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A Reality Check - Look to Charles Darwin for Career Tips
22 November 2011
As a career transition coach, I come across quite a number of people who have been out of a job. Everyone in this situation feels like they have been out of it for too long. Some people in this situation can’t seem to remember what to do to get a job. I wonder, are they scared or are they spoiled?
Perhaps spoiled because they have been living in a relaxed, semi-retired state basking in the sunshine at Noosa Beach, scraping by on the profit they’ve made from selling their investment property or the remains of their redundancy payment? Spoiled, perhaps, because they don’t have to go into an office to work from Mondays to Fridays, aren’t accountable to a manager, or anyone for that matter, and can choose to volunteer to Save the Earth or Save the Whales should they wish. Spoiled, perhaps, because they aren’t ready to exchange this new and relaxed life for the life of work again?
Perhaps Scared. Scared because money is running out, the GFC has rendered certain investment properties a fraction of their expected value and they have forgotten the transferrable and marketable skills they may possess. Stalled by their circumstances, they have no idea what the future holds, and how to take control of life again. Many in this situation have simply forgotten HOW TO SURVIVE in this market.
Charles Darwin, father of the theory of evolution said, “It’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor is it the most intelligent. It is the species that is most adaptable to change that actually survives.” If this strikes a chord with you, think about it – how adaptable are you to changing circumstances?
Reality Check Number 1:
Getting a job is a full-time job.
If you think it’s any easier than that, you’re in for a shock. If you’re currently in a job and looking for a new job, your nights and weekends are going to be taken over by this search. If you’re not currently working, your new job is to find a job, and you should spend a typical work day researching companies, making applications, meeting new people, attending networking sessions, following up on meetings, connecting with new leads, liaising with recruiters, expanding your contact base and, I certainly hope, securing and going to interviews!
Remember, getting a job is a FULL TIME job if you are serious about it. I have many clients who have said to me when they were in transition, between jobs, “I don’t know how I found time to work! I’m so busy now I don’t have time to work on my job search activities.” Well, Hello Reality. Mars to Earth … enjoying life is great and good for the soul but if you want a job, you have to work at it.
Reality Check Number 2:
You have to work harder than everyone else. Networking is the key. Yes, let’s not fight about it. You have to become an expert networker. That means you have to reach out and talk to people, ask for advice, ask for guidance and gain feedback and suggestions on how to adapt what you are doing to be successful.
On a quiet day, you should make a minimum of five phone calls and send five emails to your target market, even if there are no advertised roles. Research the Internet – it’s right at your fingertips after all - and find an email address or phone number of a specific person. Swallow your pride and make contact. Request for 10 - 15 minutes of their time to tell you about themselves and the company. Don’t ask for a job; make the connection, and if all else fails you have made a new friend. Each of these connections are a potential lead to where you hope to go.
Research a company before you make contact. Research the person you wish to reach out to. Write an introductory email, follow-up letter or thank you note, check for errors and typos. Most people don’t do this. If you do this you will increase your chances of success.
Reality Check Number 3:
Set up a system for yourself to keep track of the companies you’re interested in, the people you’ve met, and those you’ve made contact with. Keep track of what you have done – when, who what and where. Automate reminders to follow up with those you’ve promised to maintain contact with.
Keep in touch with the people who make up your Career Network. Linkedin.com is a great resource and one of the best professional networking sites to maintain and expand your connections. Send occasional emails to check in and simply say hello on occasion. Perhaps send a link to an interesting article you read that you think they might find helpful. Ask your new connections to help you out by making introductions to new contacts. Keep track of your activities
Reality Check Number 4:
There is no such thing as failure. It’s only FEEDBACK.
Failure actually can be a good thing - embrace it, and learn from it. If you don’t get a job you interviewed for, see if you can speak to someone who can help you understand what you could have done differently to secure the position. Ask what qualities the selected candidate possessed to make them Candidate Number One. What is rejection? An opportunity to learn.
Has this happened to you … not hearing from a person or a company where you submitted your résumé? Yes, this is as disheartening as being outright rejected. However, you know that every person you’re trying to reach is busy. It’s completely appropriate to follow up on unanswered emails, as long as it doesn’t turn into a hounding festival. If after one or two attempts to follow up the silence is deafening, just move on. You have more fish to fry. Perhaps the hiring manager was inundated with résumés and didn’t have time to get back to you, or the hiring manager was traveling on business and couldn’t respond.
Despite feeling like you’re flailing in the wind, get comfortable with the unknown. It’s a learned skill. You will survive. Just keep in mind that when someone doesn’t hire you it’s not personal. They’re making a business decision, remember that and it won’t hurt so badly.
Reality Check Number 5:
Learn to adapt.
If your emails are constantly disappearing into the ether, if you’re consistently not being selected for an interview or not successfully landing a job, it is time for you to think about changing. Analyse stuff. What is it with your resume? Is it good, or is there something missing? Consider your skills. What is not in your professional toolkit that is preventing your forward progress? Maybe you need to learn some new tricks – think about retraining or upgrading your skills.
Consider where else you could apply your passions, interests and skills. If you’ve been in one industry your whole life, and can’t find a job there, consider other industries that could benefit from your skills. What have you got that are transferrable? You may need a career coach to assist you to see the forest for the trees. How can you be the solution to an organisation’s problems? Consider using your skills in a completely new direction – what is your true passion? What would make you leap out of bed in the morning? Who knows? You might find yourself in a brand new career!
No matter what, continue to adapt. It is the ONLY way to survive. If you are stuck, reach out for help – find a mentor, a knowledgeable friend or industry expert and talk to them. Be open to suggestions and new ways of thinking.
Reality Check Number 6:
No one likes a whinger. If you’re complaining about getting a job, what will you be like when you have a job? Will the whinging continue for whatever reason? We all know that there’s bound to be something that’s not right with a whinger! Give yourself, and others a break; regardless of your circumstance, don’t be one of those people who believe that they deserve things be easy and to always go their way. The best thing you can do for your career development is enjoy the process, engage positively and with curiosity as to what may happen, and always take action.
My favourite quote is from Goethe – and it keeps me going when the going gets tough, “Magic is believing in yourself. If you can do that, you can make anything happen”
Jane Jackson is a career coach, life coach and director of Style Success, coaching for success. Contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org or ‘like’ her page on Facebook and get regular inspirational and job seach tips: https://www.facebook.com/janejackson.careercoach