A few weekends ago my husband and I went to see comedienne Paula Poundstone in Boulder, CO. If you're not familiar with her, you're probably under 40. Paula is a comedienne we have like for several decades. She's one of those naturally funny people who makes us laugh.
Part of her 'act' that she's very good at is interacting with the audience. She'll pick someone out of the audience (based on their reaction to something she said) and ultimately asks them what they do for a living. As a Career Coach, I'm always interested in this question and of course, the answer. She did this to 3 men in our audience and I was fascinated by their answers and her interaction with them. Let's see if I can give you a taste of what we witnessed.
The 1st guy, when asked what he did for a living, answered "I work in an office". Paula, being naturally confused and probably amused by this answer, made several jokes in response to his answer and then she tried to get some more details from him: 'What do you do in the office?' He NEVER really answered that question, but eventually he did say where he worked.
The 2nd guy Paula asked "What do you do for a living?", said 'many things'. After much pulling and prodding: "What did you do yesterday?" "What did you do the day before that?" - he finally answered that he was making a film about a film that was being made . Paula had fun with that one. Then he said he was a real estate appraiser. Paula asked more questions about that.
The 3rd guy Paula asked said 'I do nothing'. Paula was again confused and amused with this answer. After more digging, it turns out he was retired. She nudged some more and got out of him what he did before he retired (facilities maintenance) and what he was doing now that he retired, because it's really hard to do 'nothing'.
Now I can't list or remember all of Paula's comments, jokes and questions to these guys, but let me tell you, sitting there listening to her questions and the lack of useful information in their answers was painful to me! Now I'll give you - the guys might have been nervous to be called on like that in an audience, but still, these were all professional men who COULD NOT FOR THE LIFE OF THEM answer "What do you do for a living?". With each one, you could feel Paula's frustration with the lack of information they were providing.
From my Career Coach perspective, I couldn't help but think 'they are really blowing an opportunity here'. I was glad that none of them said they were unemployed or looking for work. If they had, I would hope they would have done a better job.
But let's for one minute assume that the real estate appraiser is in business for himself and that he's always in need of good referrals. He had a great opportunity to share that information and present himself as a true professional with 1300 people who were hanging on every word he (and Paula) said. If there was someone in the audience who needed his services, he could have made a valuable connection.
My point in telling this story is that there are networking and marketing opportunities EVERYWHERE! When you get the opportunity, no matter how remote or unlikely, you should take it. And, in order to take advantage of it, you need to be prepared in advance. So are YOU ready, at a moment's notice, to answer "What do you do for a living?".
If you're a job seeker, I recommend you start watching the show Shark Tank. It's a show where 5 well-known and very successful entrepreneurs (the Sharks) listen to pitches from aspiring entrepreneurs on their business idea. After the Sharks hear the pitch, they decide if they want to partner with the entrepreneur by buying into their business for a stake in the business.
For instance, the aspiring entrepreneur may ask for $200,000 for a 20% stake in the business. If a deal is made with a shark, in addition to the infusion of cash into their business, the business owner gets coached by the Shark they have partnered with.
Pay attention to the pitches by the business owners. Notice how they describe their business, their story about how the business came to be, notice their excitement or nervousness - do they sell YOU on their idea?
Notice what the Sharks ask about - the numbers, the sales, how many have been sold, what's the profit margin, how much does it cost to make, how are they getting customers, how much money have they already put into the business, what is the current structure of their business, what is their business sense. The aspiring entrepreneurs have to be on their game - they have to know their stuff - just like you do in your job search conversations.
After you've watched a few of these pitches, you get to know very quickly when the product or service is a good idea and whether or not they will be successful. It's exactly the same thing that's happening to you when you are interviewing: the interviewer makes a relatively quick judgement about whether you know what you're talking about or not. They also make a swift decision about whether they like you or not. Several times the Sharks have said they want to partner with an entrepreneur because they like them.
So, be on your toes when you are networking or interviewing - those first few moments will determine if you will be successful or whether you'll be thrown to the sharks.
It's no secret I'm kind of a reality TV devotee (alright, junkie). One of the shows I watch regularly is American Idol and recently judge Keith Urban said something to a contestant that I thought was rather profound:
"Talent shows us what you can do, but artistry shows us who you are". As usual, I thought about how this statement relates to a job seeker.
Initially, hiring decision makers are looking at a candidate's talent - they look at your resume because you had the right ratio and combination of keywords on your resume. As Keith described it above - they are looking at your 'talent': what you've done, and they hope it can translate into 'what you can do for us'.
Your 'talent' is all a decision maker has to go on in the beginning. It's what gets you in the door to the interview.
After they know you have the talent and you've 'done the job' and can probably 'do the job' for them, what the decision maker is REALLY interested in is your 'artistry', i.e. who you are. The aptly described and ever-present 'fit'. Will you fit in with the organization, group, team, department? Did we make a connection? Who are you?!
The decision makers are also asking themselves: Do we like this person? Can we see ourselves working with this person every day? Are you (the candidate) excited and motivated about the possibility of doing this job?
Just like on American Idol, there are tens of thousands of talented people out there. But only a few of those have 'artistry' and make the connection with us. Of course you have to have the 'talent', but focus more on your 'artistry' and you'll increase the chances of making that connection with the person who deserves to have you working with them.
I'm happy to admit it - it's Friday of March Madness, my billion dollar bracket is already busted and I'm watching the Friday afternoon nail-biters. Anyway, I just saw a commercial I thought was creative and made me think of (surprise, surprise) job seekers and the job search process.
Here's some of the dialogue from the commercial:
"When your cable is on the fritz, you get tense, when you get tense, you can't sleep, when you can't sleep, you need to sleep, when you need to sleep, you get stranded, when you get stranded, you need to survive, when you have to survive, you eat wild berries, when you eat wild berries, you chase imaginary butterflies into something highly illegal.... don't chase imagery butterflies into something highly illegal."
