Within a couple of months of substitute teaching, I subbed for a first-grade class as a regular teacher for six weeks. Despite what most people experience, it taught me valuable lessons about resources and people and today’s modern job search. By no means, what I’ll be suggesting is scientific. It’s just an observation.
For the first week, I had a mountain of resources thrown at me. I mean, I could have used a different resource for every day of the school year. Yet, I was not offered how to facilitate except through what I could glean through the other first-grade teachers who actually saved me.
In short, the more the kids learned deeply about the few tools, the more engaged they were in my class. If you have ever taught school, you wouldn’t believe how important engagement is to a teacher. It’s everything. I probably broke all of the expectations of what they should have been learning per the curriculum, but my job was easy because I understood the price of getting and keeping the attention of six and seven years old. It expends your energy as much as being a parent with two small kids.
The other revelation was the number of toys, educational gadgets, and stuff in a classroom. It diminishes imagination. The more engaged students only cared about one or two toys. The more distracted students will pull out seven or eight toys to only leave around the room.
I think job seekers succeed with a few tools and resources deeply. Offering a ton of “toys” is distracting and unproductive.
So, the valuable lesson I learned about people…
I get so many requests for help, to answer questions, and suggestions for resources. The job seekers who seem to understand the most about job search and experience use tools and resources they access deeply. The ones who are constantly at work to understand are looking for more tools and resources and lack action. The latter are job seekers who are the kids who pull out seven or eight toys and never use them to their potential.
Results take patience, which you have, but don’t employ.
Start here with tools, resources, tips, strategies you can do more deeply:
My friend Marc Miller suggests the sweet spot is in the 2nd and 3rd-week tie connections. You deepen your network through introductions of people who know other people. It’s never been easier to ask for email introductions or even to introduce yourself on LinkedIn. Just be tactful and respectful.
2. Research deeply
The job site and the company’s website is limited in gathering information about the company. You find out more about the company in real-time from current employees and even deeper from past employees on the same team. Even during the interview process, continue meeting employees and gain as much insight about the company, interviewer, or names dropped during the interview. If you are approaching your interview process knowing the problem(s) they want you to solve, the more people will help bring insight into how you would solve their problems.
3. Question deeply
The deeper you understand the company’s problems, the more value you can offer the company relevant to them. It’s better to ask questions that stem from two or three questions rather than five or six different questions. Starting with questions that start with “how” and “what” goes further than “why.” “How” and “what” in most cases will provide more intel than “why,” which puts them on the defensive. Of course, there are times to ask “why,” but if you’re gathering information initially, the more information, the better.
You might be able to add more depth to this conversation as you think about the companies and industries you’re interested in, but this will get you started. If you’re frustrated with your job search, you’ll need to creatively dig deeper and maybe wider. More tools may overwhelm you.
Your job search should be a lifestyle. But, unfortunately, there are too many components to ignore in 2021 and beyond.
I bet your references and mentors are perpetually in motion.
References can be that landmine if you didn’t vet them, what they will speak to, and share the value you are adding to the inquiring company. Employers want to be assured you can solve their problem, and your reference needs to speak to how you effectively solved past ones.
Some of your references are mentors who will have progressed in their careers in similar ways you would like to. But I bet you call them to mentor, and you’re unaware of how they successfully navigate their career.
You can learn from them, so it’s a good idea to keep them engaged. But if it’s been more than 10 years since they worked with you, find five to seven references you’ve worked with more recently who can also vouch for you.
Simply, references if not vetted or relevant to the problem you’ll solve for the employer is hazardous to your job search.
Think about it:
How many of your references have worked with you in the last 5 years? The last 10 years?
Think of the technology, what you’ve learned, and the life changes in the last two years?
I’ll let that simmer with you. It’s time to get new references if you are convincing employers and recruiters of your value. Your references need to match your relevance no matter your age.
Remove the landmines
On #JobSeekerNation this past week, we talked about landmines in your job search and during the interview process. You can see the entire show here.
Here are other landmines that can entrap you and make your job search more difficult:
I tell a story about a client who once lied to her potential employer. But, first, let’s say that a “white lie” is still a lie if it misrepresents you and your integrity.
Afraid of Potential Consequences of Being Fired
The most successful CEO has been let go due to performance. It’s not because they didn’t work hard. I offer some suggestions here that should help you overcome the antiquated narrative about being fired.
Sharing accomplishments that help your potential employer
What sells you sharing expected results and strategies used to get the job done. The more you offer showing how thoughtful you are, increasing the chances of continued conversations. Using words like “great” or “excellent” matters less if the stories you share demonstrate elements an employer needs.
Being unteachable and unflexible
Nobody wants to hire someone who stays stuck in their own mud. But, that’s how a good leader or manager will see someone who doesn’t absorb new information and doesn’t customize a current strategy to fit the situation.
You don’t listen
Most people try to listen for words that seem wrong. You have to listen for what people don’t say because there’s much intel to gather from silence or omission. You can actually listen for the intent of an omission through your silence and being present in the moment.
There are opportunities left on the table because job candidates are not as thoughtful and reflective of what an employer says. And it often shows through the lack of engagement and discernment from the application process to the reference checks. It is possible to defuse the mines before they go off by investing time into what the employer wants and needs.