5 SECRETS MISSING IN YOUR JOB SEARCH Job seekers call me every single day and most of them have a passable resume, spend time reaching out to people on LinkedIn, go to networking events, and have in-demand, marketable skills.
These are the things most people think the job search is all about.
It’s true that these pieces are important and I help my clients take action on all of these every single day. But as I’ve talked to hundreds of job seekers, I’ve noticed that there are a few things that even the savviest of job seekers tend to overlook; things that would make all the difference in the world for them.
Here are 5 secrets that can hold you back from your next paycheck when they are missing from your job search:
#1 TURN UP YOUR HAPPINESS
Shawn Achor says it well. “Success does not mean happiness. Check out any celebrity magazine to look for examples to disabuse you of thinking that being beautiful, successful, or rich will make you happy.”
The same is true for you during your job search. If you aren’t happy during your job search, don’t expect to be happy when you land a job. The tendency is to think that a successful job search ends in happiness - landing a job. And, while this can be the case for some job seekers, a happier job seeker tends to be a more successful job lander and employee.
I’ve asked tons of employers who they’d rather hire - a skilled and happy employee, or a skilled and sad employee. You can see it. The question answers itself.
Here’s a little bit more proof that happiness is a secret.
Having a job will not make you happy and you don’t have to look too far to see evidence of this. For example, a recent Gallup poll showed that only 31.5% of employees are fully engaged at work. That leaves 68.5% who are not completely happy with their job.
How do you get happy?
From a neuroscience perspective, it’s quite simple. There are four major chemicals in the brain that influence our happiness levels: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. If you get more of those, your happiness increases. Getting happy isn’t rocket science or brain surgery. It’s brain science.
Here are some ways to boost your positive neurochemicals:
- Go outside and get some sunlight
- Listen to uplifting or soothing music
- Get a massage
- Exercise or take a walk
- Meditate on a happy event
- Laugh with some close friends or family
- Close your eyes and breath deeply for 5 minutes
# 2 EXUDE SELF-CONFIDENCE
Employers buy confidence. As a career coach, I’ve seen it hundreds of times. A slightly under-qualified, yet confident job seeker who can connect with the hiring manager and team well, is more likely to land the job than a qualified job seeker who has lower self-confidence.
A confident job seeker is a successful job seeker.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams and live the life you’ve imagined.” - Henry David Thoreau
Do you think this is just all in the imagination?
Over the last 5 weeks, I’ve been facilitating a career development class at the San Antonio Public Library and a little over a dozen job seekers regularly attend. We've really become vulnerable and grown closer as we help each other improve.
When we started the class, our time focused on fine-tuning their career goals, defining their professional brand, getting crystal clear on their job function and industry, and putting together a job search strategy. We were making some great progress.
But what do you think came up as the number one thing that got in their way of pursuing their career goals and dream job? Lack of confidence. This lack of confidence came out in different ways for each of them: self-deprecating comments, slouched shoulders, underselling their skills, and not giving themselves enough credit.
Here’s the deal - when employers pick up on your lack of self-confidence, they tend to run the other way.
Here are some ways to boost your confidence during your job search:
- Repeat positive affirmations to yourself every morning
- Surround yourself with supportive friends or family
- Change your appearance - groom yourself, get a new haircut, get glasses, or jewelry
- Dress nicely - a few new outfits in your wardrobe can dramatically boost confidence
- Prepare and plan ahead - know what you want, believe you can get it, and be open to how it may come to you
- Focus on the fact that you can learn how to do the job even if you’re not 100% sure you can do it right now
- Express gratitude for what you’re learning during the job search process
# 3 KNOW YOUR PERSONALITY PREFERENCES
Your personality preferences are some of the most amazing things about you. They are part of what makes you...well you.
When I speak with people about their preferences, what I often hear is that they wish they were like so-and-so or if they could only be more organized or more extroverted or some other personality trait they seem to value more than their own, then their job search would be better.
You’ll get into trouble fast when you start down this road.
Theodore Roosevelt said it this way, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Your personality preferences are things to be celebrated, not assessed. Cherished, not shunned.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator© is one tool that enables you to identify your personality preferences. In fact, what prompted Katharine Cook-Briggs and Isabel Briggs-Myers, to begin developing MBTI© in the first place, was the waste of human potential during World War II. This mother-daughter team wanted to make accessible Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung’s work to everyone. Today, over 2 million MBTI© assessments are taken annually and the tool is translated into 30+ languages.
But what does this have to do with your job?
Knowing your preferences is extremely helpful as you navigate your career because it helps you communicate to others what type of work you enjoy doing and the work environments that are the most conducive to you being able to deliver immense amounts of value.
The MBTI© career assessment enables you to identify your answers to four key questions about yourself:
- Where do you prefer to focus your attention?
- How do you prefer to take in information?
- How do you prefer to make decisions?
- How do you prefer to order your world?
Imagine if you knew the answers to these four questions. The answer could help you decide which tasks to do at work, what type of environment you work best in, and how to develop and manage your career. Knowing your personality would also assist you in choosing which job search strategies would work best for you, picking industries that your preferences might be more attracted to, and it would give you options as to what roles may play to your preferences really well.
