I am often asked by potential clients what my success rates are. They usually follow with, “I know it can be hard to say…”
The truth is that with the right planning, marketing collateral, and job search strategies, job searching and career transitioning can be easy. And it is for A LOT of people that hire me to help them. However, for some it is not.
So why is it easy for some but hard for others? Let’s take a look.
Generally speaking, the job seekers who enjoy an easy experience have these things in place:
- They know what they want and where they are going. They are focused on a particular industry and title. They align themselves with opportunities: industries that have solid growth and a good long-term economic outlook. They fish where the fish are.
- If they are changing industries, they have a game plan and now what they need to do to keep moving forward toward their goal. This could include establishing a stronger foothold with the thought leadership in their industry of choice, or immersing themselves in new associations or additional certifications. In other words, they are on it. They hustle.
- They take responsibility for their job search. They are fully aware that they are the ones who are responsible for not only implementing strategies, but keeping a leadership/positive attitude. They realize that they are the only ones who have the power to maintain that.
- They are willing to learn and embrace new job search strategies that help them leverage themselves in the market. They hire certified professional help, because they know that help and support accelerates their results.
- They understand marketing 101. Much like how businesses spend roughly 10% for their marketing budget, executives should set aside at least 1% to properly market themselves in their job search; and just like a business, they expect a much higher return for their investment.
So who calls and emails me telling me I helped them change industries, get 50k pay increases or triple their salaries? It’s these guys and gals. Is there a guarantee their salary will increase by 5k or 100k? No, but we can minimize the guessing through good strategy and planning, which is why the large majority of my clients land in this category!
For those job seekers who have difficulties, it may be that they are:
- Looking in an industry that is in decline or in an economically soft geographical area, and for whatever reason, are unwilling to change or move.
- Call it quits too soon. They unfortunately try something once or twice and give up when “it doesn’t work” instead of reaching out for help. They end up trying so many things, they can’t get any traction.
- Struggling with maintaining a positive attitude, which has a boomerang effect.
- Unwilling to step up and perform the extra effort it takes to move into a new industry.
- Expecting to get all of their interviews by submitting to jobs on job boards.
I am sure there are other factors I haven’t covered here, but the main point is that it all comes down to a positive attitude. We have much more control of our destiny – at least when it comes to our career transitions – then perhaps we realize!
Here is a question I have been asked repeatedly by my executive Baby Boomer clients: “Can you help me find a job in today’s market… at my age?”
Certainly there is a valid reason for my clients to ask this – after all, we have heard about age discrimination. For some Boomers, there is a real belief that there are “no jobs out there” for them, and that they are being replaced by younger talent, with more relevant skills, at a more attractive salary (for the company).
Just like anything else, there is some truth here, and more in some industries than others. However, what is more important to understand is that in my 17 years of leadership as a recruiter, job search coach and resume writer, I have learned that it is our perception and ability to look at challenges as opportunities to leverage oneself that will move mountains.
High achievers, leaders, and those who seek opportunity where others see only bleakness and failure: these are the people we should look to for inspiration regarding what is possible. I have seen many executives talk themselves out of opportunities; casting one good marketing idea after another aside, because they “have already tried that and it didn’t work,” or they “don’t believe that could work,” or “it won’t work for their industry,” or, or, or… If you have ever been around someone that is in this frame of mind, you will instantly feel exhausted.
It doesn’t have to be that way. There really is a great benefit to training your mind to entertain what is possible, to embrace what is positive, and to recalibrate the way you see, try and understand marketing 101. Any kind of marketing is primarily comprised of “failure.” How you perceive it and are attached to it emotionally has a direct connection to your resolve.
For example, my late friend and mentor, Mark Hovind, who was a retired CEO for an international oil and gas company (in his late 50’s at the time of this story), test drove his theory on direct mail with his management consulting business. He used Google Maps to find 50 companies in Las Vegas who would be a good match for him, printed out 50 letters addressed to the president and 50 maps showing him where to go to physically drop off the letters.
The next day he spent the afternoon driving around these different companies to hand-deliver each letter. He was met with a variety of responses from, “we don’t accept solicitations,” to “the president is right over there – why don’t you hand it to him yourself?”
At the end of the day, Mark secured a $10,000/month consulting job that lasted 12 months.
So, did Mark fail because 49 companies turned him down and “didn’t want him” or did he just make $120k for 4 hours of marketing effort?
I was talking with my friend Kevin Kermes (Career Attraction) yesterday about Boomer job searches. He was sharing how hard it is to see the silver lining sometimes – but how critical it was to find it!
Older workers need to pick out the strengths in them that set them apart. Many Boomers have incredible work ethics, incredible mentoring skills, and they love seeing and helping their teams succeed! This is a very valuable quality in today’s market where you hear of HR departments having to create entirely new programs in order to get the attention of their Gen Y employees. It is common to hear that these employees come with a much greater sense of entitlement and see loyalty to a company as something they have a hard time relating to. It is clear many of them have a different mindset than their Boomer counterparts.
