Monday, January 6, 2014

Doing Nothing is the Easiest Option

It is easy to find reasons to do nothing about virtually anything. Even when doom stares someone in the face many will do nothing. But let’s not be overdramatic, my focus has to do with advising people who seek new jobs, to provide more substantive counsel beyond the lame and hollow mainstream advice that, in my opinion, suggests little other than more internet-based activities. Or the pseudo-suggestion of throwing even more of resumes to the four winds and then sitting on your hands, fingers crossed, waiting for someone to call you. Sorry, but that sounds more like waiting for a fish to bite an idle hook with old bait – but it surely is not the best way to look for a job. Especially if there are many, many others nearby doing the same thing, with more people fishing than there are fish.
Some people think engaging in efforts to stand apart or to stand out is akin to grandstanding, or they may tell themselves they are no better than anyone else. And logically speaking, if you think you are no better than others, then, you aren’t. But I am not suggesting anyone is better than anyone else per se, just different, and therein lays the logic behind my intent.
We’re not all the same and so generic solutions and suggestions meant for the masses are of little use to the individual. If you are a do-nothing kind of person, then actively seeking opportunity that is not spoon fed to you, or is not laid at your feet is probably a scary thing to consider. There are many people who, when confronted with something that is not predictably scripted and not formulaic, react by finding more reasons for why not to do something, than to do something. Too many are consumed with playing it safe; avoiding risks and, most of all, avoid bringing unnecessary attention upon themselves. It doesn’t make it any easier that we are surrounded by others telling us to comply, to compromise our goals because well, we just expect too much. They speak of individuality as though it is an affliction rather than a character trait. Here’s an example: tell someone that you are not happy about your current job and their reflexive answer might be, “You’re lucky to have a job”. Furthermore, there are many who think the world is against them, having convinced themselves the proverbial they are erecting obstacles to their pursuits and well-being, when in reality there is only one primary culprit that holds them back – themselves. Often I speak with very capable people who talk themselves out of doing what they originally claimed they wanted.
Guard against cynicism
Even when conducting one of the most basic of tasks reviewing job descriptions, many people find ways of disqualify themselves, disregarding opportunities for the silliest of reasons. I recently spoke to someone who considered applying for a staff-related position I shared. At first they were interested, but it didn’t take long for them to start picking it apart. For example: there was a list of 6 qualifications required to be considered and the person to whom I was speaking  felt they were weak in one of the 6; not lacking, but it was not an area in which they had strength. This, they suggested, was a reason why they doubted they would be seriously considered and, therefore, it would be a waste of time to pursue. Then, they expressed doubt because the posting showed no information specifying work hours. Really, that’s a reason not to apply? They went on to complain there was not enough information by which to make a decision. I said job descriptions meant for the public are intentionally brief and generic, with a bare minimum of information but, to no avail, they decided they would not pursue a job for which they didn’t feel worthy. I could only conclude that this person was either lazy, not in real need of a job or wanted to find an excuse not to do anything. Glass half-full cynicism comes to mind but the larger issue is the habit of finding it easier to do nothing than to risk rejection. Worse yet, some people argue more strenuously for why not to do something and how much sense does that make? So if you’re serious, get serious; no one else can or should do it for you.
My advice to you is to flip the equation and begin to find reasons why a company should consider you, rather than finding reasons why they shouldn’t or won’t. Fight the urge to negatively pre-determine the outcome. If there is a list of required qualifications and you possess most of them and lack one or maybe two, but make up for it in other (listed) areas, check it out. Please do not misunderstand, if you are not qualified don’t apply, thereby wasting both someone else’s time and yours. But if you feel strongly about your abilities, don’t let a generic list stop you. Pursue opportunities and, who knows, if you may not be an exact fit for the job for which you applied, you might just impress them so much that they might have another role in mind, which may or may not yet be publicly known. Maybe they have someone currently in place they’d replace if the right person came along, but how can you learn about it without making the attempt. I don’t mean to offend anyone but, sadly, society has produced a lot of cry babies who can’t handle a little rejection – get over it, that’s life and we don’t always get what we want the first time or second, or even third time, for that matter - yeah, and so what?
One never knows what is around the next corner, but you can’t and won’t find out if you don’t make the effort.
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