Saturday, November 28, 2009

5 Little Monkeys

My kids love the song, "Five Little Monkeys." Even if you don't have kids, you've likely heard it at some point in your life. It's a counting song. You start with five little monkeys jumping on the bed. One falls off and bumps his head. Mama calls the doctor and the doctor says, "no more monkeys jumping on the bed." The song then moves on to four little monkeys jumping on the bed. The inevitable happens, one falls off, is injured and mom has to call the doctor again. The doctor repeats his advice that the monkeys no longer be allowed to jump on the bed. The mom, who must take in advice with cotton filled ears, makes no changes to her kids' form of entertainment. The song repeats itself until all of her five children have been injured by her inability to follow the doctor's sound advice.

It makes me wonder why she bothered to keep picking up the phone and calling the doctor. She knew what he was going to say. She knew the root of the problem. Reaching out to an authority on children's health wasn't going to change a thing since the real issue lay in her commitment to take advice, change course and put an end to this vicious cycle.

I have to confess, there are times when I'm giving advice to job seekers I feel like that doctor on the phone repeating, to the point of blue lips, how an action someone is taking is damaging, counterproductive, futile or what have you. The job seeker thinks enough of my knowledge to solicit recommendations from me, but not enough to implement them. It's not that the individual disagrees with my take. Quite the opposite. I'm often told how much sense my recommendations make. What stops people short is the fear of stepping out of their comfort zone. It can be a painful process. The thing is, it's worth it in the end. When you weigh how painful remaining in one's comfort zone can be against trying something new that stands a chance of giving better results, it's a no brainer to me.

The monkeys' mom was used to letting her kids jump on the bed. No matter the carnage, that was the norm so that's what she stuck with. Listening to the doctor and coming up with another plan may have taken work and required an adjustment to her day, but it would have spared her little monkeys bumps and bruises.

Job seekers, don't be the monkeys' mama. There is no need to stick to your routine and endure the pain that goes along with doing so. When you reach out to experts with the knowledge and contacts to help you, grab on to what they have to offer and take that leap. Listen the first time and spare yourself the consequences of putting off much needed adjustments to your job search.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Stop Looking For What You Lost

There are several documentaries running right now showcasing individuals struggling to find work in this economic mess. It doesn't go unnoticed many are in the 50+ crowd. To their credit, they are shown at various networking functions and support groups. Getting out of the house is a big step.

Still, I find myself frustrated and practically shouting at the television screen at times. Footage runs of individuals standing up in front of various groups or talking one-on-with others and relaying what types of opportunities they are looking for. Yay for being brave and getting the word out, but almost every time the person is talking about what they've done in the past and how they are hoping to find something similar. Guess what, something similar might not exist anymore! Using the time you have in front of others to ask for help finding something like what you had isn't a good strategy.

Older candidates have a wealth of experience under their belts that is valuable and transferable to all sorts of situations. The key is to stop living in the past and look to the future. Examine what you have to bring to the table in general terms, weigh it against current business, social and political happenings and figure out where you fit. Where are your skills and abilities most likely to be relevant? How can you help a company or organization survive and grow through the next few years?

Now more than ever job seekers have to be part of the idea process. They have to be the ones showing a paralyzed business community how making a hire right now, namely them, is necessary and will benefit everyone in the end. The mood at the moment is more that businesses need to start hiring so people won't lose their homes and so people can feel useful again. Businesses aren't charities though. They can't hire from the heart, they have to hire from the balance sheet. Job seekers who have taken a time to truly consider how they can positively affect a company's balance sheet, regardless if that company is advertising for openings or not, have an edge.

Forget about what you've done in the past. Stop looking for what you lost. Instead, focus on the experience you've gained along the way and dissect it to the point you are able to pull from it evidence you have what it takes to help a company's cash position. I can't think of a business owner who wouldn't be willing to give an ear, and possibly a job, to someone with a clear plan on how to make a company more successful.