Next week I’ll be starting to work with a new group of job seekers. It’s a two-week intensive job hunting program where twelve people receiving social assistance get the dedicated support of an Employment Counsellor in their pursuit of tracking down job leads, coaching on interviews that hopefully lead to job offers.
When they walk in on Monday morning, instead of getting down to it immediately, I’ll take the better part of two and a half hours setting up expectations. One of the things I’ll stress very early is that I’m passionate about wanting to help them as much as I can. I sincerely do want to help them realize their employment goals and become financially independent. However, I’ll also tell them one key thing; you’ve got to want it more than I want it for you.
“Find me a job”, is one common response when I ask people in this group what their expectation is of me. Finding them a job actually would take me about forty-five seconds. Helping them track down the right job that they are both qualified for and would be successful at and enjoy doing requires more time and effort. Hence, every participant has to come into that class knowing the kind of work they intend to look for. Tell me you’re looking for, ‘anything’ and that’s enough to tell me you’re not ready for this group.
Frustrating as a job search is, that roller coaster ride of looking for a job has got to be anticipated. Hard to have ups in other words if you don’t have the downs with which to contrast the two. What I really like about this time of the program – a few days prior – is the hope and anticipation that it gives to those who will attend next week. A prolonged job search usually robs people of hope over time, and so the prospect of getting some support and guidance, the chance to perhaps find out what you may have been doing wrong and correcting it, are key parts to raising their hopes.
Okay so what exactly would someone looking for a job get in terms of content in an intensive two weeks? We’ll look of course at targeting resumes, writing directed and powerful cover letters. Learning how to interview so you become memorable is in here too, but only after we first examine what an interview actually is in and of itself, what you have control over (more than you’d imagine), and what you don’t. How to conduct research on companies, current employees, culture, the job itself are covered. Social media and how to exploit it to your advantage with a strong emphasis on LinkedIn, plus the more traditional methods of job searching such as job boards, job sites on the web, newspapers and networking are all covered.
There’s also segments on problem-solving, conflict resolution, maintaining a relationship with a job coach even after the job starts, building trusting relationships, what employers are looking for in 2014, the pros and cons of both age and using temporary agencies. We’ll look at how to address tough interview questions; “Why’d you leave your last job?”, “Explain this gap on your resume?” “Why should I hire you?” and the most often asked question, “Tell me about yourself.”
There’s time spent on gathering references, tracking your job search, learning from failure, determining the style of leadership you’d function best under, clothing choices, grooming, non-verbal communication and the whole before, during and after the interview routine. And if this sounds like a full two weeks already, consider that for the bulk of the days, clients are expected to job search. It’s the client who has to actually do the job of looking for a job. You see, when they get the call inviting them to an interview, I want them to feel good about having got it themselves. When they get offered the job and give me credit, I want to pay it back and tell them they got it themselves because I wasn’t there with them. You CAN build someone’s self-respect and self-esteem and then…look what they can accomplish!
But all of the above, (and there’s more content I assure you) is only going to eventually lead to securing a good job or career if the person wants it more than I want it for them. It starts with an attitude of hunger; you have to want work. It also means being open to honest feedback and having your shortcomings pointed out to you and then choosing to do something about them instead of becoming defensive. It’s about having a positive attitude in the wake of employer rejections, knowing that with each and every job you research and apply to you are learning and getting better at doing things for yourself in the best way possible.
That little voice of doubt that whispers in your ear that you’ll fail? Everybody who has ever lived has probably had that voice whisper to them from time to time. Small successes; one built on another, can build momentum and silence that voice, replacing it with a voice that speaks much louder, “NOT ONLY CAN I DO IT, I DID IT!”
But for now, wanting it bad is a good start. Next up; putting into action what wanting alone will not achieve.