In fact, this is exactly what the MBTI© Career Report gives you - 10 pages of tips, tools, and strategies you can turn around and use to your advantage in job search mode. Combine this knowledge with coaching from a certified MBTI© facilitator who can guide you in the application, and you'll be able to effectively match your unique strengths to the best career environment for you.
# 4 CREATE CRYSTAL-CLEAR CLARITY
Your brain loves clarity and thrives on focus. The opposite is also true. When your brain is unclear about something, you tend to experience confusion. Confusion and the stress that accompanies it is a threat response.
When you begin looking for a new job, your brain can easily go into overload because of the lack of clarity on what it is that you want. The tendency is to focus on how your past situation could be fixed if you or someone had only done this or that. The past cannot be changed, so I recommend a forward focus. Focus on the past and that’s where you’ll stay. Focus on the future and that’s where you’ll go.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” - Socrates
Dr. David Rock of the NeuroLeadership Institute discusses five categories of threats that can cause our brains to experience a fight, flight, or freeze response. One of these areas has to do with being certain of where you’re headed and what you want. In other words, getting crystal-clear on what you want increases your odds of getting into the calm and connect mode.
Many people tend to think that they know what they want, but if someone were to ask you right now - where do you want to take your career? Could you give me a polished paragraph of where you see yourself in 5, 10, 20, or 30 years? Chances are slim that you can articulate this clearly, but there’s no need to critique or judge yourself.
It’s time to get to work because knowing the answers to these questions will set you apart from the crowd, give you confidence, and enable you to clearly communicate your goals to potential employers.
Here are some ways to start building a clearer career path for yourself:
- Write your goals down on paper; resist the urge to put your goals into a digital format - paper is real and tangible and there’s something about writing your goals down on something you can touch in real life that makes you more likely to achieve them
- Use the SMART acronym to focus your goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals tend to happen more often than those day dreams you don’t document
- Every time you have a new idea about something you want to do, write it down; writing it downs doesn’t mean that you’re committing yourself to it, it just means that you’re entertaining the idea - keep this log and regularly review it. Keep what you like, change what you want, and trash what doesn’t fit anymore.
- Articulate what’s important to you in your career - get super clear on your priorities and values and don’t budge on these.
- Set internal goals for yourself as well as external goals. In other words, some of your goals can only be measured by you - internal peace, joy, or happiness. Write these goals down as well. People who are less in touch with themselves won’t feel comfortable with the idea of these subjective measures, but what’s going on in your head and your heart plays out in your life.
- Talk with a coach, mentor, or trusted friend - someone who can challenge your internal story. You have some amazing patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting that have enabled you to achieve your goals in life so far and when you need to take things to a new level, it requires new thinking, feeling, and action patterns. Get clear on what these are.
#5 FOCUS ON QUALITY NETWORKING
When it comes to your job search, it’s not about how many people you know. It’s all about knowing the right people. Resist the urge to begin inviting everyone on LinkedIn to join your network or following everyone on Twitter. Instead, choose targeted networking over the shotgun approach.
When it comes to networking, why is quality over quantity the way to go?
You probably already know this, but 80%+ of job opportunities out there are not advertised on sites like Monster, Careerbuilder, or Indeed. Why is this? Businesses invest a pretty penny posting a job opening, recruiting potential candidates, screening those candidates, and starting the interview process. This is money they’d generally prefer investing elsewhere.
And, employers are human like the rest of us. They tend to want to work with people who they already know, like, and trust. Like you, they tend to go with the certain over the uncertain.
As a career coach, I’ve watched it happen dozens of times. Someone who is looking to make a job transition reaches out to an acquaintance and that person is able to connect them to the person who can help them land their next job.
In real estate, the mantra is “Location. Location. Location.” In job search, the mantra is “Networking. Networking. Networking.”
If you want to take this targeted strategy over the spray and pray approach, here are a few things you can do:
- Get your talking points in order by answering these questions:
- Who do you want to talk to?
- What would motivate them to speak with you?
- What do you bring to the other party?
- What makes you unique?
- What’s your targeted function and industry?
- What are you giving them in exchange for their time?
- Regularly sign up for online or in-person trainings; these are great opportunities to network with the trainer or fellow trainees
- Attend trade shows, conventions, or conferences: better yet, man a booth, host a breakout session, or deliver a key-note
- Target specific organizations, people, or groups on LinkedIn; always have a clear reason as to why you are reaching out to someone or joining a group
- Join professional associations like your chamber of commerce, business masterminds, or Toastmasters
- Leverage some of your social groups like wine club, church, or country club
- Connect with past professors, mentors, or teachers who are well-connected; they may not be able to help you find a job, but they probably will know someone who you should get to know
- Reach out to industry specific recruiters who have a reputation for doing great work; all recruiters are not created equal, find a good one that you enjoy working with
- Keep following up with your networking contacts - create a frequency that keeps your name at the top of their radar, but doesn’t make them wince they get another phone call or email from you
If you want someone to come alongside you and help you identify your career goals, assemble a short and long-term career management strategy, or simply get your next job faster, schedule a consultation here.