How To Get A Job. Change your career and change your life.
If you have lost your job you are probably asking yourself the question – how do I get a job. Crucially you might be asking yourself how do you increase the chance of finding a new job quickly?
Finding a new job is about fulfilling your potential. You might want to continue the same line of work or you might want to change your career completely, in which case you might ask is it too late to change your career?
You might have reached the conclusion that working in the commercial environment too risky? So it pays to ask yourself Is it just a job you want or a completely new career?
Very often career changes are caused by adverse economic conditions. They force people to act on subtle pressures that have built up over many years and come together as a Mid Life Crisis Clearly in severe economic crisis, its not just a ‘life review’ that means we pay attention to career rethink matters, simply paying the bills means that all age groups can be affected.
One of the things you need to consider when looking for an entirely new career is that you might have to start on less pay to ensure greater security in the future.
One of the most stressful aspects of job hunting is using a ‘recruitment agency’. It needs to understood from the onset that these people are NOT ‘on your side’. You are a commodity that they use for their own ends despite their expressions of support and interest.
The other thing to realize is that they are interested in ‘perfect fit’ not your potential as a human being. This means that rigid classifications of your role, your personality, your qualifications, your experience allow them to lock you in a sort of psychic straight-jacket. Because they are looking for factors that create ‘The Perfect Storm’ it stands to reason that you will ‘miss’ the criteria they are looking for more often than ‘hit’ them.
This means that you should naturally expect more rejections than ‘logic’ tells you should expect. This is often something beyond your control and can be hugely de-moralising. The best way to see it is by realizing this is what is going on and don’t take it personally. (I realize this is not easy to do though)
This can be hugely frustrating because despite claims about employer interest in ‘transferable skills’ the primary reason you are taken on is to do a ‘specific task/role’. Transferable skills (often equated to ‘soft skills’) such a team working, problem solving , leading, following, inventiveness, adaptability, empathy, rapport, emotional intelligence etc are things that might be ‘claimed’ by the applicant but are difficult to know unless experienced. Therefore its your basic ‘fit’ that gets you to first base.
Placing (abdicating?) the prospect of your future employment in the hands of others is a risk. Recruitment staff are not deeply interested in you as a person, they see you more as an ‘asset’ of theirs that they can sell for their own advantage.. For that reason you might consider thinking hard about the ‘value’ you offer to a prospective employer directly. This is a tough thing to do if you have never done it before because it requires you think about things about yourself that you take for granted.
One of the most sobering realizations is that the good reputation you might have built up with colleagues, customers and superiors becomes meaningless in front of somebody who doesn’t know you Your previous job title can mean nothing too.
All too often our identities become associated with the the job title that’s why losing a ‘job’ hits us much harder than the mere fact of ‘job-loss’ would suggest. Its a hard psychological blow too.
This suggests two important things. 1. The power of talking to people who know you, or who have had you refereed to them by word of mouth, and 2. the value and purpose of qualifications. Qualifications are simply ‘short-cuts’ that people can use to get a quick idea of what you are about. Don’t ever think they justify your eligibility for a job on their own.
It’s for this last reason that I would recommend re-adjusting your expectations about what qualifications do for you when you are job hunting. How often have you heard that people were rejected because they were ‘over-qualified’? This is a clue to show that the person has ‘hidden’ behind their certificates to get the job rather than persuasively explained the value they can bring to the role, and organization. Qualifications show that you ‘know stuff’ not that you are an ideal candidate. Sure the qualification might be the ‘table stakes’ for playing the game. They are NOT the reason you will win it.
These factors add to the pressure. You have to stand back and think hard about aspects of yourself and your role that you’ve never had to before, in order that you can justify your potential and your value. This is not easy if you’ve not done it before, and requires practice and a few mistakes on the way to improve. Once again this adds to the pressure because ‘failing’ knocks your confidence.
The fact is your are ‘selling’ yourself. But don’t be mislead into thinking that selling is all about being ‘sharp’, ‘manipulative’, or in your face. Selling yourself is a persuasive activity. Your need to create a personal ‘value proposition’.
Three books it might surprise you I recommend to read are, Miller Heimann – Strategic Selling, Neil Rackham SPIN selling, and Robert Cialdini The Science of Influence. In these books you will find approaches to selling yourself that go well beyond the trite suggestions often seen on Personnel and HR websites. These books talk about how to research what a ‘customer’ (in the job case – The Employer) really needs. They help you ‘interview’ the employer, what are they like?, what are their values?, what rocks their boat? how do they understand motivation etc etc. They also explain ways to position yourself to prospective employers in an influential and convincing way.
One thing you might do in preparation is to ask yourself. In my employment experience what do I want to ‘move away from’ and what would I like to ‘move towards’. Thisis the basis of your job search strategy. You can then consider what ‘fears’ you might have in changing, what things will give you a sense of security, and what things you need to develop in relation to the things you want to move towards.
When you look at a job specification or a role specification you should aim to get across to the employer what your value is and how you might benefit the organisation. Using the STAR method helps you do this.
For each relevant skill or experience firstly explain the situation in which you were involved, then explain the specific task that was required, next the specific action(s) you took, and finally the result.
The local wood working company I was employed by were suffering from intense competition.
We Needed To Create A Range Of New Products:
I was responsible for developing some new prototypes and trying them out on prospective customers
The feedback we gained enabled us to refine our products, our customers thought we were great and our sales increased by 30%