Thursday, March 14, 2013

Obstacles in Your Way, Part I

I hear it all the time - people explain to me why they fail to make progress finding a good job or get ahead, prevented from finding success. They go to great pains, telling me all the reasons why they can’t seem to get ahead. I understand it’s difficult out there and for the last few years it seems as if there are more hoops to jump through and, increasingly it seems you need permission to do anything because there are people everywhere telling you what you can or can’t accomplish. The act of searching for a new job has always been a task but it was always an exercise in which, if you made the efforts, used your head and applied a measure of innovation here and there whenever possible, you would eventually meet with some success. Now it seems to be more like a roll of the dice and people refer to words like luck to describe what they need to find success. There sure seem to be a lot of rules now, than I remember; more things you supposedly can’t or shouldn’t do and far fewer options of what you can do on your own behalf. As a result many are quite timid about what they are willing to do for themselves, feeling as if they are fighting an uphill battle with one hand tied behind their backs. The rules seem to have changed; the lines have blurred. Or have they, really?  

Add to this frustration that there are obviously fewer available opportunities; therefore, people feel they have less options available to them. How many college grads are vying for and working in jobs that require less than the degree most have financed and will be repaying for years to come? How many people have worked and played by the rules their entire career, only to find they have to start over after their 50th birthday. How many Veterans have served exceptionally who, upon finishing their service and receiving one of the 8 copies of their DD Form 214, find they have no resources or support - talk about having to start over! What about high school grads who are considering their futures, and everyone else in between? Increasingly people feel obligated as if they have to take a job, any job, because there just aren’t any real opportunities out there. 

In truth, most of the obstacles people claim/blame, are self-imposed or merely perceived no-nos. People have handicapped themselves for fear of straying outside of some imaginary guidelines of what is acceptable behavior when trying to help themselves. To succumb to this mindset handicaps your ambition and what were once traits of self sufficiency have settled into atrophy, with lethargy descending into dependency as a result. According to much of what I hear and read, job seeking etiquette means be patient, do some online research, send a resume and wait for someone to tell you when you can stand up, sit down, move, speak and all from the comfort of your chair at home in your underwear. Gee, could Zager & Evans have been right! This passive method of job searching is adequate if you don't need a job and just want to throw a fishing line in the water, sit back and see what happens. But if you need or seek a new job and you're dumb enough to think this level of activity will get you real results, how's that working for you so far?
I’ve spent my career representing top 20 percentile job seekers, prepping and coaching them to most effectively compete against others who are also sharp, helping them to duel for and compete over the same job and win. I also help companies to identify and attract the best available talent in the marketplace, so the best qualified job seekers choose my clients over other competing companies and I am very good at it. But, increasingly I find myself helping people with not the finer points but, instead, the rudimentary basics of how they can help themselves. I find it remarkable I must convince people that they have more options available to them beyond the cut/paste/click methods of finding and pursuing job opportunities. Sorry but in reality that’s simply not good enough; it never has been and never will be. What has made people think this kind of activity will result in finding a job?  

(Part II will be posted on Monday)

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