction that you want. You might be surprised and disappointed to find out how your spoken and unspoken messages are being interpreted. If you know how others perceive you and the news isn’t good, change your attitude and you’ll change your behavior. If you don’t know, because you’ve never dared ask, find out. If what you hear hurts, and you’re told what you can do differently, change your behavior and you’ll change your attitude.
May 22, 2009 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
How open are you to receiving feedback about your work and workplace behavior from a perspective different from your own? How aware are you of other outlooks, viewpoints that collide, values that contradict, and standards that differ from those you envision to be right and just?
If you want to lead the team or just stay on the team, ask for input and listen to what you hear. Employers and co-workers are paying attention. And like it or not, they have opinions they’re itching to share with you. You might not agree with what you hear, you might not value the attitude of the person sharing it, but if you turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to what they’re saying, watch out. There’s a brick wall, with your name written on it, and it’s heading your way.
Case in point: Someone named Aaron (Darren or Sharon,) says, “How can I get promoted from my current position to a job where I make decisions and lead people? I’m always overlooked in favor of hotshots, some younger than I, some not. Some come from outside the company, some come from the cube next door. What am I supposed to do to get that job?”
If you’re doing all the talking, no one’s listening. You may have all the answers and not know the questions. In other words, you don’t know what you don’t know, and that has to change.
“But I know what I’m talking about. Why should someone else tell me what I already know?”
Aaron, when you started with the company, they paid you to be independent, self- reliant, and productive. You did what you were asked, effectively and efficiently. You were focused, organized, and straightforward. As a result, they increased your pay and promoted you to manager.
“That’s right. I’m the same person I was, and now they say I’m “not good enough”. I’m called an ‘arrogant, overbearing micromanager’. Can you beat that? ”
Aaron, when you got that promotion, your job changed from independent player to team leader. That meant you needed to change your independent style to one that’s interdependent, empowering, and motivating, bringing out the best in others, so the company can benefit from the sum of all your efforts.
“I don’t know if I can do that.”
If you can figure out where you’re working you can find a way to fit in: Every business culture is different. Some companies like their employees to be team players, working together, building consensus, going for win-win outcomes. Some companies are hierarchical, insisting on structured approaches to problem solving and decision-making. And some want their employees to push boundaries, rewarding creativity over same-old thinking, where management styles range from “take no prisoners”, to “anything goes”. Where do you work, Aaron? And is it where you have the best chance to succeed?
Wherever you’re employed, avoid taking extreme positions, issuing ultimatums, and “my way or the highway” mandates: It takes courage to be the only one willing to take an unpopular stand. It takes political savvy to know if it’s a stand worth taking. Pick your fights wisely, present your position privately and select your words carefully. Look for win-win solutions that result in better outcomes than either of you could otherwise accomplish.
if you want to promote yourself you’ll need to promote your subordinates to replace you: To do that you’ll need to train them well to do their jobs well, so that you don’t have to spend all your time in the trenches with them. That requires focusing on their development, giving them authority along with responsibility, letting them make mistakes so that they can learn from them, and rewarding their good performance with additional experience. It also means giving them recognition and providing them an audience and opportunity to showcase their accomplishments.
If you can do all that and open yourself to feedback that tells you what’s working and what isn’t, you have a chance to prove to your superiors that you’re ready for what’s next. Communicate what you want, why you want it, and how you’ll make a difference to your company when you get it.
May 21, 2009 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
Up and at ‘em! It’s a few weeks past the honkin’ and hollerin’ dawn of the new year and I bet you haven’t made out your list of New Year’s Resolutions. Surely there are countless things you resolve to do differently this year; dozens of ways you want to be, think, and do that are new and improved over the not-so-hot ways you did them last year. So, get in gear, pencils sharp, paper ready.
“Whoa, pal. First of all, I’ve still got a hangover from 2003, so speak with a little less energy and vitality, ’cause you’re giving me a headache. Second of all, what’s wrong with my being content with who I am and what I do? I mean, give me a break. Every time I turn around someone tells me how I have to act and what I need to worry about if I don’t act that way. I’m over it with all this changing and rearranging. I’ve had enough of it to last me a lifetime.
In fact, all your noise about making promises has inspired me. I’ve got more than one promise for you, I’ve got three: I’m going to be me, talk like me, and act like me for all of 2004. While I’m at it, I’ve got five more resolutions for you: I’m going to eat whatever I want, sleep as long as I please; work when I feel like it, drink what I choose; and drive in whatever condition I find myself. I’ve done all the changing I’m going to do, thank you very much. Leave me alone and go wake up someone else with your New Year’s Resolution Celebration.”
If that sounds a bit like you on the morning after the biggest ‘make a promise’ day of the year, you’re in some heavy company. The challenge of seeing the world differently, whether close-up or at a distance, and to change your view of yourself and your role within it, can be more than you can manage.
