The Titanic ship, the Enron Corporation, and the 2008 Global Financial Crisis all bear some semblance and it isn’t the fact that each crashed at a time or the other. Each had a prevailing mindset that helped its crash. “God himself could not sink this ship!” This quotation, made famous by Cameron’s film (The Titanic), is reputed to have been the answer given by a deck hand when asked if Titanic was really unsinkable.
The key players in these three examples went from over-confidence to carelessness and even greed in the latter two. Their mindset simply said “we are the greatest and so what”. The mindset that we bear has profound effect on the results that we encounter. Thus the mindset that you bring to your job search has far-reaching impact on your effectiveness. Many have lost opportunities to land their desired jobs because they were hampered by an unhelpful mindset.
The purpose of this treatise is to help you or your audience increase effectiveness with their job search or career change by identifying mindsets that enable or upend their quests. Mindset is defined as a fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person’s response to and interpretation of a situation or an inclination or a habit (ref. thefreedictionary.com). It is easy to see that it is a mental attitude; it is fixed (fortunately or unfortunately) and it “predetermines a person’s responses and interpretations”.
Your mindset is either helping or hindering you because it pre-selects your understanding and your actions. The mindset of capital market traders before the global crash of 2008 is different from the mindset they have today. Your mindset is your default program (your view of life) and it thus defines your approach and calibrates your efforts. Mindset matters.
The mindset required for overall effectiveness in your job search has been codified into what I call “Getting a Job is a Job”. This means you should treat your job search or career change as a job. When looking for a job or seeking a career transition, you should see yourself as employed – you have the job of getting a job or the job of changing a job. This would give a certain structure and focus to your job search that is unbelievable. It is a job, so you are employed in the ‘Office of Getting a Job is a Job’.
Your overall job objective is to become the type of person sort by top firms and to secure a job for you within the next three months. Every well-meaning job, as this one, requires discipline, hard work, goal-setting and follow through. The other day a young man met me after a seminar where I was teaching these principles just to say that his job search was a bit more challenging because he felt he has an academic qualification that usually precludes him from being favourably considered. I told him not to be bothered by this challenge.So I asked him what he really wanted to do and interestingly he had some clarity about that – and it had nothing to do with his course of study.
We agreed that he needed to get more information and so we started to communicate by email. In the emails I asked him to research and let me know the different type of jobs he could do with his area of interest. After that I asked for a list of companies and individuals that were top players in the field. All of a sudden I didn’t get any other emails and I didn’t hear from him for a long time. Only to run into him much later and guess what I told him? “You have absconded from work”.
Like most organisations have an arm that produces (called production or the factory) and another that markets (called marketing or sales) so also it is with this ‘organisation’ that you work with. Your own production activities include tasks that help you to get ready such as spending time researching and reading up on companies, industries and professions of interest.
For example, for the industry that interests you find out how the industry is stratified – who are the top, middle and lower players – how do they make money and lose money (what keeps them awake at night?); who are the regulators; what are the defining regulations in the last 5-10 years; what is the typical recruitment process; what do they look out for in candidates etc. Here under production activities, you would also be researching and pondering you – your goals, your values, your purpose, strengths, skills, plans etc. This is the time to also prepare for selection tests and interviews.
In essence production time is preparation and get-ready time – and this covers most of your ‘working’ week. The ‘getting a job is a job’ mindset also delineates some activities as marketing, involving all tasks that help you show, sell, and communicate your value. Here you need to concern yourself with networking, network mining, dress sense, informational interviews, etc. Networking is about ensuring that you are sufficiently in circulation: attending seminars, trade shows, job fairs, staying in touch, etc. Network mining is a subset of networking. The objective here is to unearth and maximize the potential value within your personal network of friends, relations, professional colleagues, alma maters, church and mosque brethren, clubs, you name it. And your task is to recruit them as advocates.
Under a combination of production and marketing activities, please consider looking for various avenues for creatively showcasing or investing your Passion, your Energy, your Time and your Skills (PETS). Find a cause, or a vulnerable group, or a not-for-profit organisation to volunteer to work for. Bring your organisation skills to bear in their midst. Or bring your marketing skills to bear on their products/services. Even bring your passion for service to bear on their customer relationship management.
