Action Leads. Attitude Follows.
A typical Monday morning in my life begins like this: Around 9 AM, the phone rings. The caller is confused and anxious, and he wants a job change immediately — preferably by yesterday. His voice is frantic and he keeps throwing the word “ASAP” into the conversation. Everything has to be ASAP, he says. I listen patiently and I dish out my scripted response – “I’ll see what I can do.”
If you deconstruct and study a job search from start to finish, you’ll see that it’s an equation – an equation that has several variables. Some variables are within your control, and many are outside your control. One of the most fundamental variables is the attitude of the job seeker, and this, fortunately, is within your control. While the quality of the job seeker’s CV, his credentials, his references, all matter, what most don’t understand is that the foundation, the bedrock of “job search success,” is the attitude of the candidate.
A candidate who is lousy on the attitude front, will seldom be able to get past the first round. However, a candidate who is average on the skills front, and top-notch on the attitude front, will make remarkable progress.
The world is full of people who will tell you that you are only as good as your attitude. Yet, how many truly practice this maxim. It’s easier said than done!
So how does a candidate keep his head and attitude up during trying times? Here are 2 sure-shot ways of building a positive attitude:
1. Follow a Process:
A process is a step-by-step procedure towards achieving a desired result. A job search can be vexing if you don’t know where to begin or what to do next. A process removes confusion and anxiety, helps you stay organized, and most importantly, allows mid-course corrections.
A process is a roadmap. If you don’t have a roadmap, how can you make mid-course corrections or be confident and certain of reaching your destination? If you have the roadmap, all you have to do is drive. And sooner or later, you’ll reach your destination. Few endeavours can run successfully on luck or chance. The vast majority of endeavours, no matter what the discipline (athletics, business, music), require a structured approach.
Here are the rudiments of building a process: List the people you need to contact (recruiters, friends, peers, ex-colleagues, ex-bosses), the time you’ll devote each day to your job search, the top 3 things you must do each week to ensure success, the possible obstacles, the goal itself (be specific), the time you’ll set aside for interview preparation, the weekly metrics (number of people to connect with), etc. Then order them in a manner that makes most sense to you.
Staying true to your process can maximize your efficiency and put you in control of what you can control. And in the job search game…control is everything.
2. Get coached:
Why do companies hire consultants? For their insight. Why do star athletes and businesspersons hire coaches? For their insight.
Good insight is rare. A good coach is aware, has the intuition, the experience, and has walked the distance. A good coach has seen, first-hand, what works and what doesn’t.
If you want to win, you’ll need a coach. The best athletes, musicians, businesspersons, celebrities….have coaches. Look for the prominent examples in any discipline, and you’ll find that behind every successful individual is a hardworking coach. (Coaches come in all flavours — presentation and communication coaches, business coaches, job search coaches, etc.)
Success rests on learning, and coaching facilitates and improves learning.
I’ve spoken with lots of successful individuals (employed and the self-employed) and the vast majority have hired coaches at some point in their careers, and these moments have turned out to be the defining moments of their careers.
If you can’t afford a coach, find a reliable (and smart) friend who can assist you with your job search. Speak with him / her for an hour or two each week – talk about your progress, your obstacles and sticking points, and your fears and insecurities. Ask a lot of questions and pay attention to what your friend has to say. Take notes and outline a job search process (refer point 1 of this article). Brainstorm with your friend and fine tune it. Then, focus on what you need to do next and infuse some accountability into the process.
You’ll be surprised at how cathartic coaching can be. Coaching is a wonderful tool and I believe that it’s hard to be successful in a competitive arena (such as a job search) without a good coach.
Notice that I haven’t mentioned positive thinking anywhere — and that’s not an accident. I believe positive thinking comes from “positive doing.” Take action and you’ll thrive. Sit on your behind and tell yourself sweet stories, and you’ll barely survive. A positive attitude cannot blossom in the presence of confusion and anxiety – a process-oriented approach and getting coached are the perfect antidotes to confusion and anxiety.
A positive attitude follows positive action. As you take more and more action, and stay accountable to your friend or coach, you’ll find that you are automatically refuelling your attitude tank.
Whether you want to change your job over the next 6 months, or change it ASAP, you can make life easier for yourself by incorporating these 2 elements into your game plan.