Thursday, July 23, 2009

Back to Business

I taught a workshop earlier this week for a group of 25 unemployed professionals and managers called Getting Back to Business. Its focus was how to conduct a disciplined and professional job search with the underlying assumption that those who do the most sophisticated and authentic job searches are most likely to be re-employed the quickest.

We focused on the usual topics of being organized, seeing the job search as a marketing campaign, understanding how to network appropriately, and so on. As we worked our way through the session, and continuously responding to the very prevalent, “I’ve tried . . . and it hasn’t worked . . . ,” I realized a couple of things that was making the process challenging for these folks.

The first thing I noticed was that, as smart and accomplished as the participants were, many of them were simply going through the motions of the job search. In other words, they were diligent in doing it “by the book”, but only a few recognized that a good job search is a process of continuous learning. So instead of applying what they learned from each experience and encounter, I felt the most of the audience was following that time worn definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

The second thing I saw was an intense level of anxiety, much of which resulted from where they were putting their attention and efforts. They kept talking about the sorry state of the job market and their efforts they talked about were often centered on trying to get people “out there” to respond to their continuing requests for action. What most were not seeing was that they needed to put their attention on what they had control over: The attitude they brought to the process, the choices they made at any given moment, and putting their energy and efforts in taking one, small step at a time.

There’s no doubt that a job search can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We all know is lousy, but there are always things each of us can do to mitigate that reality. With the right mind set and focused action, the transition process can actually be a time of great energy and profound learning. Best wishes.

Mark Guterman