Identifying and Eliminating the One Person Who is Blocking Your Job Search or Career Move

Every so often I like to read books about topics about which I am curious, knowing full well that I will not understand them. So when I learned that Einstein had written a book meant to explain his theories to the public, I ordered it. If I say I understood 25% I would be bragging and exaggerating! But it was not a waste of time. (Get it? Time. The fourth dimension! Pause for laughter.) It’s good to get out of your own head every now and again.

That is especially true with a job search. The majority of everything you do will be unsuccessful. Most of the employers you contact will not respond. Most of the people with whom you network will be of no assistance. But the minority will respond. The minority will be helpful. You will get that job or start that new career. The problem is, unless you are really lucky and get that new job quickly, it’s going to take a while. That will cause frustration and frustration leads to self-doubt. Self-doubt leads to paralysis.

Most of the resumes I receive start with self-praise.

Highly accomplished manager and sole contributor with deep understanding of best practices to support all channels of asset management distribution. Deep management team-building and mentoring capabilities. Extremely fluid at forging trans-departmental relationships and strong collaborations in highly matrixed organizations. Excellent contract negotiation skills. Creative problem solver skilled at developing effective messaging with internal and external clients. Keen sense of priorities and projects ownership to ensure successful completion on time and on budget.

That’s an exact quote and a great example of what I am talking about. Notice how great she thinks she is but, alas, no mention of a single actual accomplishment. If she had come to me for assistance, the nonsense would have been replaced with a few tangible facts about which employers would actually care. She may be as good as she thinks she is, but, to use a journalism term, if so, she buried the lead.

There is a reason why so many job seekers make this mistake. They are focused on themselves. They want employers to know how great they are. Well, no employer cares how great you think you are. Employers want to be confident that you can solve their problems. That is why self-praise needs to be replaced with selected accomplishments.

But even that is no guarantee of a job offer. And most people will still ignore you. There may be better candidates. You will not always be the best. In fact, you may be the best only once, which is all you need to be.

The problem is, as stated, rejection leads to frustration. You then go from thinking you are the best to thinking you are worthless and your career has been for nought. You start obsessing. You panic. You can’t think straight. You can’t figure out what you are doing wrong.

You then become your own worst enemy. You can’t see the forest for the trees. You no longer have any confidence. You forget about all your successes. You are the one standing in your own way!

That is when you have to step back. Unless you are in marketing or sales, you are not an expert in marketing or sales. And marketing and sales is what a successful job search is all about. You could be actually the greatest IT professional in human history, but the worst in human history making the case for your employment. There is no contradiction between the two. This is not what you do!

When that happens, when you reach that stage, you have no choice but to seek outside help. Of course, I am pitching my services. I’d be lying and would lose all credibility if I pretended otherwise. But before spending money (you don’t want to know how much some people have told me they have spent on job search assistance and career counseling!) spend time with people you respect. Notice I did not say “friends and family.” You might like or love them, but you may not respect them. And if you don’t respect them, you won’t listen to them and, just as importantly, they won’t listen to you, because they probably don’t respect you either. The person needs to be able to take a step back, forget all they know about you, and let you talk freely and candidly about your career. They first have to listen to you. Then they have to ask questions you might not like but which you will have to answer. And then you have to listen to them. You don’t necessarily have to agree with them, but you have to listen.

I have found that people sometimes ignore their most valuable traits. They take them for granted and don’t think they are a big deal when, in fact, they are. Ironically, those are the traits that may appeal to a new employer and are usually the ones that will lead to a new career. But to find them, you have to stand back and let the person with whom you are meeting see both your forest and your trees.

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Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He has helped scores (thousands if you include attendees at his presentations) of people, including veterans, not only change jobs but, on occasion, change careers. Having successfully transitioned from academia to non-profits to the recruiting industry, he has been there and done that!

Bruce is a recognized authority on job search and career issues, having been quoted in over 700 articles, appearing in some 500 publications, across the United States and in more than 30 foreign countries. His posts on LinkedIn have been read over 300,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention, including television appearances on Fox Business Network and Headline News (CNN).

