Head Trash That Can Hurt Your Job Search

April 5th, 2010

I don’t think I’ll surprise anyone by saying that it can be very difficult to find a job today. In fact, if you’re from an industry that’s been devastated or tarnished like the mortgage sector, then it might be close to impossible to re-brand yourself.  People from the real estate sector aren’t finding work in their field, and are finding it very hard to change industries after many years of success.  The tech sector is doing okay, and alternative energy/green jobs seem to still be doing okay, however they want people from those fields and would rather not settle for an industry changer.  Even the med device space, which is doing well today, still wants folks from their industry rather than an industry changer, especially if you’re out of work.  In fact, companies are looking askance at out of work job seekers, so the microscope is on you even more.

OK, is anyone thoroughly depressed after reading that?  It’s just not true, and even if it is partly true, it’s not worth thinking about.  I have a good friend that likes to say he “can’t afford the luxury of a negative thought.”  That’s truer today than ever.

Excuses have been around since the beginning of time. If you’re looking for a reason to hang onto your lack of success, I can probably find you at least 10.  But, that’s not a check you can bring home to feed your family.  No question, it’s tougher out there, but people have overcome much worse before, and how we face this employment challenge can serve as an example for our children for how they can face adversity.

If there is a reason why something might work, there are probably 10 reasons why it won’t.  Entrepreneurs have always faced that challenge – finding the 1 out of 10 reasons why something can work, in the face of entire industries of behemoth companies that think it can’t. Job seekers today need to think entrepreneurially, and find the reason why something CAN work.  When I talk with co-workers, job seekers, networking friends, or business associates about an idea, I invariably hear the reasons why something can’t work. Lately, I’ve found myself saying, “Ok, I agree about why it won’t work, now let’s figure out how or why it could work.”  Find the reasons to say “yes” to something as opposed to “no.”

I would like to be reasonable about this hypothesis.  After all, I recently wrote a blog about why people shouldn’t apply for the wrong jobs.  I can’t see how someone who has never been in HR, let alone a leader, can all of a sudden land a job as the HR leader for a 1500 employee company.  However, someone that has sold capital equipment in the tech space, could re-position themselves to sell capital equipment in the medical or alternative energy space.  An HR person from large, well-known companies could probably re-brand themselves as a key resource for emerging growth companies, and can likely find evidence of relevant experience in their background.

I’m not suggesting any of this will be easy. In fact, it likely won’t, so be prepared to go above and beyond to re-brand yourself for a new space, or to slug it out with multiple candidates in your chosen industry.  Think of yourself as a professional athlete – the odds are against you making it to the pros, but if you work harder than your competition, find a niche, make yourself known, and follow a well-thought out plan, you just might make it.

Remember, companies want “A” players today. The time to brand yourself as that A player is during your job search. Do more, be unique, work harder, find a way in, and have a large pipeline, and you’ll beat this challenge.

Please share your story or thoughts if you’ve had this experience in your job search.

2 Responses to “Head Trash That Can Hurt Your Job Search”

  1. The issue is not “should we have negative thoughts?” The trick is how to not have them. Do you have any tips on how to banish the negative thoughts?

    I heard a lecture recently from a man who suggested that many times a day, we should ask ourselves this question: “Is what I am doing right now adding meaning to my life or making me happy?” If the answer is no, then stop. TV is a classic example.

    When you are immersed in a self-pity party, recognize that your brain is seeking a way to find pleasure. Shake your body hard, and concentrate on something that gives you pleasure and imagine how you will get there.

    Imagine that your job is to get a job. Plan it. Create a Gantt chart and use other planning tools that you know. Make it into a job.

    If you can’t get out of despair, then get professional help. Get over the idiotic, “I can tough it out” mentality. This is not the time for toughing things out. This is the time for solutions.

    Exercise every time you get down. So have equipment around or a stair case or something physical you can do. Measure the progress of your physical body. For example, I have a rowing machine. Each time I get down, I get on it for about 5 minutes. I push until I stop thinking.

    Volunteer. Get out of your head and help someone else.

    Review your finances in great depth. Understand all outflows and investments deeply. This is a great chance to create new cash flows. Remember, a penny saved really, really is a penny earned.

  2. Rod McDermott says:

    Great thoughts William. Well said. I’m a big believer in having a plan and working a plan as a way to get you out of your predicament. It’s worked for me my whole life and my entire career. I feel like if I’m in control, I can make a difference, and if I’m not, what am I doing here.

    Thanks for sharing your comments.


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