Monthly Archives: May 2017

The Prey Defines the Hunt

At one end of the spectrum are jobs that require a person to think on their feet, to be creative, adaptive, articulate, persuasive, engaging, and to show initiative.  On the other end of the spectrum are jobs that are mundane, routine, rote, repetitive, tedious, monotonous, dull and boring.  Jobs at either end are hard.  Jobs in the middle are hard.  It’s just a different kind of difficult.  Spending 8 hours a day repeatedly asking the same questions like “Paper or plastic?” or “Would you like fries with that?” is actually really hard – it’s maddening.  The repetitiveness makes it hard.  Spending 8 hours a day trying to come up with the right questions to ask in the right order when preparing for a deposition, or when calling on a new customer is also really hard. The creativity, the analysis, the second-guessing oneself, is all very difficult.  As a colleague of mine is find of saying: “Jobs are hard.  That’s why we call it ‘work’ and not ‘play.'”

In this post I offer the proposition that when you are job hunting, the type of job you are hunting defines the type of hunt in which you should be engaging.  If you want a simple, repetitive job – it doesn’t have to be in fast food or a grocery store – it could be at Google or Apple or Tesla (they have routine jobs too), then you should employ a simple, repetitive job hunting technique.  Such a technique would have a single resume (or maybe just your LinkedIn profile) that you would use for every job that has a one-touch or Easy Apply application.  You wouldn’t waste time tailoring to, or maybe even reading, the job ad – just click and send to as many jobs as possible, repeat, repeat, repeat.  On the other end of the spectrum are jobs that aren’t even advertised, that don’t even exist, for which you have to get an appointment, and then go in and convince the company that they need to fill a job they didn’t know they had, and that you’re the person for that job.  That would be the “Not Easy” button.

Most job hunters employ tactics somewhere between these two extremes.  However, as you tend towards one end or the other, I would suggest your outcomes will also tend toward one end or the other.  Those job hunters who tend to apply to jobs online repetitively are more likely to encounter more rejection, but also when they eventually find employment are more likely to find employment that is less creative in nature.  Job hunters who demonstrate the initiative to network into growing companies in growing industries are more likely to have jobs structured around their skills, or at least be considered ahead of other candidates for more tailored roles.

So here’s the observational ‘anecdata’ I offer to support my hypothesis. I coach a lot of people through career transitions, especially job searches.  I find those who follow a network-heavy approach are more likely to find jobs they find satisfying, tailored to their skills and desires.  I find those that follow an approach that is predominantly job-ad responses have a more difficult, longer time to find employment, and when they eventually do find employment, they are less satisfied, and tend to continue their search or within a year, restart a search.

So why do people not network?

There are 4 actions a candidate can take to find a job.  Three are easy; one is hard.  The hard path is networking, and it requires a candidate to actually demonstrate skills that many people will say they have, and may believe they have, but they actually lack.  These are the ability to think on their feet, to be creative, adaptive, articulate, persuasive, engaging, and to show initiative.

THE 4 Routes

Employers will almost always prefer, and pay more for, candidates who come through the networking gauntlet versus the candidates who just push the “Easy” button.

LinkedIn: Open for Opportunities Setting

It is really important, if you are job searching, that you switch your LinkedIn profile status to “Open” for opportunities.  Do this by (1) going to your little picture in the top right of your LinkedIn Home page and (2) clicking on the drop down arrow next to “Me.”  In the drop down menu under “ACCOUNT” (3) click on ” Settings & Privacy.”  In the new page that opens, locate “Privacy” with a shield in the center and (4) click on that word.  Now in the menu on the left, (5) locate and click on “Job seeking.”  (6) Click on “Let recruiters know you are open to opportunities.”  This should bring you to a page that looks like the one below:

On for 90 More Days

(7) Make sure the button is switched to “Yes.”  Also, note where the green arrow above is pointing.  When you switch to “Yes,” LinkedIn only gives you 90 days before it switches back to “No.”  You should make sure you are checking this frequently to make sure it doesn’t turn to “No.”  In fact, I recommend jumping into this page regularly, and switching it to “No” and then back to “Yes” to reset the 90-day clock.

The Emotional Side of Job Loss

Ron Ashkenas in his article Navigating the Emotional Side of a Career Transition addresses an important aspect of job searching.  Ron takes his discussion in a different direction than I will go in below, so I recommend after reading this blog, you also read his article.

Ron talks about issues encountered by someone making a voluntary job transition after a very long period (37 years) with a single employer. In my experience, this is a very rare event. People who voluntarily leave their employers, usually have a mindset that allows them to do so after much shorter periods, and they do so relatively frequently – so that in a 37 year career, I would expect to have met someone who has done this 5-10 times already. On the other hand, most people who have been stable (stagnant, depending on your perspective) at one company for decades and then find themselves in a career transition, usually are experiencing the event involuntarily. While they may encounter some of the emotions discussed in this article, in my experience advising and coaching job seekers, those emotions are usually trumped by grief.

Job Loss Can Be a Life Shattering Experience

Job Loss Can Be a Life Shattering Experience

There are 5 classic stages of loss and grief.

    1. Denial and Isolation

The first reaction is to deny the reality of the situation. It is a normal reaction to rationalize overwhelming emotions. It is a defense mechanism that buffers the immediate shock. We block out the words and hide from the facts. This is a temporary response that carries us through the first wave of pain. This is why I advise people to not make any decisions – for example regarding severance – the day of the layoff, and perhaps for a few days thereafter.

2. Anger

As the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wane, reality and its pain re-emerge. We may not be ready. The intense emotion is redirected and expressed instead as anger. The anger may be aimed at inanimate objects, complete strangers, friends or family. Anger may be directed at our former co-workers or boss. Rationally, we may know the person is not to be blamed. Emotionally, however, we may resent the person for causing us pain. We feel guilty for being angry, and this can make us more angry.  Remember that job loss can be traumatic for a spouse as well. In some ways their fears may be worse, because they may have no reference point about future career options in your field, and may perceive your prospects to be more bleak than they really are.  For this reason I coach people to find a friend, not a spouse, to vent to during the frustrations that accompany a job search.  It’s a good idea to warn the friend that you need them for this purpose; it will be easier for them to absorb because they are not as tied to the outcome as your spouse.

3. Bargaining

A normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control. This may manifest itself as genuine bargaining – going back to our former employer and asking or begging for the job back, or more rationally, negotiating different, more tailored severance terms to meet your specific needs. It can also appear as preoccupation with “what if” questions – what if I would have taken that transfer 2 years ago? what if I would have gotten that MBA at night? what if I would have been more active in my professional organization and met more people who could help me now? Eventually these will be important lessons learned, but we shouldn’t dwell on them now.

4. Depression

A doctor once told me that if you have a reason to be depressed, being depressed is normal. People who ‘suffer from Depression’ are depressed when they shouldn’t be. Loss of a job is a valid reason to be depressed. But it can last too long, and if it does, seek professional medical help.

5. Acceptance

This is where we need to get to as quickly as possible after a job loss. In my experience, you can’t avoid going through the 4 stages before this one to get to acceptance, but you can accelerate the process by recognizing the stages, and preparing yourself for, and pushing yourself on to, the next one.