In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, he chairs their Entrepreneurs Network, hosts their weekly podcast – The Voice of Manhattan Business – and serves as an Ambassador.

An advocate for the protection of job seekers, visit the homepage of his website, www.hsstaffing.com, to read about questionable offerings of so-called job search assistance companies and to learn about his upcoming speaking engagements.

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The One Question to Ask Yourself if You Think You Should Change Careers

I won’t exaggerate. It does not happen every day, but at least once a week I get a phone call from someone considering changing careers. As we chat it becomes clear that their problem is not their career but rather their job.

There’s a difference. If you basically like what you do but don’t like your boss or colleagues, you want a new job. If you like what you do but want to do more, and there is no room for growth with your current employer, you want a new job. (In that case, you actually need a new job!) But if you really don’t like what you are doing, despite the fact that you like your boss and colleagues, then it may be time for a new career.

That’s a major step. You will have to learn new things, maybe even go back to school. You could require a license or certification. And, no less importantly, you may need to create an entirely new network. This is not buying a new car or changing your appearance!

When you have issues with your job, it is good to talk to friends and family. They can help. They can listen. They can advise. But when the topic is changing careers, friends and family may let their feelings get in the way. They are rightly concerned about your finances. After all, a new career means starting over and starting over usually means a much lower salary. They care about you and don’t want you to end up loosing what you have worked so hard to achieve. And they may be right!

Some people, including career counselors, will suggest that you take an aptitude test to determine what you are good at. Nonsense! It’s a waste of money. If you actually want to take a test, ask the counselor what test she recommends and then go to their website and take it yourself. You’ll save time and money and won’t feel like a total idiot since you will be wasting less time and less money if you had used her services. (Usually all that happens is that the counselor sends you a link to the test and then the company sends her the link. She then calls you and, basically, reads you the results.)

The fact is, you know what you want to do, you just don’t know it! So sit down, alone, in a comfortable chair, without any distractions, and ask yourself one simple question: When you are working, doing your job, what do you daydream about?

Once you have that answer you may know what your next career will be. To find out, most friends and most family members will be of no help. As stated above, they are going to let their personal feelings get in the way. Instead of encouraging you, which means encouraging you to take a risk, they will encourage you to play it safe. That’s when you go to a career counselor. Because a career counselor can help you answer the next question, Can you make an actual career out of what you daydream about?

Previously I have written, and said at my public presentations, that when choosing a career counselor to help you conduct an effective job search you should always ask one question: How many people have you hired and fired? If they have not hired or fired anyone, then, for them, career counseling is an academic pursuit. You don’t need theory you need experience and they can’t provide it.

The same is true when it comes to choosing a career counselor to help with a new career. The one question to ask them is: Have you ever changed careers? If not, then, again, all they can do is to tell you what they have read in books and articles. You need someone who can hone in on the real issues career changers face and then, together, decide if that is really what you want. If they have not been through it, they won’t know what to ask (unless they read the right books which, after all, you can read on your own saving yourself time and money!).

The good news about changing careers, as opposed to jobs, is that you can actually change careers while keeping your current job. You can test it out and see if you like it before taking the plunge and quitting that job about which your friends and family are so concerned. Which means they will not be negative influences since there is nothing for them to be negative about. There’s no risk – which is obviously the same situation if you want to change careers because you lost your job.

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Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He has helped scores (thousands if you include attendees at his presentations) of people, including veterans, not only change jobs but, on occasion, change careers. Having successfully transitioned from academia to non-profits to the recruiting industry, he has been there and done that!

Bruce is a recognized authority on job search and career issues, having been quoted in over 700 articles, appearing in some 500 publications, across the United States and in more than 30 foreign countries. His posts on LinkedIn have been read over 300,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention, including television appearances on Fox Business Network and Headline News (CNN).

In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, he chairs their Entrepreneurs Network, hosts their weekly podcast – The Voice of Manhattan Business – and serves as an Ambassador.

An advocate for the protection of job seekers, visit the homepage of his website, www.hsstaffing.com, to read about questionable offerings of so-called job search assistance companies and to learn about his upcoming speaking engagements.

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