Success is not always something you necessarily find when you arrive. It may be the journey that gets you there.
It seems as though people make career management more difficult than it has to be. When something threatens to make it simple, they almost invariably find a way to make it more complicated. For example, in recent years there's been much more activity in the small- to mid-size companies, yet the majority of people looking into a job change or career move continues to scour the newspapers, all the while complaining there are so few meaningful opportunities. If they had the resources to scan the 300 leading newspapers and publications in the U.S. daily, they'd still find relatively few meaningful opportunities.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, historically, most of the better positions are never advertised. 60 to 80 percent of the meaningful jobs go unadvertised. If the same people would only get out into the market and make some new friends' (contacts), they'd see new opportunities, perhaps just around the corner.
Easier said than done? Unfortunately, yes. Most of us have never been trained in this sort of work. Even the most senior managers may be novice in a job change or career search and can become discouraged. Still, there are a couple of basic concepts that, understood, can make job searching less complicated.
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One is to begin replacing the hours you spend scanning the classifieds with meaningful, face-to-face discussion. In discussion with others, like yourself, you will likely find access to the activity created by movement and happenings in the small to mid-size market. Keep this in mind: Within everyone you meet, you are likely to discover a far more helpful, energetic and interesting person you may have thought him or her to be. Just give them a chance. All it takes is a little bit of encouragement and direction, which is another key concept. That is, most people like to help others; it's human nature to help others. We just don't always know how. Tell them how and they will help.
Here are some practical suggestions when connecting:
- Don't begin by asking for advice: Offer suggestions first; provide ideas before asking for any.
- Get to know others before you ask them to know you.
- Don't ask others to be creative or perceptive for you; it's too much work. Be intuitive, recognizing of course, that given the chance, they'll manage to complicate this thing as well.
- Be clear about your own ideas - be focused.
- Get ready. The question, 'what are you looking to do' can befuddle the unsuspecting person forcing a response that is weak, irrelevant or even fatal.
- Move people towards embracing your ideas by listening carefully to theirs. Look people in the eye and reflect on what you are hearing.
- Don't judge.
- Ask yourself, Is the message getting across; is the content clear?
- Don't use jargon. If someone understands it, they won't be impressed; if they don't, they'll take out a book and read.
- Take your ideas, and those you accumulate, to the next contact, and so, and so on and so on.
- Keep this maxim in mind at all times: You must first build a relationship before you can do business.
Like most career professionals, you have a vision for moving onward and upward. Unfolding a career is like charting a new frontier and sometimes equally as difficult to predict and control. What are your ideas? What do you want to do with them? How do you want to go about it; when?
Before you spend hundreds of hours hunting for success, spend a few defining it. Consider some of history's greatest athletes: gold medal Olympians. Early on in their lives they set goals. From then on they squashed everything in their lives that didn't pertain to those goals, and went on to win the gold!