So you don't want to chase imaginary butterflies, which in this case are the supposed jobs on the job boards. Job seekers are still chasing the imaginary butterflies (jobs) on the job boards and wonder why they aren't getting interviews. While the jobs on the job boards may not be completely imaginary, what is imaginary is the delusion that your online application and resume are actually being seen by another human. They aren't.
The imaginary butterflies have been described as 'the black hole' by most job seekers - which is what it feels like when you're submitting online applications - your online applications are going into the black hole, never to be heard from again.
So job seekers: don't get tense, get your sleep, don't get stranded, do more than survive and by all means necessary - don't eat those wild berries.
I live in the Denver metro area, which means this past Sunday after the Super Bowl all of us were....stunned. Our beloved Broncos got slaughtered starting with the very first seconds of the game.
As a job seeker you can probably relate to the crush of disappointment after hearing a few "no's" when you thought you were a perfect fit and had nailed the interview.
Your ability to deal with a defeat will impact your success as a job seeker. I always tell my clients I wish I could spray them with Teflon so the crud that will be thrown at them during this process will roll right off. It takes a thick skin not to feel defeated in this process, but the more resilience you can demonstrate, the better off you'll be.
So how can be more resilient in this process? Here are some ideas:
If you commit to these ideas, soon you will be skipping like this bronco and all of his fans. We're already looking forward to next season!
This month I had the opportunity to speak at a local Optimist Club meeting. At the end of my presentation, they gave me a tile that had the Optimist Creed on it:
I've always thought of myself as an optimist, but I sure as heck don't always comply with this creed, and it got me thinking of the applicability to job seekers.
If as a job seeker you could focus on: your peace of mind, your health, expecting the best, enthusiasm, releasing the mistakes of the past, improving yourself and releasing worry, anger and fear - you could eliminate most of the emotional and psychological distress many job seekers experience at some point during their job search.
So post this where you will see it often - I have my tile sitting right in front of me. And let's all repeat the creed daily " I promise myself..."
I love the song ‘Proud’ by Heather Small. Listen to it here: http://t.co/Gg7Yxj87
The lyric in this song that continues to speak to me is: “What have you done today to make you feel proud?” This line from the song is a useful mantra for our unfortunate struggle with a new year resolution and I am always looking for a way to support my clients to take action. Bottom line: Change is hard for us humans. It takes such effort and it helps if we acknowledge the small, baby steps we take to get us closer to our goal.
My mission is to get as many people as possible to daily ask and answer the question from the song: “What have I done today to make me feel proud?” For a job seeker, it can be any action you’ve taken to reach out to a connection, make a phone call, do some research, apply for a job, write a ‘thank you’ note. Or it could also be something you have done just for yourself, like a self-care activity such as exercising. You pick – it doesn’t really matter what it is. Just something that made you proud…today….that YOU did!
So here’s the challenge: Go to the Career3D Facebook page and post what you did today that made you feel proud. Go here now: www.Facebook.com/Career3D Post your proud moment and repeat tomorrow, and the next day and the next, etc.
In the last few posts we’ve been exploring the topic of maintaining your sanity during your job search. The last post addressed self-care strategies, now we’re moving on to job search strategies. As I mentioned previously, you simply can not be successful in your job search or career if you are first and foremost not taking care of yourself physically, spiritually, psychologically or socially. Now that you’ve got a handle on all that (you do, right?), we can move on to actual job search strategies.
It is possible to maintain your sanity during your job search if you keep your eye on the ball. There are so many distractions vying for your attention, you have to be diligent not to get sucked in to other activities, time wasters and OPP (other people’s problems). So here is my job search list to help you be intentional during your job search, which will in turn help you maintain your sanity and take your control back:
Finally, because I’m a mental health professional, I leave you with one last thought: Abundance Thinking vs. Scarcity Thinking. If you tell yourself there’s not enough jobs out there and too much competition, so why try, you’re engaged in scarcity thinking. Turn that around and tell yourself daily : “I am just as good if not better than my competition, I deserve to be fully employed…there are plenty of opportunities out there” and see where those thoughts take you. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain, including your sanity!
In my last blog post we looked at why it’s important to maintain your sanity during your job search and why a job search is stressful (beyond the ‘duh’). In this blog post and the next one, we’re going to look at actual strategies you can use to help maintain your sanity during your job search. I have these strategies broken down into self-care strategies and job search strategies. These 2 sets of strategies are very different, yet equally important and impactful to your job search and career success.
I have Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling, which is why I take this issue of mental health more seriously than most career coaches. Not having your sanity during your job search is a recipe for disaster and it’s why I address it first with new clients and continue to check in with current clients on how they are feeling.
So here’s my list of self-care job strategies:
If taking action on even one of the above strategies would be new for you, I invite you to explore what it would take to make that first step. Trying to be successful in your job search without being in good mental health is simply setting yourself up for disappointment and failure. Please don’t ignore this important job search topic! It's the foundation that your job search and career success rests on.
If you have questions about any of these strategies, please don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss it. After all, you have nothing to lose (except your sanity) and everything to gain!
If you believe you have only 2 chances of finding a job: slim and none, then you will be glad you’re reading this post right now.
If you’re experiencing job search insanity, maybe you need a few reminders, such as:
So, why is a job search so stressful? Here are some thoughts:
In a future blog post we’ll take a look at some strategies you can use to help you regain your job search sanity and reduce your job search stress.
In the meantime, if you’ve lost your positive outlook, are starting to unravel, are feeling stressed, can’t manage your time or need help marketing yourself, let’s have a conversation.
Job Search and Career Strategist who hopes I have written something you'll find useful.