Set a Goal, Because If You Don't Know Where You Wont to go, and It Doesn't Matter Where You're Going.
One Day, Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. "Which road do I take?" she asked.
His response was a question; "Where do you want to go?"
"I don't know," Alice answered.
"Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter"
Don't move your body yet. Donít call all your contacts. Don't borrow money. Don't spend money on job-search programs. Don't panic. Just stop.
You need a goal. You need a target. You need to ask some questions of yourself.
Jobs are nothing more than problems being solved. Jobs are formed because of good problems and because of bad problems. For example, a good problem is when a company gets a big new account. The solution to the problem could be increased account-management jobs. On the other hand, the mountain of toxic waste produced and stockpiled today is an example of a bad problem. One solution is the creation of new companies, and hence new jobs, to carry out proper disposal of hazardous waste.
Find a Problem that concerns you. You'll find a job right behind it. Make a list of problems that concern you. These problems can be local, regional, national, or global. Put some thought into this.
List as many of your interests and concerns about the world around you as you can. By doing so you have already narrowed down areas that you know will be fulfilling. Now, can any of your skills, aptitudes, or abilities contribute to the solutions of these problems?
If the answer is yes, you now have a job target! Perhaps you'll need specialized schooling. Or perhaps youíll have to start at the bottom and work your way into the field. But at least you'll have some goals.
And goals motivate. Motivation gives momentum. And momentum will bring you forward into an array of foreseeable and unforeseeable opportunities. Begin!
Winning Move #2:
Don't depend on the rabbit's foot in the job search game-remember, it didn't work for the rabbit.
Why do I call something as serious as a job search a game? Because it has rules and it requires concentration, forethought, strategies, dedication, and drive. And because you can win or lose, depending on how you play. There are good jobs and bad jobs everywhere. If you play the game well, chances are you will get one of the good ones. If you donít play well-if you rely on luck-chances are you will get one of the not-so-good ones.
In a job search you are facing one of the great challenges of your life. The choice of approach and attitude is all yours. You can look at this as either a game-a challenge to conquer-or as a long, laborious, stressful, and depressing experience. You can look at it as an opportunity to travel a path of great resistance, confusion, and uncertainty, and succeed. Or you can look at the job search as one with bad odds, depressing circumstances, and not much future.
Take your choice. It's all yours. If youíve bought this book you're already ahead of your fellow job seekers. If you follow the moves, you'll win the game.
Winning Move #3:
Win Yourself Over by Knowing the Odds Are with You.
Getting the job you want is indeed very possible and probable. You will win because, believe it or not, the odds are with you. When you understand and believe this, your attitude will be one of anticipated success, not failure. You'll believe in yourself, not the other person. To prospective employers, you'll radiate confidence, not uncertainty or pessimism. People will want to get you, not want to get rid of you.
Here is today's situation:
- The employment rate is 92 percent. Only 8 percent of us are unemployed. That means your odds are 92 out of 100, where else do you get those kinds of odds?
- America is bursting with smaller, growing companies with job opportunities. In fact, in 1993, the vast majority of the hiring in America was done by companies with fewer than 20 employees! Donít think of big companies as your best or only source of jobs. Weíve all heard of the Fortune 500 corporations, yet what most job seekers donít realize is that there are more than 15 million other companies in America!
- There are 3 million new jobs added to the U.S. labor force every year, and the labor force is shrinking! America is graying.
- People are staying healthy and living longer, causing more need for products and services, and hence more jobs. Right now there are 60 million Americans over the age of 50, and they control more than half of our country's assets and discretionary income. This population, soon to be combined with a large, retiring baby-boomer group, will dramatically increase the need for products and services (read: jobs) over the next 20 years. And who will supply that need? Who will fill those jobs? Only a meager work force resulting from the baby bust of the late 60s and 70s. Again, good odds!
We all do. A heart surgeon has value and gets fulfillment by fixing people's hearts to prolong life. A school crossing guard has value keeping precious children safe from accidents, allowing them a prolonged life. Our value comes from our ability to contribute, at the level that's best matched with our knowledge, skills, aptitudes, and interests. So we all have value. And society has need; increasing need.
The Odds Are That You Are Marketable
If you have value and there is a market, then you are market able. It's just as simple as that.
Winning Move #4:
Understand that Most of your "Competition'' is totally out to Lunch, it's You, Youíve Got to Beat. We have met the enemy, and it is us!
Will your job search be successful? Once youíve won yourself over, all that's left is the competition. Let's look them over; your competition is largely untrained, unskilled, uneducated, and poorly equipped for job seeking. Your competition takes many wrong turns, wastes time, broods, wallows in self-pity, and lowers their sights. Your competition waits for opportunities, rather than making them happen. Like lemmings, they wait or just follow, accepting what's doled out to them-blindly heading toward the cliffs and the crash.
Why, they're hardly competitors at all! So let's forget about them, and concentrate on ourselves.
Winning Move #5:
Win the Job You Want by Becoming an Actor, a Sleuth, and a Salesman
Winning means becoming a versatile player to win the right job, at times you'll need to play the roles of actor, sleuth, and salesman. You will need to act confident when you're not, uncover information about people and companies, and sell a very important product-yourself.
If you feel you're not innately one of these characters, don't worry. I'm not asking you to be a good actor, just to act. I'm not asking you to be Sherlock Holmes, just a basic investigator. I'm not asking you to be Zig-ziglar, just to apply some of the basic tenets of sales to sell something you know better than anyone else-yourself. So, in this time of job seeking you'll be changing roles in time of need, like Clark Kent in the phone booth. By playing these roles with commitment, you'll have made a job-winning move.
