Do you pick up money you see on the ground? Do you stop your career in order to do a menial project or take a job someone else should do?
Bending over to pick up a hundred dollar bill is a bad investment of your time if you are Bill Gates. He has averaged earning more than that every two seconds since Microsoft started. I did the math.
Imagine you’re the fastest pizza maker in the world and make the best pizzas ever. However, your name is also Tom Monaghan, and you founded Domino’s Pizza. Is the best use of your time to make pizzas and sell them? No. Not even close. No matter how good your pizzas are, or how many you can make, if you focus on making pizzas instead of making a corporate empire, you will be wasting your time.
Just because you are the best person for the job, doesn’t mean the job is the best opportunity for you.
Something to do today
What are you doing that keeps you from tackling more important projects? Who can you get to do that job for you?
A giant cockroach steals the hero’s gun and swallows it, So the hero taunts the cockroach until it eats him. A few minutes later the cockroach explodes and our hero is standing there holding the huge gun the monster ate a few minutes before. Men In Black was a lot of fun. In that case the only way to save the world was to survive in the stomach of a giant bug.
There has to be at least 5 great job hunting analogies there. Create your own, then read mine. I bet mine is different.
The giant bug wants nothing more than to get into its spaceship and get away. Of course the earth will be destroyed if it gets away, but that is not the bug’s problem. The two puny humans must do everything they can to keep it from leaving. They taunt it, harass it, insult it, and step on small earthly cockroaches (relatives and friends) to get it to delay its departure. They figure out what the bug can’t ignore and get it to come back and deal with them.
Hiring managers are like giant cockroaches. They just want to hide in their offices and get away from you. You are a waste of their time unless you tell them something that proves they need you. They would rather have their receptionist shred your resume than take the time to talk to you. Take three lessons from the way the Men In Black fought the giant bug:
You have to find the right words
You have to engage them in conversation
A relative or friend may be able to get them to talk to you
Over the next three articles I will show you how to do each of these things. The giant cockroach, the hiring manager, will give you all the hints you need. I’ll show you what those hints are.
Something to do today
What do you need to do to get a hiring manager to need to talk to you?
“I want to find a place where I don’t have to work so hard anymore. I’m 6 years from retirement. With my experience, I should be able to get top dollar for my next job.”
Do you see the absolute logical disaster in that statement? He wants to work less, slow down preparing for retirement, and be paid as much as ever. I hear these words at least once a week. They are the prelude to disaster. This guy may get another job, but he will be fired if he “doesn’t work so hard anymore”.
No one wants to pay you to relax and take it easy. They want your best effort. They want miracles. If you decide it is time to slow down, then step down to do that. If not, someone who wants to work hard is going to leave tire tracks up your back. He will run right over you to climb his career ladder. Your boss will cheer him on and give him your chair.
A lot of people complain about age discrimination. There is a fair amount of it, but more often the problem is that the young guy is obviously determined to excel. He commits to hard work. His record shows 50, 60 and 70 hour weeks. The older person literally says in an interview, “I’ve learned how to work smart and not hard. I don’t need to put in more than 40 hours a week anymore.” The boss who is putting in 70 hours a week will not believe the old guy can do it. Even worse, often the older guy has a history of declining output.
Who would you hire? The person whose output is increasing, or decreasing?
Especially if you are over 40 (or 50, or 60) like me, you have to show in every second of your interview that you can outwork, outlast, and outperform any of those young guys. Your message is that they don’t know the meaning of accomplishment. If you prove you won’t relax and take it easy, you’ll get the job. It doesn’t matter who you are competing against. If you relax, you’ll get tire tracks up your back.
About the last two weeks
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:
Do you have a Helium II attitude?
Are you hurting?
Are you ruthlessly exploiting your advantages?
Are you measuring up to the competition?
Are you using outdated or overly niche skills?
Are you really worth 10x what you’re paid?
Do you carefully curate how people perceive you?
Are you continuing to polish your skills?
Will you work hard, or get run over?
Think about your job search. Just think. And then take notes about your conclusions.
You are not trying to get the job of “minion” or “muscle”. Don’t pretend that exploiting your life experience is wrong. It is not the same as mugging someone in a back alley. The real reason most people don’t want to exploit their advantages is that they “want to stand on their own two feet”. It is a lovely macho phrase that means very little. Our society, families and personal lives all rest on the shoulders of those who came before us. Admit that no matter what you do, others have helped you. Get on with using the advantages that parents, teachers, friends, clergy and God have given you.
Here are some excuses people use and reasons to exploit them for your advantage.
I will not exploit my family connections to get a job.
Acorns don’t fall far from the tree. Employers need reliable hires. Getting someone from a good family is a much better bet than hiring a complete stranger. If they can’t hire you, but they suggest someone else hire you, they get brownie points from that other person. They win as much as you do.