Apart from volunteering, you could also work for free. So what is the difference, you may ask? When you volunteer you are saying to them, “I am available to help you” and thus you let them know the days and times that you would be available. When you approach an organisation proposing to work for free, you are essentially saying, “Please let me join your workforce without a salary” and after they agree, you make yourself available throughout the working week, just like a regular staff.
In both cases you do not earn a salary but in the latter you are an employee. Why should anyone consider working for free anyway? When you elect to work for free you are working for access, working for skills and certainly working for experience. It means that it is an opportunity to gain access into an industry or a profession; also a chance to develop or deepen your skills and thereby begin to amass work experience. And don’t forget that while you are on this free job you get the added benefit of being able to put the name of that firm on your resume under “work experience”.
Now that reminds me of the other I was invited to speak at a seminar. Like you may have guessed my talk was titled getting a job is a job. Then another speaker was given the floor. He happened to be a business owner and he told us that his organisation was doing turnovers within the sixty million naira mark at that time. He told us that he has a philosophy. That any time a candidate for interview, sits in front of their panel of interviewers and they ask that question.
Remember that question? “Tell us about yourself”. Immediately the person begins and gets to the point where he or she says they haven’t been doing anything, he stops the interview there and then. He said you cannot not be doing nothing. Get involved doing something but do not be idle in the marketplace. Work for your aunty in her small shop; assist your godfather in his business or volunteer with some people or even work for free for that firm. Just do something.
Like every job you also need to employ work organisation tools like plans, goals, targets and checklists. Draft a plan, have weekly goals, and daily targets with checklists. “My plan this week is to meet with the three people that my aunty referred me to in the Oil and Gas industry. My checklist shows that my clothes are starched and ironed. It indicates that I don’t know how to get to Chevron in Lekki but would ask my neighbor who works on the island.Next week I am spending all week on GMAT, Larcombes Class 6 Arithmetic and those online tests. My checklist shows that I have contacted Fatai to assist me with the calculation portion where I know I have some deficiency. I have also set an alarm on my phone so as to remind Brother Chuks to loan me his Starcomms internet modem for the week”.
The alternative to this structured and focused methodology is the ‘anywhere-belle-face’ strategy or mindset i.e. an unplanned un-proactive lax approach that is dependent upon the happenings or news of the day. The idea of ‘getting a job is a job’ is hinged upon the belief that 1) employers are in constant search for good people, so there are jobs out there, 2) since 99.9% of jobs are given out through a process called ‘the recruitment process’ it means an understanding of the process is an advantage, and leads me to No. 3) your efforts at preparation can make the difference. You can have a group of people faced with the same challenge and their mindsets would differ – one can consciously choose the mentality that ‘getting a job is a job’ while the other would unconsciously choose the ‘anywhere-belle-face’.
The other day, as described in Move Ahead with Possibility Thinking by Robert Schuller, a group faced a challenge and had to make a decision. Within the group two different mindsets surfaced. They wanted to build a property but it would require them to own a large piece of land. “A real estate salesman called me [Robert Schuller] with an offer for a land: “If you are serious about your plan, I know where you can buy ten good acres of land for sixty-six thousand dollars, nineteen thousand down and four hundred a month for fifteen years. If you will put one thousand dollars down now to open a 120 day escrow you can have it.
If in the 120 day escrow period you do not succeed in coming up with the balance of the down payment or another eighteen thousand dollars, you will, of course, forfeit the thousand dollars with which you have officially accepted the purchase offer. The proposal was placed with the group for deliberation. There were those who wanted to play it safe. “Let’s not agree to buy land until we have the total nineteen thousand dollars down payment. Let’s not risk losing a thousand dollars.
A sharply contrary opinion was offered: “Let’s accept the offer tonight. We have eleven hundred dollars in the bank. Let’s take one thousand and trust that in the next 119 days we can come up with the eighteen thousand to complete the down payment. Let’s not risk losing the opportunity. If we wait until we have the entire nineteen thousand it may be too late.” So it became an argument between two mindsets: ‘let’s not risk losing a thousand dollars versus let’s not risk losing the opportunity’. Mindset matters. Mindset informs belief and belief dictates actions.
Stay tuned for part two!