In fact, the thought of making New Year’s Resolutions rings the bells of frustration and exasperation in the hearts of many. Some have had a very tough year making ends meet while staying employed, and some have been working their hardest getting that way again. Some feel that they have been mistreated by hard-working, well-intended businesses that were powerless to take hard work and good behavior into account when having to close doors and shutter windows.
Some don’t feel that way at all:
“For the life of me, I don’t have patience with all this pessimism and the people who persist in it. They wear me out. Look at what we’ve survived. We’ve survived nine-eleven, and we’re coming back; we’ve survived a lingering downturn, and we’re coming back. There are plenty of things to look forward to and plenty of evidence that it’s going to be there when we catch up to it.
I don’t have patience with people who run others down, or lecture everyone they see on what they should do, and how they should think, to be on the right side of political, religious, and intellectual thought. And I don’t have patience with people who are content with standing still.
I think it’s important to make things better than we found them. Sometimes I work on getting my act together, getting done what I need to do. Sometimes I work on learning something new, thinking in different ways. I’m not content to let things be. If I’m not moving forward I’m sliding backward, and that’s not acceptable to me.”
And there are others, finding their place somewhere in the middle, accepting who they are and where they find themselves; learning and growing, not out of a sense of need or resolution but out of a desire to take action when and where the spirit moves them, when and if it does.
And the rest probably resent the notion of being so narrowly defined, pigeonholed, or categorized, as to be in limited to one place or the other.
So wherever you are and whoever you choose to be, I hope you enjoy a year of safety, security, peace and prosperity.
May 20, 2009 by Joyce Richman · Comments Off
I’ve received so many requests for more of the “most common mistakes made by job seekers”, I thought I’d better throw a few more your way. Here goes:
You commit the granddaddy of all job hunting errors when you take yourself out of the running by time wasting, over-thinking, and under-selling.
You waste time when you spend all your time planning your search and expend no time implementing it. (These are the folks who spend their days and nights making endless lists, organizing and reorganizing, alphabetizing and cross checking, writing and rewriting, all in an effort to avoid making the call, knocking on the door, and otherwise taking the proverbial bull by the horns and making something happen.)
You over-think when you over-worry what your references might say, what the job might entail, what a move might be like, and what your in- laws and neighbors and friends might assume about you if you can’t get a job pdq. Over-thinking results in under-deciding. Instead of gaining ground you’re stuck in an endless loop of data gathering ruminations of what-if’s, why-not’s, and not-yet’s.
You under-sell yourself and your proven abilities when your confidence is shot, your self esteem takes a hike, and your will to overcome negative self-talk, won’t.
It takes a spirit of adventure to look for a job. It takes self- awareness to find a good match. It takes courage to ask yourself, and others, tough questions about your abilities, and it takes grit to listen to candid answers. It takes courage to ask for the job that’s right for you. It takes courage to persist when bad timing and bad luck appear to conspire against you.
The spirit of adventure. You have to be more than an arm- chair traveler if you hope to capitalize on job opportunities that are right for you. Timing is everything. Over reliance on internet monster boards and published want ads can lull you into a believing that you’re proactive in your search, when, in fact, you’re stuck in a persistent cycle of hide and seek and wait and see.
Self awareness and a healthy self concept enable you to answer, without pause, that dastardly “Tell me about yourself” question; the question that typically ranks in the top ten of a job applicant’s “please don’t ask me” list.
When you know your core values, your strengths, and learned abilities, where you want to work and what you want to do, you can respond to any interview question knowing that what you’re saying is true and accurate, for you.
In fact, open-ended questions that look so simple and sound so innocent, are. Answer them by focusing on why you’re sitting across from the individual who’s doing all the asking. Tell her (or him) what you want in a job, what you’re best at doing, and how you make a difference to the company and the people with whom you work.
Then pause, smile, and Mr. Jones or Ms. Smith will ask the next question. That’s what they do.
Courage. Successful job seekers get the jobs they go after because they have the courage to take calculated risks. They’ve done their homework: they know what they do well, and know how they add value to organizations that need and want what they have to offer. They’re willing to ask questions, to be sure that what they think they’re signing up for is what in fact they’ll get.
Successful job seekers know what they’re about, having learned life’s lessons from good times and bad. They know the kinds of bosses who bring out the best in them, and which ones who bring out the beast. They know that a company’s culture influences everyone’s sense of self, defines team play, and determines how the game is played.
They’ve lost good jobs and won bad jobs and suffered through jobs that did little more than put food on the table, and were thankful to have food to put on the table. Throughout, they did their best, worked their hardest, learned as much as they could, all while realizing that work isn’t life; it’s what pays for what we need, while we’re living it.