My friends are too close to my heart for me to ask them for help.
If your friends object to helping you get a job, they don’t trust you with THEIR reputation. If you are going to let them down, you are not a friend. If they trust you and you will follow through, helping is what builds friendships.
I refuse to manipulate their emotions.
People always hire based on emotion. Always. Even if no one talks to you and they only give you a paper test, they hire on emotion. Paper tests are put together based on what people FEEL will give them the best employee. Your pay will be based on emotion – how well they FEEL you will do. Promotions are based on emotion – how do they FEEL you will do in the new job. Don’t be dishonest. Don’t be an actor. Tell the truth simply. The emotions behind the truth will help you Use them.
Inviting them to lunch is brown nosing and sucking up.
Actually it is called networking. In many companies senior partners and executives can be fired for not having lunch with enough different people. They are evaluated on lunch. Literally.
I won’t tell them I left because I was sick. I don’t want their sympathy.
You are fine now and it is relevant to understand your resume. If it will substantially help you get the job, tell them. Talk to a couple of job experts and get their opinion. If it will help, exploit it.
I want the job, but I don’t feel right pressing them to choose me
They want to hire the person with the best attitude. They want the person who will work the hardest. They want someone who they can promote. They want someone who is excited. They want to hire the hungriest person. How can they tell that about you unless you keep asking them, “When will you decide?”, and, “When can I start?”
It is greedy asking for more money.
If the offer is very good, take it. Don’t argue. Otherwise, ask for more money. If you really are worth it, get the money. If they pay you more, you will be less likely to leave for another job because of more pay. They win too.
Taking this job to get experience, when I plan to leave later, is wrong.
Hiring and training you does cost money. Companies that invest that money have already figured out how to profit from it. They will either give you a raise and promotion, or expect you to leave. They will make money. You won’t cost them a thing.
I’m a veteran, but it is not fair to use that to get a job.
The leadership, teamwork, calmness under fire, discipline and fortitude veterans develop is uncommon. Bring it up.
Your life experience makes a difference. Whatever that experience is. You need to use it and exploit it.
Something To Do Today
Think of these “excuses”. If there are any that you use, how can you use it to your advantage?
A woman moved into a new neighborhood and asked the man next door what the people who lived there were like. He answered, “They’re just people. What were the people like in your last neighborhood?” She told him exactly what she thought. He replied, “I think you’ll find people around here are exactly the same kind of people.” It is mostly what you take with you, not the neighborhood, that determines how you will like where you live or work.
Laid off, fired, divorced, or the death of family, friends or pets can all make you hurt badly. The trouble is that many people take those pains to work. There they perform poorly or not at all. Bosses understand a few days of mourning. The trouble is that some people don’t get back in the saddle. Those people are horribly unproductive or counterproductive for months or even years.
The people who hurt the most have the toughest time finding a new job. It is obvious when someone is suffering that we often tell them to take a week or two off to recover before they apply for another job. Why blow a great opportunity because you are in pain? Some people are so badly hurt we won’t even try to help them get a job.
In other words, don’t expect to get a great job while you are hurt or mourning. If you really are hurting you need to change and get back to normal or no one will want to work with you.
Poor social skills and terrible work habits have the same symptoms as debilitating emotional pain. Some symptoms are that you think, and it is true, that everyone at your last job was HORRIBLE. The boss was a lunatic. All your coworkers avoided you. Promotions and pay raises were denied because someone hated you without any reason. People were talking behind your back. Everyone wanted you to leave.
The problem with that debilitating pain (or the other problems), is that you refuse to take responsibility yourself. When things are going that bad at a job, it is always your fault. You are bringing that anger upon yourself by something you do. Your attitude, reactions, the chip on your shoulder, or lack of listening, may incite the problem. Occasionally, very rarely, you have the wrong job. The problem is you.
Don’t bring those problems to your next job. If everywhere you go smells like crap, check the bottom of your shoes before you blame someone else.
Something To Do Today
Think about your job search. Just think. And then take notes about your conclusions.
Do you mistrust “Positive Attitude” mentors? Do their programs sound good but make you depressed after a while?
The answer is found in liquid Helium vs Helium II.
Helium II is a very unusual liquid. In the next paragraph I’ll use two people to show the difference between liquid Helium and Helium II.
Jim applied to be a space shuttle astronaut. He practiced his positive mental attitude and visualizations twice a day for an hour. He knew that would get him the job. Somehow he ended up getting a rejection letter. Jim thought that being a 35 year old, out of shape, high school dropout out without a job or a desire to get one should have been overpowered by his “positive attitude”. A 77 year old man had more of a positive attitude than Jim, so he got the job. John Glen flew into space as an old man because he figured out a way to overcome the huge obstacle of age. It involved getting a job in congress and deciding how much money NASA got.
