"Today is the first day of the rest of your life." You have read that before. But if you want job power, you need to know that an employer can buy only your future, and pay for it on the installment basis by the week or month.
When the employer reads a job application, gives you an interview, inquires about you, he's looking for reliable clues to your future. He's asking in what ways are you likely to be dependable in your performance. All the time the em¬ployer is guessing at your future.
You know more than the employer does about your-self. But you have been trained by certain traditions to avoid being aware of the knowledge you have. You have been trained to give limited information about yourself. You have been trained into certain habits of learning that usually hide good opportunities from you, and also prevent employers from using your best skills and talents.
If employers want to use your future, then you need to know which of your skills are likely to help you achieve in the future, help you to grow, help you to enjoy life. When you have that knowledge, you have job power. When you have that knowledge, and can prove your potential, em¬ployers often become willing to create opportunities for you because you are taking most of the guesswork out of hiring.
By the time a young man or woman is eighteen it is possible to identity the pattern of reliable skills that will help you have future achievements, future growth, future fulfillments. [We, the authors, have been helping young and older persons to gain this knowledge and these benefits for more than thirty years, and we have helped many thou¬sands of them.
From our experiences we can say you must beware of traditional job finding systems and people who endorse them. The old systems are primarily responsible for over 20% unemployment rate among young men and women; for millions unemployed; for many millions more who have become discouraged and dropped out of the job market, and countless millions who are frus¬trated in their jobs. You'll see the evidence of this later.
The time for you to take charge of your future is now. And you can. The steps in this book are simple. They require hard and persevering work for a short time, but it will be worthwhile. A few facts will show why giving that time will be to your advantage. Then you will take the first steps to getting job power now.
Government reports show that in the 1980's most young men and women entering the job market will change jobs 12 to 15 times during their working lives, and change careers possibly five times. A high proportion of these changes will be accompanied by unemployment or time out for retraining and education. And much of that training and education will prepare persons for jobs they neither enjoy nor do very well.
Another fact is that about ten years from now nearly half the working population will be in jobs that have not yet been invented.
These facts about job changing, career changing and the invention of new types of jobs are important for you to know. They make it clear that traditional job application forms which list education, work history, and experience provide facts that usually mislead employers who are trying to identify a person's potential.
Here are some facts that would ordinarily appear on a job application form that Alice would fill out if she were looking for a job in the traditional way: Work experience-none; hobbies—track; scholastic standing—junior high honors student. That's about it! But our systematic ap¬proach reveals that Alice has little time for involvement in anything else, because both her parents work at modest jobs and she cooks dinners for the family of seven—and has done that virtually every day for three years. She plans and organizes meals, schedules her time and the cooking, com¬pletes the job daily to the point of washing the dishes and putting them away. On the track team she attends practice daily for two hours, on Saturday three hours, has been on time for more than sixty practices—except for the day she had to take care of a sick sister. In her studies her best sub¬ject is English and her compositions are often read to the class. Traditional job application forms and interviews do not invite these other facts. She would be put down as "inexperienced."
Instead of filling out job applications she now gives employers a unique Job Power report, which you will learn in this book to write for yourself. Her Job Power Report says something like this: "I have beginning skills in starting and finishing short-term tasks, being dependably on time, learning quickly, cooperating with other people, following instructions, writing clearly, and planning and organizing my work. I can prove these if you will ask me questions about them."
You know what happened when she showed her Job Power Report to a few people in business? They recommended her for interviews with others, and one of them said: "We don't have a job open right now, but we can find work for someone like you to do until a regular job opens up." A job opening was created there and then because the employer did not have to guess at the skills he was hiring. She made it possible for him to create a job where there was no job.
Everyone has some kind of excellence, and nearly everyone has what are called hidden talents or skills. Here is another example you will appreciate, even though it is outside your experience. It demonstrates what young per¬sons are up against when looking for jobs. But it comes from a project designed to help older men and women sup¬ported by welfare funds, people who hadn't worked in a long time and were in the "dead files" of a State agency as unemployable.
At age 48, Joe Pencil said he had dropped out of high school after one year and worked since then as an extermi-nator. His last job had ended a year ago. Using the system described in this book we got him to tell us that he "invented a box" that amplified the sounds of termites chewing on woodwork; that he made the first crystal radio set in his home town when he was eight, and then made fif¬ty or sixty more for people who brought him the parts. "They all worked", he said. He could fix any kind of radio, and occasionally made and installed hi-fi sets for friends who would give him a few meals. Then we challenged him on working with TV sets.
"You got me there," he said, "because I can't read and so I can't use the TV manuals. But I do know the in-sides of six sets; them's what my friends got, and they trust me."