Let me give you several more facts to embrace as you move forward into your job search:
- Companies are still growing and are still in need of good employees.
- Companies still have problems that YOU can solve.
- Millions of jobs are still being advertised every day… the Bureau of Labor Statistics says 85% of six-figure jobs filled in the U.S. each month are not advertised (hint: fish where the fish are!). That represents over 280,000 six-figure jobs in the “hidden job market.”
- Millions of 50+ people have landed wonderful job opportunities in all market climates.
- Learning the strategies to penetrate jobs that are not advertised leads to more interviews and bigger offers.
- A resume that sends the right marketing message will get you interviews, especially in times when companies really have urgent needs.
- History is heavily laden with scores of successful people rising out of adverse conditions and situations to achieve great things. Reading leadership biographies about successful business people will inspire you – truly.
- Some of the best opportunities are born out of the most difficult of situations.
Now not all of us are optimists, but these points are based on fact. And another fact is that keeping a focus on the positive is an invaluable effort that will carry you through any job search in any market.
But what if you consider yourself a “critical thinker” or maybe you have been fired or laid off and these points only serve to fuel your anger and frustration?
Then here are two more facts for you:
- Looking through the lens of critical analysis is dangerously limiting to your job search success.
- Anger and frustration over a layoff or letting go is normal in ANY job market and needs to be overcome.
No matter what your personality, position or current situation, we all must take responsibility for how we process it and what we do with the information we allow into our hearts and minds.
So, why not look for your next best position right now? Why not decide today that the media is not going to control the way you think and feel? Why not turn off the TV and simply stay focused on the markets that are growing and the plan and strategy that is going to work best for you right now?
There really isn’t ever a perfectly “right time” to do anything. For example, I picked the worst time to start up my business – financially, family-wise, etc. – but my window of opportunity was there and I embraced it, risk and all, and I never looked back.
A friend of mine who coaches C-Level executives through career transitions recently shared with me that most of his clients were holding off until the New Year to take action. That is, except for one. And that one client, he said, was experiencing amazing results and landing multiple interviews.
The choice is yours and the opportunities ARE there!
Dave was an attorney with a big law firm. His dream was to move into a corporate counsel role with a big corporation. When he first hired me to write his resume he spent a lot of time telling me about how underappreciated he was at his current firm.
When we would brainstorm ideas on how he could transition into his chosen industry he constantly repeated that he “already tried that.” In fact, Dave spent a lot of time shooting down most ideas I knew would help him tremendously.
When we talked about job search strategies he shared with me he didn’t have any time. “Surely you understand,” he would say.” I am an attorney and I work incredibly long hours. Plus I have a family.”
When we discussed his salary goals he said he had to make at least 30% more than what he currently made to “justify the move.”
When I asked him why he had been fired from his last position he said that he and one of the partners could not get along. He refused to elaborate.
Despite the building complexities Dave was creating for himself, he maintained he wanted to be in a new position in less that 60 days. When I attempted share with Dave that it appeared that he was neither ready nor willing to do what it would take to move forward – he simply ignored my comments.
Dave never did make his corporate counsel move. He took a job with another firm…. A job that a recruiter had called to pitch him over the phone. It was the first and only opportunity Dave ever explored.
The story above illustrates how brilliant professionals can undermine their own career progress through not taking responsibility for their job search goals.
And then there was Brian.
Brian hired me as a career coach during a major transition in his life. He drove all the way from Houston to San Antonio to meet with me in person and discuss his situation.
He was a SVP for a mid size company in Houston and he was really ready for a CMO position with a large firm. He had done his research and picked two industries he was interested in exploring further.
He knew he had one chance to make a great first impression and he wanted to do it right. He wanted help researching particular companies, identifying what job search strategies would give him the most leverage and he wanted to make sure his resume was written to best position him for a CMO title.
I will always remember how positive Brian was. He always seemed to see the glass as half full. He took responsibility for his ultimate success and he stayed focused on the strategies I showed him to get quality interviews. He knew the power of a team approach.
Brian was busy and had a family too, but he made his career transition a priority during that window of time.
He landed several high quality interviews and accepted an offer from a company he was truly excited about – at the compensation level that met his goals. It didn’t happen overnight but it did happen within four months of our working together.
One of his goals was to work out of his home one day per week. With the coaching I gave him he successfully negotiated this into his compensation package.
Brian invested in himself and in his career move because as he put it, he knew that “for every $100 he put in he would get $1000 back.”
Brian was willing to listen. That was not true for Dave.
Being “successful” has so much to do with one’s mindset. And coupled with an industry expert’s guidance, moving forward happens much more quickly and easily.
So if you want to get yourself and your job search “unstuck” it’s a wise move to first make sure you are committed to doing what it takes to reach your goals before you hire a career coach or resume writer. However once you are certain about your commitment to your own success, these partnerships can make getting there faster and easier, and your confidence, clarity and motivation will soar.