Attitude is really about preparing, contributing and finding your way around obstacles. Jim did not have a positive attitude. He just liked to think he did. John Glenn had a positive, unstoppable Helium II attitude.
Norman Vincent Peale, Maxwell Maltz and other attitude masters always said that attitude is NOT everything. Attitude just helps you figure a way around obstacles or a better direction to go with your energy. Positive attitude was never meant to be a replacement for reality and effort.
Helium II is an example of gas with an attitude. Helium II is supercooled helium that is not just a liquid, but a very special liquid. It will slip through molecule sized cracks in a container. If you leave it in an open beaker, it will climb the walls of the beaker and get out. Swirl it into a little whirlpool and it won’t stop swirling because it has no internal friction. It is practically unstoppable in many ways. The only way to really stop it is to let it warm up just a little bit. Then it becomes a normal liquid and all those fascinating behaviors stop.
You can have a Helium II attitude. Use your positive attitude to look for ways to escape the container you are in. Is there a crack you can exploit? If necessary, can you climb out of any career pit you have fallen into? If nothing else, you need to keep moving while waiting for your next opportunity. Don’t ever stop improving yourself and doing outstanding work. If you let yourself get hot under the collar about what has happened to you, you may become stuck right where you are, or slip even lower. Prepare and grow while keeping your eyes open for the next opportunity.
A while ago I helped a man get a much better job. For years he has been struggling with jobs that were below his skill level. The reason they were below his skill level is that he has always been educating himself. He has been spending his own money to better himself. His jobs have not measured up to his constantly growing skills. Since he was overqualified he decided to do the jobs he had exceptionally well. It wasn’t easy. But with his preparation I finally found him the perfect opportunity. I doubt he will stop now. He’ll keep studying and preparing. Pretty soon he’ll be too big for this job and have to find an even bigger opportunity. For now he’s just grateful he kept on moving and kept up a really positive attitude. The kind of attitude that always finds a way.
Something To Do Today
Writing in a job journal is a great place to start, you can write about what you want to do better. Writing it down rather than saying it reinforces your decisions.
A woman I know well was promoted to a level way above her comfort zone. She had never failed in the past with her last position, but this new promotion was stressful and a big deal to her. One of her friends gave her this advice:
“Congratulations. Relax. Cool it. Just do good work daily and before you know it, it will be a career.”
That is good advice any time you find yourself in a job, or interview for a job, that is way beyond where you expected to be.
Something To Do Today
Do your best every day, and you will quickly grow into the position.
Job search? Cleaning your mind may be the most critical part.
“Why are there no blacks and only 3 latinos out of 1200 employees?” I figured there was a good reason, and the president of the company gave me one. However, a manager got me into his office and yelled at me. He really yelled at me. I had a choice to make as I got in my car. Should I replay the incident over and over and get madder and madder, or should I concentrate on something else?
I chose badly for 15 minutes. I got madder and madder. Then I realized what I was doing. I figured out that something must have triggered that outburst. The president was not bothered by my question. The manager that yelled at me was badly embarrassed. I forgave him and started concentrating on something else, anything else. In 10 minutes I was enjoying life on my terms again. And, yes, I found out three months later that they were now actively recruiting and training blacks specifically for that division.
Most jobs you apply for, you won’t get. That’s just the statistical truth. So how do you handle it when you lose? You certainly have to notice what happened. It is great to try to figure out what went wrong, if anything. After you’ve evaluated what happened, start planning your next job success.
If you keep replaying every negative thing that happens while searching for a job, you’ll go crazy. When you concentrate on what went well, you reinforce your positive behaviors. When you relive the things that went wrong, you reinforce the negative. You also feel worse. Work at feeling better.
My wife is a good piano and organ player. When she is learning a new piece she is careful NOT to practice known mistakes over and over. She slows way down and practices it right. Then she speeds up. In her mind and in her fingers she concentrates on minor victories. It can take her a month of practicing 2 to 4 hours a day to get a piece just right. She’d go crazy if she concentrated on her mistakes. She enjoys practicing because she celebrates every minor success. She can find a success every minute.
You need to look for successes in your job hunting. If there is something you know you did wrong, slow down. Instead of rehearsing the errors in your mind, mentally see yourself doing it right. Find a quiet place and relax. See yourself correcting mistakes and getting a positive response.
If someone else screwed up, slow down. Concentrate on what you did right. You can’t control the other person. You can’t change history. You can find a quiet place and relax. You can rehearse in your mind what you did right. In your mind you can practice correcting any mistakes you made.
Good mental hygiene is the difference between self improvement and self destruction. It also just plain feels better.
Something To Do Today
Get the book Psycho Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz. It has a lot of great ideas about how to control your thoughts and happiness.
