After many jobs, I was lucky to come across ‘career counseling.’ It did more for me than anything before or since. My resume improved a thousand fold and doors opened. I made a list of the main points (which people pay a lot to learn) and gave them to friend and foe. They apply to all levels of work:
- The right work fills you, the wrong work drains you. You want a job you enjoy as you’ll spend a third of your life working.
- Follow your interests, not your abilities.
- Volunteer work is a good way to test your interests. Be sure it’s doing what you want and that your work will be noticed.
- Good jobs require judgment; you’re paid for decisions.
- Start a job hunt if you haven’t been promoted within the first year or the day you stop growing in your job.
- The best people are continually on the move.
- Your loyalty is not to the company, but to yourself and your talent. Many careers are handicapped when a person follows the feelings of others. (Most people are living for others.)
- Job hunting is harder than working, yet it can be one of your best experiences.
- Most people go to career counseling prepared to get their old job back.
- Most people know a lot about their jobs and little about selling (presenting) themselves. Most spend 90% of their time running around and 10% on research, when it should be the opposite.
- With this approach, you select the company and the kind of people you need to be around, and you handle the interview and the salary negotiations confidently.
- Knowing what we want is difficult because our culture trains us to conform. To find out, don’t dwell on past mistakes. Instead: (a) Make a list of what you feel your real achievements have been starting with your earliest memory. In the many things you’ve done, you’ve been better at some tasks than others. Listing these reveals a pattern of success.
(b) Write an obituary showing how you’d like to be remembered.
(c) Write three or four want ads for dream jobs.
(a) shows what you can do, (b) what you want to do, and (c) what you should do. These force you to be honest with yourself and to learn who you are and what you want. They help you rediscover and capitalize on your uniqueness, which is what you’re selling; and they help you develop clout.
- You don’t need personnel offices nor employment agencies.
- For the clerical part (if you don’t have the time), hire a secretarial service.
- This saves filling out applications.
- The chronological resume is an obituary; it sells the past. The ‘functional’ resume sells the future. It shows how you have helped your employers and developed yourself. It’s a sale, not a confession; you don’t have to mention time gaps, past salaries, problems, etc. It is one of your most important documents. By continually revising it, you learn why and how to toot your horn. No one else can; no one else will. You discover and capitalize on your uniqueness. As it evolves, you evolve as you’re finding out what you want and can do.
- Temporary work with odd hours gives you free time for interviews.
- One technique is to ‘interview for information’ asking experts what the trends are and where there might be openings.
- Another is the ‘proposal.’ Ask experts in your field their biggest problems. Work out solutions and reapproach them. This can lead to a job.
- It is not so much who you know as knowing what you know and finding the person who needs it. You’re looking for him; he’s looking for you. This is part of being in the right place at the right time with more or less the right credentials.
- If you meet half the requirements, apply for the job. Engage the secretary in conversation. Remember her name and make sure she remembers yours.
- Keep in mind most employers don’t employ people older than themselves, and you’re more salable if employed.
- Arrange interviews with key people, remembering the higher up you go, the nicer they are.
- 8O% of the good job openings are hidden. Finding them is not who you know, but knowing what you have to offer and finding the person who needs it.
- Interviews are two people sizing up each other; the more informal, the better. If you feel awkward, you’re trying to please him. Treat him as an equal.
- Put your feelings first: there is nothing selfish in a good business relationship.
- Don’t bare your soul. Think before answering. Watch your body language and eye contact. Be brief and to the point. Don’t knock your employer. Don’t bluff; bluffers don’t know who they are. Don’t assume an employer knows exactly what he wants in a person. Try to figure out his hidden agenda and appeal to it.
- Look for a company where you are on the same wave length – where you feel comfortable. This is vital. You can wade through many inter¬views before finding it.
- Never accept a job based purely on need; don’t negotiate from a weak position.
- Your eventual salary will be 40-60% of what you came down from and what he came up from.
- First-rate people hire first-rate people. Second-rate people hire third-rate people.
- Any worthwhile employer will check references. The best are those which give a balanced view of your good and bad points.
- The man who does not equate his job with security is free to put his job on the line. This independence is what employers need most.
- Your best security is yourself.
- You may want to move to where there are more opportunities for your type of work. Have a back up plan in case things don’t turn out.
- If you can’t find the job you want, create it.
- Watch out for games employers play: Now I have a job; now I don’t. I want unheard of qualifications. Would you mind coming on temporarily in a lesser capacity or doing work beneath or above your level? Avoid these.
- When employed, don’t let the firm give you work you can’t handle (the Peter principle).
- You shouldn’t need to ask for a promotion. If you do, send a memo to your boss. If there is no response, send one to his boss.
These are the highlights. I have seen many approaches to self help, and this is one of the best. Few know of it, fewer will do the work, but there isn’t a better investment.
One of the best books on this: What Color is Your Parachute?, by Richard Bolles (l0 speed press)
You might also find help in the yellow pages under ‘Career & Vocational Counseling.’