The holiday season has been hard for most job hunters as they reflected on the last 12 months while they were seeking a new solution to an old problem. I received a number of emails and even a few calls from clients who worried about 2015. I went away for a few days to re-charge my batteries but I couldn’t help but reflect on some of these messages and decided to make some blog notes.
Early in my career, when I worked at Optus, my favourite mentor was my Managing Director, Allen Lew. He once told me a great story to help me through a personal problem.
The Story of Blind Men and an Elephant
Three blind men meet and are asked to describe an elephant. One says that an elephant is long and skinny like a snake. The other says that the first doesn’t know what he is talking about, and says an elephant is like the trunk of a tree, round and thick. The third says they are both wrong, that an elephant is wide and circular like a giant disc. In some versions, they stop talking, start listening, and collaborate to “see” the full elephant. When a sighted man walks by and sees the elephant, they also realize they are all blind.
It doesn’t take you very long to figure out that each of the men is talking about a different part of the elephant .The men are blind, so they fail to take in the whole elephant. Because their experience was limited to a certain part of the elephant, they assumed that the elephant was the part they could see. Why – am I telling you the Elephant Story? Because I want you to get creative in 2015.
Being creative is often like being a blind person. You are dealing with a problem that you cannot see. You talk about it, you look at it, and then you try to solve it by understanding only the parts that you can see. The problem is that you can easily get in a rut, and start seeing the same problem and offering the same solution. What happens, though, when, either by choice or by circumstance, you need to come up with new solutions to find a job?
Opening New Doors
To come up with a new approach to an old problem, and to open new doors, you often need to look at the problem differently. If you do the same things, you will get the same results. In my experience, when a new solution was required, the best thing I could do (whether I was stuck or not) was to change my perspective on the problem. The only way to achieve that was by talking to other people and seeking expert insight, help, and advice. Most of the advice I received would use the “Start with Stop Doing this…” method.
So here is what you should do to improve your job hunting results in 2015?
It All Start’s Starts with STOP
If you are like most job hunters out there, then you are probably your own greatest enemy. You have searched and applied for a while, you start to doubt yourself, you start to complicate your life with more application ideas, you cloud your mind with unimportant thoughts and negativity, you eventually even punish yourself with procrastination, hate yourself, and then feel sorry for yourself, because “outside forces” are making your job search experience a living hell.
Surely your situation sucks because those are the cards that you’re dealt, but most job hunters — especially those who are better off financially and don’t live on the streets — tend to make their very own lives more difficult. But there are things you can do to stop the miserable cycle that you have found yourself in — a cycle that I know all too well, because I deal with job hunters’ stories every day. Here are 10 things that I suggest you stop in 2015.
1. Stop Procrastinating.
Problems don’t go away on their own. You can either make them go away or live with them. If you know you can’t live with them, then don’t procrastinate because the weight of them on your mind only increases over time. Get help!
2. Stop Lying to Yourself.
People will lie to you left and right throughout your life; don’t add to the pile of lies. It is one thing for others to be lying to you, and an entirely different issue if you’re lying to yourself. You have to be able to rely on yourself and on what you believe. If you lost faith or belief in yourself, get help!
3. Stop Relying on Others.
People have their own lives filled with their own headaches, problems, mishaps and successes. Friendship is great, but often doesn’t weather the storm. Be self-reliant. Be independent. We all find ourselves alone at several points throughout our lives, and most friends don’t like to deal with us when we are unemployed. If you find yourself on your lonesome, and don’t know how to deal with it because you are used to having constant support, then you will drown. Get help!
4. Stop Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Expecting Different Results.
At the same time, don’t keep making the same mistakes and expecting different results. If you tried something one way and it didn’t work, then guess what will happen when you try again exactly in the same manner? Failure is only good if you learn from it. Otherwise it really is just failure.
5. Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself.
Life is tough for everyone. The richest of the rich have problems. The poorest of the poor have problems. We make problems for ourselves — they don’t exist outside of us. Stop feeling sorry for yourself, and start interacting with the world around you. Go out – get away from your online gadgets, meet real people, start to network, join Meetup Groups – do something new.
6. Stop Making Excuses.
I understand that the time isn’t right, the place isn’t right, and the stars have yet to align perfectly. The setting will never be perfect for anything. Perfect is not the alignment of outside forces; it’s making havoc the perfect opportunity. Stop making excuses, and start making opportunities for yourself, even if you struggle with it – join a group – volunteer – leave your house. Get help!
7. Stop Worrying.
Sh*t happens. Then it happens again. Then sh*t won’t happen for a day or two…and then it returns with a vengeance. The more responsibilities that you have (children, mortgage, and finances), the more you have to potentially worry about. The key is not to procrastinate, and approach all problems logically. The only thing worth worrying about is your own laziness; everything else is out of your control. If you worry about things out of your control, then you are setting yourself up for a mental breakdown.
8. Stop Overloading Your Schedule.
Doing more does not necessarily mean getting more done. It’s all about efficiency. Divvy up your time for all the things that you MUST do, and if you run out of time, spend some of your money to find someone who can help you to solve some of the MUST DO’s, and then divvy up the rest of your time for the things that you WANT to do. Just make sure to be clear on what you need before you start going after what you want.
9. Stop Trying to Impress Others.
It’s not worth it. The only reason you should ever try to get on someone’s good side is if you need them for something — and only in business. When it comes to personal relationships, you can’t do anything more than be yourself. If they don’t like you for who you are, then they will never truly like you. Move on – see point 1.
10. Stop Wishing You Were Someone Else.
Make sure that you know who you are, and do all you can to develop — not just change. People don’t change overnight, they develop and grow. You are an individual because you are a human being. You have the potential to do anything you want, including finding a new job. Figure out what it is that you are really able to offer to an employer and go after it. Stop applying for unrealistic jobs, and stop the copy, paste, send shotgun approach. You are only making things worse for yourself, and all those other job hunters out there, as you are adding to the ever increasing job application spam.
I know, this is eventually not what you wanted to read today. You can choose to continue to go about your job search the same way you did in 2014 but remember, they won’t open any new doors.
Try something new in 2015, get creative, or get help, just don’t go back to doing the same thing over and over again
and certainly remember to hunt wisely!