In our outplacement and career coaching programmes we talk about the importance of 'attitude' for successful job searching. In our terms, 'successful' doesn't just mean getting a job, it means getting the right job for you in a timely fashion. It means not underselling yourself or taking a role that doesn't appropriately utilise your skills, strengths and values.
Approach and Attitude
The approach we take to job searching, i.e. what we do and when we do it, is extremely important in achieving a successful outcome. The attitude which shapes that approach is also hugely important but receives much less attention.
Each year we work with hundreds of people who are facing redundancy or who are already unemployed. Our experience working with these clients has confirmed the importance of having the 'right' attitude. Those with it get new jobs significantly more quickly than those who don't. So, what is the 'right' attitude? To illustrate let's look at the unhelpful attitudes we sometimes encounter:
1. Make little or no effort
2. Don't ask for support or help
3. Be rigid and inflexible in your approach
Interestingly we find that some clients are actually making little or no effort at all in finding a new role. For example, some come onto our outplacement programmes assuming that we will just find them a new job. There may be many different factors behind this. Some clients are still struggling with redundancy and are unconsciously expressing an attitude of "I shouldn't be in this situation so why should I..." Others are coming from a feeling of utter helplessness, i.e. they feel so out of control of their situation that there is little point doing anything. In career coaching sessions we help them to recognise these thought patterns so that they see that this attitude is only hurting them and is not moving them forward positively. With support, they are then able to start coming to terms with their situation and move on.
Others seem to have the attitude that it's all easy and doesn't require any effort, or worse, reveal a sense of entitlement which again suggests that no effort is necessary or warranted - at least on their part! Recently a client on one of our outplacement programmes asked me to get some feedback from a job interview which had gone badly. It became apparent that he'd performed extremely poorly in the interview and had been unable to give anything like adequate answers to the questions. In short, he hadn't prepared properly. When we met for the feedback session he complained that they'd asked him questions he hadn't been expecting, and yet which were entirely reasonable and pertinent to the role. When we discussed preparation, it became quickly apparent that not only had he done little more than glance at the job advert, he hadn't even read the comprehensive materials provided in his outplacement programme to help him.
1. You are not owed a job. If you want to get the next job you are responsible for putting time, effort and intelligence into it. If your ex-employer hasn't provided you with outplacement assistance or you can't afford career coaching, there are still many excellent free sources of help and information available to help you (including articles like this one, websites and so on).
2. Don't make it harder than it needs to be. Do ask for help and support from family, friends and other social groups, and if necessary for professional help from career coaches and advisers. You must be willing and prepared to help yourself!
3. Be prepared to be flexible in your approach - develop a job searching strategy and plan, and keep it under review. If after a reasonable time you have not been successful, change your approach.
4. Remember that it is entirely reasonable for an employer to want to see support/evidence for your claims! Prepare appropriately - if you can't be bothered to prepare fully for an interview don't be surprised when that job goes to someone who can...
Sarah is an executive and career coach based in Cambridge, England. To learn more about our career coaching or our Career Transition programmes, or to make a one-hour consultation, contact Sarah on:
T: 01954 718037