As a business and career coach, I run into so many different people every day. I attend conferences and events, I run workshops and webinars, and I host team masterminds for all types of professionals. And guess what? When I talk to the unemployed, I've heard all the excuses why you don't have a job. Here are the top ten realities of your job search today:
1. You're waiting for the phone to ring or the limo to pull up to your house and whisk you off to your new position.
This is my #1 pet peeve when I host job-search workshops. People say they are busy, they're sending out resumes, but the reality is they are mentally waiting for a knight in shining armor to whisk them away to a new cushy position. Guest what . . . it's never going to happen. NEVER.
Unless you're a recently fired CEO with massive connections to firms who want to hire you and subsequently ruin their company, no one is going to call and no one is driving up with a black stretch limo. Once you realize you are on your own and only YOU can change your situation, it's time for a mental ass-kick to get your head on straight.
What To Do: You want an mental ass-kick? Start listening to motivational speakers to keep your mental energy level up and constant. Check out Zig Ziglar, Dale Carnegie, Jeffrey Gitomer, and my favorite Bennie Hsu at Get Busy Living Podcast. He's the best!
2. You rarely go out.
You get up at 9 AM, you probably don't take a shower, you get dressed in your old geriatric Adidas sweatsuit, and sit in front of your laptop. WRONG!
What To Do: Get up at 5 AM, go for a walk/run outside, take a shower, and get dressed in real clothes. You don't like it? TOUGH. This is your workday and for the next 8-10 hours, I am your drill sergeant and you will deliver 110% looking for a job every Monday through Friday. Set up a schedule which takes you outside every single day. Meet people for coffee, hit the library, go to the gym, walk around the park. Strike up conversations with people — you never know who you will meet.
3. You check the web for postings, send out a few resumes, and watch Ellen, Rachael, and Jerry the rest of the day.
Unemployment is not a vacation. You have to attack your job search like any project you've ever delivered at work.
What To Do: You have to:
- Focus on the marketplace - What companies are doing well? Where are the growth areas? Who are the movers and shakers?
- Analyze your attributes against your competition - Do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis on YOU. Figure out how you leverage your strengths and opportunities.
- Develop key targets to go after - Analyze your commuting radius, find out all the potential industries and organizations within your circle, and begin to make a hit list.
- Execute - Go after each one incrementally in a cascade pattern to ensure you are not inundated with tasks, but your search is progressing in a healthy fashion.
4. Your industry has changed.
You actually thought people were going to buy slide-rules FOREVER. Yes, that's right, you're industry is changing. And guess what? Everyone's industry is changing. Some are morphing into other forms, some are merging, many are shrinking, and a lot are just plum going out of business. If you thought you could keep your job or profession for 30 years, I have a DeLorean to sell you.
What To Do: Figure out where your industry is going and either stick around for the very bumpy ride or jump off at the station for the next train. Get to thee library, my dear young minstrel and start understanding what is really happening in the marketplace. Read the WSJ, Medium, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, Inc, and Foundr. Also meeting with industry luminaries doesn't hurt either.
5. You're too old.
Where did the time go? You were having so much fun as an executive in a corner office working on strategy and mergers, you never saw the axe coming for you until it was too late. Now you're 55 and no one wants you. Let me rephrase that — no 20-year old in HR wants you. The minute they do the college graduate math in their head (or on their calculator), your résumé is flying faster than a 767 into the circular file. And the funny thing is you keep doing it.
What To Do: Stop repeating something which doesn't work and expecting something different. You have to get out of the HR/Recruiter trap and move up the ladder and meet/engage/schmooze the hiring managers. Go to industry events, reach out to them via LinkedIn/Twitter, and google their name to get to know them. Then reach out and try to meet them.
6. You're too young.
Where did the time go? You were just in college wowing them with your 4.0 GPA and now no one will take your calls because you have no experience.
What To Do: It's time for you to get some experience! You need to call in every chip on the poker table of life and have them connect you with possible paid intern/entry level positions. Let's get real — you might have a little bit of knowledge, but your don't have the experience to hit deadlines consistently, run a meeting, handle an angry client, manage a boss, or run a complex project. You have to take a small hit position/salary-wise and build up those talents before you really hit the big leagues of life.
7. You're unrealistic about your position and your salary.
"Look, I was Vice President of Strategic Initiatives with a yearly base salary of $275K. Why doesn't anyone want me?"
What To Do: There are a finite number of positions out there which might fit your position/salary requirements, but you will never find them in time. I know, you might run into them, but most likely, NOT. You have to be a bit flexible on the Who/What/Where/How Much in the current marketplace. Try to broaden your scope and see what else is out there. It might not be a VP position, or one drowning in strategy. It might be a bit lower than $275K a year — but then again, it's higher than the $0/year you're pulling in now (great tax benefits though).
8. You have a glass-half-empty mentality.
No one likes a whiner. I just spoke with a prospect this week who could not stop talking about all the bad bosses and decisions they've made in the past 10 years. The first rule of your job search: Never, ever, say bad things about your past. Not only does it cloud anyone's opinion of you, it brings your mental state down into the basement.
What To Do: Start imagining what life would be like if you had that wonderful position RIGHT NOW. Where would you be? Who would you be working with? What would you be doing? How would you get there. Stop thinking and feeling guilty about the past and start preparing for your glorious future. Get your head half-full immediately.
9. You're afraid of Thinking Big and reaching out to the real power-brokers.
No one is going to think big for you (except me). You hamstring your search and actions by being risk-averse. You're afraid of rejection and will never put yourself in a position of actually touching key movers and shakers in your industry. No . . . you will continue to interview with 20-year-old HR reps who text more than they think and wonder why you don't have a killer position.
What To Do: Get a piece of paper and write down what would be your PERFECT job. Now actualize it in your universe — find those companies who fit the bill and reach out to the key people who run those positions. The funny thing is . . . these same people are always on the lookout for new talent. You're just not putting yourself onto their radar.
10. You've given up.
You've tried again and again to get a job offer, an interview or even a solid connection and it seems the cards are stacked against you. It's been years since you've worked and you're draining your savings account to keep your household afloat.
What To Do: You can always try again. Take a different tack, work on an alternate strategy, reach out to new people. In fact, I just worked with a client who was unemployed for two years and within three months, he had a number of offers and took an incredible job. You never know where your next break will occur.
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