Every few years a hiker in the United States finds a large raw diamond. Usually it was carried down by glaciers from Canada when sheet ice covered the north. A raw diamond is interesting, but not exciting. To reach its true value that stone must be turned over to an expert. It will have scores of facets polished into it until it catches the light and sparkles with fire. It is the expert polishing that makes people cherish diamonds. Diamonds in the rough don’t stay that way for long after they are discovered.
My old partner got a Thank You note from a candidate she first placed 20 years ago. She convinced a bank to take a chance on him. He has worked his way up the corporate ladder and gotten promotion after promotion. He was a diamond in the rough.
At the bank he first decided to stand out less while working more. He watched closely how others dressed and acted. How did they succeed in the sales and politics? Banks are calm on the outside, but full of opportunity and excitement behind the façade. Mentors appeared as he looked for them. Some were his managers, some were higher up or lateral to him. They gave him advice and helped him acquire polish. Over the years he kept on polishing new shining facets into his skills and character. He learned management and leadership. He figured out ways to fix problems instead of just endure them. Instead of being noticed for his rough exterior, he now stands out for his ability to make things happen and his polish.
If you get a job based on being a diamond in the rough you will only progress a little if you don’t acquire some polish. You may have to get rid of the nose stud or the blue jeans you always wear. It may be your technical skills that need work. Effective management and leadership abilities need training and practice. Look for mentors, people above you who can lift you up. Move away from the group that is stuck in a rut. Find the stars that are rising and do what they do. Learn constantly.
You can tell a human diamond in the rough from an average person. If you truly are a diamond in the rough, you will embrace change. You will actively seek polish and improvement.
This series is about what makes or breaks a job hunt. Reality and the real world. My list of the reasons people get a new job or struggle includes:
- Nothing beats a positive unstoppable Helium II attitude.
- People who are hurting are terrible employees and everyone knows it.
- You have to know your advantages and ruthlessly exploit them.
- The people competing against you must be known, measured, and either beaten, eliminated or enticed elsewhere.
- You can’t make a silk purse out of a buggy whip.
- You have to be worth more than you are being paid
- A man dying of thirst will still want a bargain on a bottle of water
- Perception isn’t important, it is everything
- Character really counts
- Diamonds in the rough don’t stay that way
- Relax and get cleat marks up your back
Think about your job search. Just think. And then take notes about your conclusions.
For this week: Zen and the art of getting a job
Tomorrow: Cleat marks up your back