Success in any job search requires motivational, marketing, and sales skills. Designed with that in mind, this book is broken up into sections titled Motivating Yourself, Marketing Yourself, and Selling Yourself. You're five chapters into the motivating section, so you've already moved forward in your job search. You know you have to set goals. You know you can't rely on luck alone. You know the odds are with you. And you know most of your competitors are out to lunch. And now you know you're going to stay motivated and confident. It's one of your roles.
Now let's keep moving.
Winning Move #6;
Start Looking for Your Next Job the Day You Get Your Present One
There is no job security anymore. Jobs and careers change faster now than ever before. Mergers and acquisitions, changing technologies, and global competition can cause an industry, a company, and its employees to become dinosaurs overnight. We are long past the era when loyalty and good performance ensured job security. This is not to suggest disloyalty to your employer, only to stress that loyalty alone is no longer enough to guarantee your job. So where does job security come from?
Job security comes from taking responsibility for keeping your career as flexible as the times, as attuned to economic and demographic changes as possible. It is up to you to maintain your value in the job market. In the 1950s, 1960s, and even 1970s, an employer took care of this for you, telling you that you needed specialized training in this new area or in that different function. But in this new era of major company downsizing and restructuring, you're often told that your job is eliminated, not that you'll be retrained. So you need to develop contingency plans continually, because your first loyalty has to be to yourself. You cannot ensure your employment with your current employer. There are simply too many factors that are out of your control.
You must be ready to move before your company moves you out. You must maintain value in the marketplace, not just in your company. Your knowledge of where both your company and your industry are headed must always remain on the cutting edge. Don't Be a Rising Star in a Falling Industry-Your Lights Will Go Out.
Follow your industry very closely. Read good trend books and trade magazines for your industry, ones that base their judgments on statistics, demographics, technological changes, and economic needs. How do you find these? A good place to start is your industry association. Every industry of significant size has one or several professional associations serving it. These associations often make it their business to communicate their understanding of where their industry is going,
Go to your town or city library and consult the Encyclopedia of Associations and the Directory of Directories. These publications will take you to your industry associations. Call them. Get their literature. Maybe even join them. Find out which ones keep a pulse on your industry's future. From these associations you'll likely learn of specialized sub-industry publications and associations. You'll learn ahead of time what retraining or specialized experience will be valued in the future. You'll learn which companies, products, or services are likely to be outmoded or in vogue. Then you'll be able to act, rather than react. You'll know ahead of time if your industry value is intact or becoming outmoded.
Keep a proactive, rather than reactive, career management attitude. Be like the surfer. Endeavor to ride the crest of your industry. It's nice up there, up where the view is best and the opportunities are freshest-a place away from the trough. Don't let your career get lost in a world with little horizon, or you could get buried by the next wave of layoffs!
Winning Move #7:
Sell Yourself at Your Level of Competence, Not Below It and Not Above It
Appearing or being told you are overqualified is one of the more frustrating parts of job seeking. Why won't employers believe you when you insist you will be comfortable and productive at the level to which you are applying? Because the employer often has good reason for his feelings. Put yourself in his place. It costs him x number of dollars to advertise for someone. It costs him x number of dollars to train someone. He wants that someone to stay. If prospective employee "A" has a background that shows experience or training above and beyond the level of the available position, the employer is going to assume one of the following:
- "A" is either a person who has had personal problems or on-the-job difficulties (something the employer doesnít want to deal with) and therefore can t get back into the job market at his old level.
- "A" is, for whatever other reason, shooting too low and will soon outgrow the challenge of the available position, become restless, and leave as soon as a job at his level comes along.
At any rate, it's a fact that appearing or being overqualified for a position is a problem. But it is a problem only because the job seeker has not properly targeted his market.
Several years ago I had a client who was a high-level, high-powered corporate attorney in charge of the legal affairs of one of the country's largest insurance companies. His salary was more than $300,000 per year. But that did not make him happy. What made him happy was his family, a group of people he saw only rarely. "It's not worth it. It's not worth any amount of money," he said to me one day. "I might as well be a prisoner who sends big checks to my family from jail. There's really little difference. My family enjoys life and I work."
My client figured he would be a bargain at half his salary (which was all he really needed). Then he could work a normal work week and get a new lease on life. Wrong! Believe it or not, no one wanted to hire someone who was willing to work for half his salary.
No one trusted his reasons. Prospective employers felt there was some other reason for his willingness to relinquish $150,000 per year and much of his power. No one was more surprised about this attitude than my client. His problem, he finally realized, was within himself He drove himself too hard. He set himself up for 100-hour weeks. He wouldn't delegate and relinquish control. Unless he changed, his environment never would.
So how do you handle the situation of being overqualified? The answer is simple: Keep your focus on the highest level of your value and capability. Donít compromise. Put your very best points down on paper, but make that paper land in the hands of the audience that values those points. Find the wrong audience and you will get the wrong reaction. Spend the time to find the best markets, and also search for other markets that value the highest level of your experience, skills, and/or education. Follow the Winning Moves in this book. But don't ever compromise. For example, don't hide your advanced education because you think it will make you look overqualified for the position. You earned these honors. They show your value. Donít lower your level of achievement or number of accomplishments on the job.
If the prospective employer doesn't value your level of training, experience, and/or abilities, then their job is not the job for you. No one has abilities, education, training, or experience that is too good for the job market. There is no ceiling in the job market. The problem, like the problem with my attorney client, is one that lies within the job seeker and his job search, not the job market.
So donít compromise. Compromise yourself and you will com promise your self-esteem. Compromise your self-esteem, and your job performance will be diminished. Diminish your job performance and you will lose the job. Lose the job and you will be back at square one, wondering why you took a job that was beneath you in the first place!