We asked him if he'd like to try for a job as an elec-tronics technician, and he replied: "How could I? I ain't got no experience."
This is a man who worked with electronic systems be¬cause he loved doing it, not for pay. And there's no room on job application forms for things you do well because you love doing them. After we trained him how to avoid em¬ployment offices, how to create job contacts and how to offer his potential, he got a job in two weeks at double his former rate of pay. Nine months later he'd been given three pay increases, had learned to read and write, and was having a ball at his work as an electronics technician.
These two examples show there is something seriously wrong with traditional systems that prevent people from be-coming aware of the skills they already possess, and also make it necessary for employers to guess—and often guess badly—at the skills of job applicants of all ages.
About one person in seven really knows, by age 18, what kind of job or career is right for him or her. The other six needlessly face job frustrations throughout their lives, job frustrations and stresses that lead to sickness and poor productivity—just the things that employers and employees do not want.
Traditional Putdowns For Job Seekers
High school and junior college graduates looking for jobs frequently face this traditional putdown: "You have no experience."
Even if you've never worked for money, that kind of statement is not true. The problem here is how can you relate your studies, your hobbies and sports activities, the things you do at home, with your friends, with a community or church group, or even on your own with the world of work. You've already seen how one student, Alice, over came this.
"Just fill out our application form, and we'll call you when something opens up." Variations on that statement include "We don't have anything right now, but if you'll fill out this form Mr. Jones will be glad to interview you." Al¬most always this is a polite invitation to waste your time fill¬ing out a form that ends up in the wastebasket; or waste it plus the time it takes for Mr. Jones to reach the point where he says there aren't many jobs around, but he'll call you when one opens up for a person with your skills.
You've been told many times that you must fill out ap-plication forms if you really want to get a job. But it's not true. When you use the systems in this book, you won't fill out another application form or wait for another interview unless there is a job available that will use your unique potential.
By now you're wondering if we are dealing with reality. But after you read about the job finding system given in this book, you'll see that we've got something special going for you—something very different from what you have been taught is possible.
You know that the traditional systems for getting em-ployment are not working for millions of men, women and youth. Here in 1980 nearly 22% of white young men and women and 40% of blacks under 20 are unemployed. Gearly, the traditional system is not working very well, and conditions are worse than they have been for 40 years.
We know what you're up against, because our back-grounds include nontraditional and highly successful edu-cation and experience. Of course, we've had the usual kinds of jobs—personnel, religious organization, govern¬ment, education, big and small industry, professional jobs, general laboring types of work like typing, apple picking, road construction, clearing tables and mopping floors in cafeterias.
We are concerned here with helping you to beat, overcome, get around the traditional obstacles to job finding. You'll find no magic here. Hard and enjoyable work is necessary to make the job finding systems in this book work. You will learn how to unlock your potential, release it from the shackles of traditional thinking in ways that give you power to know your identity and be your real and best self more of the time. You will stop being restricted by antiquated concepts which enable Dr. Margaret Mead to say that people rarely apply more than ten percent of their potential.
When you use the systems in this book a substantial number of persons will want to create job openings for you, and many will. You will also, very likely, become a member of a Job Cooperative—a group of young people who help each other solve job finding and career planning problems. On your own, or with the aid of other Co-op members, you will create an army of job contacts—people who will quietly recommend you for the kinds of jobs you want. And in this Co-op you will practice how to be effec¬tive at job interviews, help each other to overcome limita¬tions, even give each other job leads. We'll also be telling you, later, that you should NOT go around asking for a job; but we'll be giving you an effective substitute system.
Your Job Powers
Let's begin the task of identifying your greatest job powers. Okay? Keep in mind that the knowledge you gain will give .yon control of your own growth and development. Sometimes the steps will seem like others you've heard be¬fore, but you'll soon find out that they lead to different results. If you're normal you'll resist this work of getting to know yourself; but if you're patient and work at it in several periods you'll find substantial rewards.
You will need to do things on your own, but you will find it very helpful to do many of the tasks in this book with several other young men and women (four or five). If you do it on your own, just work from the book. If you are working with a small group, you will either want a leader to read out the instructions or another book or two—along with large career journal notebooks for writing in.
Because you are looking for strengths within you, you should examine experiences that surely used those strengths. Start thinking of experiences when you feel you did something well that you also enjoyed doing. Call these experiences "Achievements." Remember, an Achievement is something you feel you did well (what counts is your feel¬ing about it, not what you think someone else might have felt), and something you enjoyed doing. It need not be con¬nected with work, though it could be associated with work, hobbies, school, family, social, community or church life, friends, even reading and playing games. In the space that follows, write down the Achievement that first comes to your mind.
