Being selfish and 3 other tips for your job search

For job seekers who are being held back in their search for employment, understand that nothing should hold you back from doing what’s necessary.

Selfish job search

After sitting with a client to talk about her job search and realizing she wasn’t allowed to conduct it the way she had to, I lectured her on how nothing should impede her progress. She was surprised by my stern voice, but I think she got the message.

We often think of the job search as consisting of writing our marketing documents, preparing for interviews, networking, and using LinkedIn. But there are intangible factors that need to be considered by the job seeker; the first of which is being selfish. Maybe this isn’t the optimal word, but it comes down to demanding the time you need to conduct a successful job search.

Being selfish (demand the time you need)

This is one of the messages I impart to my Introduction to the Job Search workshop attendees. I tell them, “OK, I need to tell you something; and I want you to listen.”  And for effect I pause to make sure all eyes are on me. They must think I’m going to say something brilliant, but what I tell them is:

In your job search, you can’t let anyone get in your way of looking for a job. You can’t let anyone tell you to watch the kids or grandchildren. You can’t let anyone tell you to do some errands that will take up your whole day. No home projects, unless the pipes have burst. Do you get what I mean?

Almost everyone of my attendees nod in agreement; some lower their head and look at the desk. After another moment of pause, I tell them that there are other things to consider when they’re conducting their job search. Things other than their résumé and interviewing skills.  

Show a positive attitude

Throughout your job search, it’s important to display a positive attitude. The operative word is “display.” I’m not going to preach the importance of feeling positive and all happy inside. I’ve been unemployed and know how it sucks, so how you feel is really a personal matter.

I am, however, advising you to appear positive. This begins with the way you dress for the day. Because it is entirely possible that you may run into someone who may have the authority to hire you or know someone who has the authority to hire you, it’s important that you are dressed well. Not to the 9’s mind you, but certainly not in sweat pants and a Tee-shirt.

Other ways to show a positive attitude have more to do with your behavior, such as suppressing anger, wearing a friendlier countenance, making an attempt to be more outgoing, and (this is tough) not showing your desperation.

One of my customers comes across as angry. He always mentions how long he’s been out of work when asked to talk about himself, a no-no when asked to explain the value you present to employers. (This also applies to your presence on LinkedIn.)

Be dedicated to your job search, but don’t burn out

If you’re going to demand the time it takes to conduct your job search, you have to show your loved ones that you are serious about your job search; not rising late, lounging in you pajamas, watching Ellen, going out with the buds at night, etc.

How can you rightfully deny those around you who need your assistance when they don’t see any effort from you? You can’t. They don’t see any dedication in the job search from you, so naturally they’ll want you to pull your weight in other ways.

I ask my customers how many hours they worked a week when employed. Most of them report more than 40 hours. I then ask them if they need to dedicate this much time to their job search–to which they say yes.

To their surprise, I disagree with them. Twenty-five to 30 hours a week is plenty, I tell them. Any more than this may lead to burn out. I say look smarter, not harder. But looking smarter requires a well thought-out plan.

Have a plan 

The best way to strive toward a goal is by creating a Career Action Plan (CAP) and following it as closely as you can. Sure there will be times when you slip and miss a date or change your plan around. This should not discourage you and cause you to abandon your plan. Your plan may look similar to this:

  1. Early-morning: take a walk or go to the gym, then eat breakfast.
  2. Mid-morning: attend a networking group, or go to workshops at your local career center.
  3. Noon: gather with some networking buddies for lunch (you can write these lunches off).
  4. Mid-afternoon: Volunteer at an organization where you’re utilizing your skills and learning new ones.
  5. Evening: eat dinner with family or friends.
  6. Early-evening: use LinkedIn to connect with more people.

Note: Your activities will vary from day to day, and you may include other activities, such as meeting with recruiters or using job boards or going door-to-door and dropping off a résumé (yes, this works); but the outline is similar.

When you show those around you your CAP they’ll realize you’re serious about your job search and will most likely encourage you to follow through with your objectives. Keep them updated during your week to show them your progress, or post it on the refrigerator. Most importantly you’ll feel better about your job search, especially if you’re meeting the majority of your objectives.

Back to my client

Being selfish…I mean demanding time for their job search…is difficult for some folks, who feel the need to be of help to others before helping themselves. But it’s a necessary component of a successful job search . Of course I stress to my workshop attendees the importance of supporting those around them when they have spare time…but only when they have spare time.

Photo: Flickr, bm_adverts

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