In my 30 years of practice as a career coach, I’ve seen some pervasive beliefs folks have that often impede their job search. When these ill-serving perspectives are reframed, I’ve seen people at all ages; and career roles, levels and industries realize that they have much more power in their search than they ever thought possible.
- Job Search is a Grind
When you believe that the job search is a punishment resulting from loss of a job; or a drudgery to be endured once you’ve mindfully decided to make a career transition, your natural inclination will be to get it over with as soon as possible. Holding to this belief, I’ve seen many folks take the first thing that came along, when it wasn’t a good fit. It is true that job search is most often a skin-in-the-game thing. It’s also often true that you want to land the right fit as soon as possible. Often overlooked, is that job search can actually be a very enjoyable process. Many of my clients use the word “therapeutic”. The fun lies in the realization that you have options, control and power. When you’ve assessed what you want, researched where that is, and strategized how to get it, you are quite simply, in a good place. You can turn down an offer, realizing that you can find a better one. You can look forward to an interview, because you know it is a chance to be curious and explore. You will approach it as collaboration, rather than an all-or-nothing interrogation.
- Job Search is Chasing
When job seekers’ frame of mind is to simply chase opportunities, they often lose patience and become frustrated. “I only see one or two openings, and I’ve heard nothing.” “I’ve applied to more than 20 jobs online and heard nada.” This single-minded belief is a trap with an inner voice murmuring, “If I don’t get what I want the next time around, I will stop trying. I don’t know what else to do.” Anything short of a job offer is perceived as a failure. Job search is largely exploring. Chase implies a hunt in the direct pursuit of prey, zeroing in on a known adversary, and moving in for the kill. By contrast, exploration is a process you manage in a relaxed, information-seeking way to satisfy your curiosity. The chase is an all-or-nothing game with negative notions about too many details and scary unknowns. Think of it as exploratory detective work. Focus on finding the right work situations. And I promise you that for every promising job you’ve found, there are others undiscovered. The wise job seeker understands this and looks on. About 80 percent of your time should be in detective work and exploration, because the seek-and-ye-shall-find integrates self-assessment, identifying potential fits in companies and jobs, communicating to others what you want and desire, and selling yourself as a contributor employers need.
- Job Search Requires I Have A Special Talent
One of the grumbles I often hear from job seekers is the no-talent refrain. “I don’t do anything especially well, so why hire me?” Many folks believe that a single prominent talent is necessary to interest employers; if they’re not a financial wizard, a captivating speaker, or an enticing writer, they fear they are fated for a second-rate career. The power of a highly visible, prominent talent is often overrated. Few jobs exist for its holder to use one single talent. I think it is truer that multiple competencies are necessary in any job for highest-level performance. For example, a project manager might not be an expert at any one thing; but might be competent analyzing data, using computers, researching, managing time, and leading teams. In most cases, the combination of capabilities is more marketable than any single talent could be. This allows you, the job seeker and job holder to maximize as many of your strengths as possible. Fear not being ordinary!
Yes, there are elements of job search that can make you anxious. But that’s adrenaline pumping that can be impetus to embrace the process. Assess yourself, detect the available jobs, profile the desired employers, practice your communications skills, establish a network of helpers, and spend many hours with the people for whom you would like to work with and for. Then, the courtship is the key. The wedding is just the formality.
Photo: Steve Rhodes