Put your age when it happened alongside that experience.
Now remember back as far as you can to another achievement experience. Try to reach back to before you were ten, or even before age five.
Write down two of your earliest achievements in the following spaces, giving your approximate ages at those times.
If you are with a group, stop now and share one of those two earliest achievements. Take turns in saying, in just a few words, what the achievement was.
It is important for you to be aware not only that you achieved something at a very early age—even if it was only the first time you put on your shoes yourself—but also that each other person is an early achiever.
Now, write down an achievement experience you had during the last two or three years, giving your age at that time. Here's space for it.
If you have followed these instructions, you will have stimulated your memory over the range of your life, but with emphasis on special kinds of experiences— Achievements.
We know you have been taught to learn from your mistakes, to find out what you did wrong and "never do that again." What we are aiming at is to help you find out what you did right and enjoyed, so you can identity your own formula to help you have more of these experiences.
The next thing to do is to write down short descrip¬tions of a dozen or more Achievement experiences you have had in the spaces that follow. You already have writ¬ten down a couple you could include, so start by writing them down first. They can be in any order; they do not have to be remembered and written down according to your age, and you don't need to list your age at the time of each experience. If you have a little trouble remembering, try to think of a couple for each two or three years of your life—but you'll find they occasionally bunch up in one year or two. Write them down as you think of them; don't worry about how important they might seem to anyone else, because you won't tell others about any you don' t want to share.
Now you need to go through another kind of choosing process. It will help you to appreciate and understand yourself better. Take your time, and simply place a check against the seven achievements you feel have been most important to you. Make those checks now!
Next, number these seven in order of their impor-tance to you: No. 1 is the Achievement you feel has been of greatest importance of all to you; No. 2 is the one you feel has been of second greatest importance, and so on. When you do it, your mind will be concentrating on what you did on those different occasions, how you did them, what the outcomes were, who—if anyone—was affected besides yourself, where you were, and perhaps why and when. A lot of the detail of those experiences will flow through your mind, and this will help you to perceive some of your de¬pendable strengths, your job powers. As you follow through the steps given, inner strengths you have will become more clear. So now, number those seven checked Achievements in order of their relative importance to you. Later on, if you want to, you can change the numbering, just as you can change the ones you checked originally.
By doing this you are NOT fixing yourself forever. It's as if you are looking at the stars, a compass, and a clock on one of the great oceans to find out where you are at the present moment in your journey. When you know where you are, you are free to change your course. But if you don't know where you are, you cannot know what to steer for; you cannot know how to get to where you want to go.
We said before that you can take the steps given in this book on your own, but that you will find it especially helpful if you are part of a small group. If there are sev-eral of you doing this you will finish at different times, but be patient because you will soon be helping each other dis-cover some overlooked skills.
For the next step you will need your Career Journals. As much as possible you want to be able to see in writing the skills you used to make each of your top seven Achievements happen. Do this in the order in which you numbered them. Begin with number one, the greatest of all your achievements, and write down what you did to make it happen. What were your activities? Did you read, write, speak, play, run, use tools, travel, relate with some¬one else, compete, study and take an exam, learn a lan-guage? Whatever your activities were, write them down in a description of what you did when you were having that achievement experience. Leave a two-inch margin on the Journal page where you write.
In your Journal, write "Achievement No. 1, Descrip¬tion." Then go on to write the description of what you did to make it happen. Don't give reasons; just write down your activities. When you have done that, go to the next page and do the same for Achievement No. 2, and so on with the other five. You will need about an hour, perhaps longer, so this might be a good time to take a break while you remember about what happened and write down those descriptions. (Members of your group could complete this task at home; but before you break up settle on a time for getting together again. You will need each other at the next meeting.)
At this point we have to give you two sets of instruc¬tions. The first is for your small group or Job Cooperative; the second is for you if you are working on your own. In the small group, you will be able to help each other reach out and become aware of more skill areas to explore. You will also get to know each other in a more understanding way, and probably come to have greater respect for each other's uniquenesses and skills.
With a Group
With a felt-tip marker or crayon, write on a large sheet of paper a very brief outline of the top five of your seven greatest Achievements. If you feel that one is too personal to discuss with the others, substitute another top one.
With those Achievement summaries written, decide quickly which one of you will start as Upfronter in the Skills Affirmation process. You will each do it in turn. The Upfronter reads his or her No. 1 Achievement sum¬mary, then reads slowly the description given in the Jour¬nal. Others listen carefully, and write down on a page (headed by the Upfronter's name) the skills they feel that Achievement experience must have used or applied. The listeners have to guess at these skills, so in part it is a lis-tening and a guessing effort.
