Thursday, February 12, 2009

Looking for Work?

If you are out of work and want a job, the first step is to act as though you have one already.

It is not the time to feel needy. It is not the time to lounge around in your pajamas watching the Food Network. You should not see your current state as a vacation when you can catch up on your reading. As I and others have said, looking for a job is a job, and should be approached as such.

Even if you have enough money to coast, it is better to attack the problem with severe dedication. Hunt down jobs; do not wait for them to materialize out of thin air.

Next, wrap your mind around the new reality. In normal times you would be selective about what job you would accept. These are not normal times.

Given that so many people are looking for work, it is better not to play coy. Especially when others will jump at the opportunity. Coy does not enhance your value; it makes you look self-absorbed and indecisive.

Today's imperfect job can morph into something better. Offices where people behaved badly in the past are becoming places that value courtesy and collegiality. Recessions have a way of making psychodrama feel empty and gratuitous.

It is always easier to get a job when you have a job. Having a suboptimal job might make it easier for you to get another job. Having something is always better than having nothing.

But, won't your reputation suffer for being associated with an inferior company? Yes and no. If your work enhances the value of the company, you will look very good indeed. And besides, having a job looks better on your resume than the blank space describing the time when you were out of work.

Define your attitude and approach by a slogan I offered in other posts: Don't sell yourself. Buy them.

Know about the company you are approaching. When you are interviewed show them how much you admire what they are doing. Show that you know their culture, their history, and the value of their work.

Do not brag about how great you are. If they want a reference they are not going to call on you.

Let your achievements speak for themselves. Have a chart or a graph or a scrapbook or a series of reports that show what you have accomplished and how it has affected the bottom line.

Beyond your value lies your values. Act with decorum and courtesy at every stage of the interview process. In that way you will show that you are respectful and considerate. Thus, that you expect to be treated accordingly.

Above all banish the phrase-- What about my needs?-- from your mind and your conversation.

The kind of self-puffery that has been relentlessly promoted by the self-esteem mavens is the surest way I know to consign you to permanent unemployment.

No one wants to deal with people who are seething with resentments about their unfulfilled needs. There are people who you can hire to deal with your needs. A company is hiring you to deal with their needs.

By helping a company to grow and prosper, you will gain enjoyment. If you start out trying to negotiate your vacation days, they will understand where your priorities lie and will most likely respect them... by offering someone else the job.

1 comment:

Jonathan K. said...

Mr. Schneiderman hits the nail on the head with this post. I have been both a candidate and an interviewer for an open job. I have found the most successful interviews to be from candidates who have done their homework, show true interest in the open position, and are quietly confident in their abilities. The resume gets you in the door, but congeniality and a sense of trustworthiness get you the job. A good interviewer can smell bitterness and hubris a mile away. If interested, I recommend also reading Mr. Schneiderman's interveiw found by following the link below to the archived blog called "Confidence Men."