After having spent two weeks supporting a group of 10 job seekers, one of them presented me with a token of her appreciation. Her gift was a folding panel of 9 framed windows, in each of which she had hand-written a quote or made a comment about enthusiasm. It now sits on my window sill in my office.
Now the significant thing here is that for those two weeks, I kept driving home the point to everyone there that employers want to see enthusiasm from their employees and applicants. I myself was driving home that message by being enthusiastic myself. So when I found this on my desk in the room we were using on the final morning, I was sincerely touched by her generosity.
Now earlier in the week – in fact even the day before, I’d mentioned to all the people in the group that I in fact was not allowed to accept gifts from them. No, the only thing permissible would be perhaps a card of thanks. It’s an odd thing to tell a group of people that you can’t accept gifts, because it suggests to some that they should be getting you something when possibly they weren’t thinking of it at all. The reason is that those in the group are unemployed whereas I am not. So when the gift was given nonetheless, I had to get it cleared by a Supervisor in order to keep it.
I am thrilled to tell you her story because not only did she land a job, but something unexpected in addition to the job happened. Read on then, see what she did to put herself in a position to be successful, be happy for her but most of all, take the lessons yourself.
I’m going to gloss over some details just enough to give some context. The woman came to the class with emotional baggage, lots of outside stress and while she had education within the last year, practical experience in her field was a key barrier to employment. In her 40’s, she dressed like she’d been in the profession for years, looking the part she wanted so desperately to play.
Job searching daily from 9 to 2:30p.m. is mentally fatiguing, but that’s the nature of the program I was running. On two consecutive days, I was pleasantly surprised then to see her remain behind and put in an additional 30 minutes with me getting 1:1 help. She was tired to be sure, but she persevered and then the next days would show me what she worked on at home in the evenings. Now that’s a focused commitment to success.
In addition to revamping her resume and cover letter, we worked on her research, LinkedIn profile and interview skills. By working on these, there was a noticeable improvement in her self-confidence, self-esteem and self-image. As much as we were job searching together, we were also working on the reflection of the woman in the mirror.
Now she put out solid applications, each targeted to specific jobs with similar yet different requirements. No mass-produced one-size fits all resumes without cover letters here! She saw others in the group get interviews and jobs. She herself eventually got an interview, then a second and then a job offer. Oh she accepted it all right. She even negotiate a slightly higher salary than that originally presented by the employer.
When she and I last met in person, there was a change in her. She had a new stress she didn’t have before in starting a new job and wanting to succeed yes. But gone was the frustration of a fruitless job search. The, “somebody out there wants me!” feeling of being hired has taken hold. With that objective 3rd party validation, she is able to now shift from looking for a job to keeping a job; anxiety and hopelessness are replaced with positivity and growing confidence.
Now just yesterday she sent me two emails. One was a note of appreciation and to related how nice people are in the workplace and how she’s happy. The second email was a further request for guidance.
You see the LinkedIn profile we had improved both with a change in content and photo, had attracted a Talent Acquisition Specialist for a large well-respected organization. Here she had gone from someone who was unemployed and begging for a chance to show what she could do, to a woman with a job who was now attracting a second employer.
In short, going about her job search with enthusiasm herself, acting on the suggestions made to her and putting in a sincere full-time effort was yielding real measurable results. My enthusiasm had rubbed off on her for sure, but she herself had made the conscious choice to embrace going about her job search with renewed enthusiasm when she could have gone about her job search and my suggestions with skepticism.
If you are unemployed, control the things you can. Choose enthusiasm, add details to your LinkedIn profile, research employers and employees where you want to work. Get out of your sweatpants and hoodies and take pride in your appearance. Look at that photo you’re presenting to the world – would you be motivated to interview the person you see?
When you are enthusiastic you can still be a realist; just go about your day throwing yourself into what you do with your best effort. Make sure you don’t become the biggest barrier to your own job search.