If a listener wants more detail in order to be a better guesser at the skills used, the listener asks for more detail: "What did you do to make that happen?" The listener should not ask "why" questions. Listeners are trying to "see" the skills used, not trying to "psych-out" the Upfronter.
After each reading of an Achievement description, the Upfronter asks if anyone wants more details. This is necessary because when we write down things for ourselves we frequently use a kind of shorthand that doesn't tell the whole story to another person. The extra bits of informa¬tion permit the listeners to see more skills, and knowledge of these can be helpful to the Upfronter.
When the Upfronter finishes detailing his five great-est Achievements, listeners take turns in reading off the skills they have written down. Then each one gives that written list to the Upfronter.
The Upfronter thanks them for their work, and com-ments on how he feels about that Upfront experience.It is certain that many of the skills written down were used, and also that some errors were made by the others in guessing which skills were used. The Upfronter must later work out which skills were really used. Another thing is sure: listeners are likely to suggest some skills that the Upfronter might have overlooked, and also will not have included some of the skills most obvious to the Upfronter. After all, the listeners are not experts; their special help¬fulness is in influencing the Upfronter to do a more care¬ful job of being aware of the skills in his Achievements, and also in affirming him as a specially skilled person— which each person is.
Here are some examples of Achievement experiences, and a few of the skills they show.
(NOTE: Not all skills are listed. Even if you had the same type of experience you could describe it differently and be using different skills.)
Some Skills/ Talents Shown
Being a messenger in a hos-pital. When a nurse or doctor wanted something taken to another part of the hospital or to someone else, I was trusted to get it done.Reliable person Observant (finds her way around)
- Memory (remembers what she is told)
- Physical activity (moves around)
- Medical environment skill
- Good with people
Machine operator: ran an elec¬tric mimeograph machine. Put the stencil on the drum, stacked the paper right, inked the machine, adjusted it to run straight, then got the job done.
Completes a job given to him Good organizer Neat in arranging things Maybe some mechanical ability (Perhaps independent worker talent)
Elected President of class. I talked to other students, won their votes. I said I would help when they had troubles with teachers, and make sure that there was a class dance.
Twenty-four of my drawings were displayed in a high school exhibit. Some were heads of people and animals, some were sketches of fashions. In color, as well as black and white.
Some leadership talent Some showmanship Talking ability Some salesmanship Good memory Problem solver, maybe Good with people Artistic talent Fashion talent Observant Showmanship Independent worker Color skill Learning to cook. My first meal was for five of us, and everyone said it was good. I did everything—bought vegetables and meat, prepared and cooked it, set up the table, served everything, and cleaned up afterwards.
Orderly in doing things
Finishes the job started
likes to serve others
Perhaps some homemaking talent
Teachers' aide. When the teacher was out I kept order in the class. Sometimes I would read to the class. I passed out things and kept the board clean and collected things for the teacher.
Working in the science lab. Cut up frogs and made slides that I looked at through the microscope. Teacher said I was very good at that.
Good reader and speaker
Showmanship (likes to be in front)
Perhaps some leadership
Skillful with hands Very clean and orderly Color skill (to notice things on slide)
Memory (remembered instruc-tions) Patient and careful
On Your Own
If you are doing this on your own, you will need to open your notebook to your Greatest Achievement de-scription pages. Start by reading your No. 1 Achievement. Then write down in the two-inch margin the skills you be-lieve you must have used to make it happen. Read the Achievement over again, and try to ask yourself some questions aimed at bringing out more details of what you did—so you can add more skills to your list. Because you are not an expert at this, you will also overlook some of the skills which should be listed.
Go through the same process with each of the other six—read the Achievement description, write down skills you feel you must have used. Read it again, this time with the idea of trying to ask yourself for more details that could reveal more skills you used. Add those to your list.
This way you end up with seven skills lists.
Now you have started to clarify what's right with you. Perhaps you have begun to see a few skills and conditions that are repeatedly associated with your different Achieve-ments. More clarification is needed, sharper knowledge of your skills pattern must be acquired.
Let's look at what has happened so far. You (and maybe some friends) have reversed the traditional ap¬proach of getting to know yourself. Instead of trying to find out what's wrong with you, so you can avoid repeat¬ing mistakes, you have begun to learn what is right with you so you can see how to do things right, in your own way, again and again. Instead of looking for your weak-nesses, you have explored experiences to find your strengths, the strengths that can help you overcome and cope with problems. You have begun to get a handle on the skills and talents potential employers are looking for in young men and women.