“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
~ Calvin Coolidge
I have a four-year-old English Cocker—a 25-pound black bundle of energy named Ted, who is absolutely confident that the world revolves around him. Although there are many facets of his personality that I love, perhaps the most endearing are his zest for having fun wherever he is and his “doggedness” aka single-mindedness in going after what he wants.
And what Ted wants most often is rocks. At our lake place, he is able to run; he gathers them freely, hoarding them in his favorite spot. When outside at our home place, he is in a large steel-wire kennel surrounded by landscaping rocks. There is just enough room underneath so that he can extend his paws out to try and capture those rocks. And try he does! He is only out there to “take care of business” (from my perspective), but his focus is to reach and paw at those rocks with the goal of getting them into the kennel (and into his mouth for chewing). His paws are only so-so dexterous; he waves and scrapes, often pushing the rocks farther out than in. Like the Energizer bunny, he “keeps going and going and going”. He often sits back and just stares at those rocks; then he pounces again. Sometimes he gets one; often he does not. I know that next time he’ll try again; he always does. And he has a growing pile of “treasures” as a result.
The point here is that in the job search, there are goals that seem to be out of reach for one reason or another. Often obstacles can be the incentive to push through barriers, whether self-imposed or dictated elsewhere. There will be bumps in the road in your search! Expect it, and welcome it as preparation for the adventure that lies ahead. To Ted, each rock out there is a new quest!
In her book, Job Search Magic, Susan Britton Whitcomb speaks of persistence as the key to success. She says, “It trumps circumstances and motivates you to overcome whatever might be lacking in your candidacy. Persistence is initiative in action. It chooses wisely and takes action, especially during rough times.” Susan further challenges us to use different language when thinking about the “turbulence” in our careers and lives. It’s real to be sure. If we change our language and ways of thinking to describe it, however, it can take on a whole new perspective. Instead of thinking in terms of a “setback” or “problem,” it can be reframed, in Susan’s words, to a “place of possibility.” She offers a checklist of personal and professional assessment. See which of these might relate to you. If there are others not mentioned here, jot them down.
Personal “Places of Possibility”
- Not enough time
- Lack of focus
- Limited finances
- Family commitments that prevent me from devoting more time to my career
- Lack of support and fear of criticism from family members, friends, or colleagues
- Lack of confidence
- Too shy or embarrassed to ask for help
- Too independent or overconfident to think I need help
Professional “Places of Possibility”
- Frustrated by too many (or too few) options
- Unsure of the best job search process
- Not enough contacts in my target field
- Missing the “right” experience
- Lack the right degree or training
- Skeletons in my career closet
- Relocating to a new area where I do not know anyone
Take inventory of your job-search roadblocks. If it’s time, how can you rework your calendar and carve out hours? If it’s confidence, can you gather a support team to encourage you and hold you accountable? If you’re unsure of process or have career skeletons, check out a qualified career coach or your local workforce center. Do a self-assessment of what you want and then research the market to find out where there are gaps. If you lack the right skill sets or degree for your targeted job(s), where can you get your foot in the door for that experience? Would this be a good time to take some classes towards a degree, certification or to simply obtain new knowledge? How can you expand your network? Can you sharpen your interview skills? Do you have an action plan that includes a Plan B and even C?
Once you know what you want and have found where it is (jobs/employers), go get it! If the fit isn’t there, what new fit can you make? The job search is about meeting people. Take the power in your job hunt; it’s yours unless you give it away. Brush up on your skills, fine tune your résumé and marketing documents, research the market, devise a search strategy, take care of your network, manage your reputation, and keep on keeping on!
We are all well served to be persistent in our pursuit of personal and career success. We must be aware of the opportunities and the challenges looming in our future. Then we must position ourselves to our best advantage. Like Ted, when seemingly overwhelming obstacles cause you to step back, pounce again and keep pawing away.
“Courage is being afraid but going on anyhow.”
~ Dan Rather