Go to JustServe.org and find a place you can help someone else. It will help.
Is your ladder to success helping you climb the right wall?
Too many people climb the ladder of success, only to find it is leaning against the wrong wall. (unkn)
Should you be a CEO?
Jim just took a job as a manager of a small company. He’s been a CEO before. He took the lowly manager’s job because he likes it better than being CEO. He didn’t even put his CEO experience on his resume. He got the “lowly” job he really wants because he left the word CEO off his resume.
I can tell you the same story, with the exact opposite twist, of technicians and engineers who worked their way up the technical ladder, only to finally figure out that they should have quit and gone to work as the CEO of a small company. These are guys making $150,000+ as technicians. Not bad money at all.
There’s a way to find out if you really, truly, in your gut would like to be a CEO. Get a couple of practice jobs. First, become a team leader or manager where you are. Also get involved in your local or national trade association. While you are at it, volunteer to head a charity organization. Your local school has a PTO, swim team boosters, band boosters, etc. The YMCA, Boys and Girls Club and Scouts all need people who are leaders. Another great way is to run for the school board, town council or state legislature.
Leading any of these organizations will help you see if you like management. In them you need to set your own goals and agenda. You need to persuade people to work with you. Selling others on your ideas is essential. You’ll also build a network of people who can help you become a CEO. You’ll get to show true executive leadership.
If you talk to CEO’s, you’ll find that many of them evaluate executives in their own and in supplier companies by how they perform in volunteer posts. Being a CEO isn’t just telling people what to do. It also includes creating a network that will draw talent and contracts to your company.
If you want to be a CEO, get started now. There are teams, associations, charitable organizations and political organizations looking for leaders.
And pay attention. Being CEO may not be for you.
Something To Do Today
If you have any desire to be a manager or a leader, make a list of places where your leadership
could have an effect. Go out and get started in those organizations. You could easily be the “CEO” in 2 years.
You may not have searched for a job for years. You need to learn something from a baby.
If you touch a newborn baby’s cheek, its head turns in that direction. Often the head goes back and forth as the baby tries to find and suck on whatever touched its cheek. A baby old enough to try to grab something reaches for its goal and misses. The baby’s hand goes past the object, then corrects too far the other direction, then again goes past the object. Eventually the baby grasps the object victoriously and smiles. The baby doesn’t cry because he over-corrected five times or only has one toy in his hand. He coos in triumph. It is time to enjoy this feat, not worry about the next challenge.
Job hunting triumphs come often. Getting a job is always the cumulative result of a hundred victories. Those victories should be celebrated over and over in your mind. Yes, you need to notice that you failed to finish the next step, but you shouldn’t focus on a defeat and exclude the victories leading up to that step.
If you send out 100 resumes and get 3 phone calls, you succeeded 103 times! You sent out 100 resumes, a feat many job seekers never equal. You also got 3 calls from your resume. It worked.
You called 10 recruiting shops and 1 invited you in for an interview. 10 calls is a great adventure, and one success in 10 calls is wonderful. Securites salespeople often make 200 calls in a day with absolutely no success. Getting one interview is great. Making 10 calls is a victory.
I had an executive make it to the final list of 3 candidates for a high level job. Another candidate was chosen. All he could see was that for the 7th time in 3 months he had failed to get the job. He could not focus on some delightful facts:
He was referred to me by his network.
His resume was very good.
I thought highly enough of him to recommend him.
He got the first phone interview.
An executive flew across the country to interview him.
He came to the facility he would lead and passed 6 more interviews.
He made it to the short list of final candidates.
What a monumental chain of victories! This was a phenomenal set of accomplishments. Yet, he couldn’t see his successes when the process was done. All he looked at was that he missed the final cut. He got depressed and self critical. It got so bad that I couldn’t recommend him to another company. He took a job he dislikes with a company he doesn’t respect. That job lets him stop the pain of focusing on his occasional failures. He was not desperate financially. He was desperate to win because he stopped seeing his successes.
Watch a baby closely the next time you have a chance. Notice their absolute delight in grasping a rattle or teething ring. They are thrilled and fling their chubby hands around with the object they won. Nothing could be more glorious. Right now they are focusing on success. They aren’t worried about the next step. They got one thing right.
Take the time to relive your successes every hour of your job search. You will find your attitude soars. You don’t make the cut? Relive every successful step getting there. Include finding out about the job, applying, getting a call, arriving on time, etc. All those are feats showing your prowess. Go ahead relive them in your mind. You deserve it.
Something To Do Today
Get your job journal out. List the 3 jobs you have gotten closest to winning. Even if it was just making a phone call or sending a resume. List all the steps you executed successfully to get to that point. Include all the little ones. Relive those successes. “You done good, little fella.”