I have a business acquaintance who has made a habit of e-mailing me at least once a year to lament his lack of success in securing alternate employment. This individual is in a highly specialized field for which employment opportunities are seldom advertised, and where networking has long been regarded as the preferred source for employment. I have repeatedly encouraged him to incorporate active networking as a means of uncovering opportunities in the hidden job market. Instead, he has refrained from following this advice defaulting instead to endlessly trolling job boards in search of the elusive “Holy Grail”. Each call is suffused with woe and blandishments about how bad the job market is and how depressing his job search has become.
Reflection on a Common Theme
There is a famous quote that has often been attributed to the late Albert Einstein. It goes: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
My acquaintance is someone who keeps doing the same thing over and over again. He is stuck in a rut. I, along with several others, have encouraged him to vary his approach and try different things. Instead, he sits in front of his computer night after night searching for opportunities that aren’t there and never critically examining whether there might be a better way of proceeding.
Paddling Forward or Treading Water
Job seekers often do the same thing repeatedly assuming it will eventually lead to success. However, at some point they need to sit back and reflect, and ask themselves the critical question: Am I making any substantive progress? I would suggest that if over the course of three months your job search exhibits all or most of the following characteristics chances are you are just “treading water”:
- You haven’t secured either a face-to-face or virtual interview.
- You aren’t applying to or identifying at least one new job opportunity per day.
- You haven’t met, contacted or connected with at least five new people each month.
- You aren’t receiving at least one call a week from employment agencies or search firms regarding opportunities.
- People in your network either don’t follow up with you anymore, or they don’t return your phone calls or e-mails.
- You spent less than ten hours a week in job search activities.
- You routinely find excuses not to engage in job search activities, or else the prospect of gardening, home improvement projects and cleaning rank higher in your list of priorities.
Years ago I decided to take golf lessons. I took this step because I had developed an awful slice in my drives, and every shot, regardless of which club I used, veered off weirdly to the left. I lost dozens of golf balls, and spent endless amounts of times in the rough, the woods or sand traps.
When I met with the golf pro I told him that I had practiced hitting golf balls at driving ranges but couldn’t manage to correct the problem. He smiled and offered me this sage advice: “Practice makes permanent, not perfect”. He watched my swing, observed my technique, and made several corrections that made a huge difference.
From time to time all of us, regardless of what we do or who we are, need to take stock of what we are doing and make adjustments or corrections. That motivation to change may come from a family member, a mentor, a supervisor, a business colleague, a professional coach, or even a golf pro. Sometimes, it may come from external events when emergencies or circumstances dictate a need for change. And sometimes, it may come from a realization deep within us when we recognize that what we are doing just doesn’t work anymore.
A Final Thought….
This year has been a disastrous time for many. 2021 can’t come soon enough.
Millions of people have lost jobs, and those who are employed cling to the hope and expectation that their employment will continue. However, given the magnitude of changes no one’s role is truly secure anymore.
However, if there is one glimmer of hope in this otherwise bleak landscape it is the realization that people are adaptable, inventive and possess an enormous capacity to pivot. Restaurants that were once dining establishments have shifted to take out. Companies like Danby that used to make freezers now make ventilators. Distilleries like Dhillon have shifted their operations to manufacture hand sanitizers. Tommy John Underwear now also produces face masks. The list goes on and on.
If doing what you have been doing hasn’t yielded results then it is time to sit down and reflect before the end of the year on what has worked, what hasn’t worked, and where you need to pivot. In my first blog of 2021 I’ll share with you the 10 things you need to have or do to effectively jump-start your job search for the New Year.
In the meantime, best wishes for a wonderful Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas, a Happy Kwanzaa, and for all of us, a much better 2021!