It’s a well researched fact that most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking strategically about their careers, particularly if they are in a job that is all consuming so that between home chores, spending time with their loved ones and squeezing in a bit of me time, there’s not much time left in the day. I know this to be true because most of the clients that come to us have spent little to no time thinking about their career journey or knowing how to go about making the next career move.
At this time in our collective history it may seem rather extravagant to be thinking about your career but even if you have just been thrust unexpectedly on to the job market and your prime concern is finding a job to put bread on the table, crafting your career and job search strategy is far from a luxury. Employers in South Africa were already used to having the pick of the litter in a stagnant economic climate, now that will be exacerbated so it needs to be met with well thought through plans to help you stand out. But the best planning in the world is just information and we are drowning in information and noise. The trick, once you have a plan, is execution and that’s where you need to be prepared because job hunting:
- Takes time
- Is tedious
- Takes persistence
- And it’s easy to distract yourself
It takes time
You will no doubt hear the anecdotal stories of Jane Doe being in exactly the right place at the right time and landing her dream job within days of leaving the previous one. I know that this can happen. One client left his marine engineering company and before the ink was dry on his resignation letter, he had offers from the competitors. And that’s great. Kudos to him. But it’s not a strategy to rely on. Generally job hunting at senior management level takes on average six to twelve months.
The activities you plot on your job search project plan may be interesting at first but you will likely spend more time “farming” than “hunting” and when you’re first planting the seeds, watering them and waiting for them to grow – that can be boring if not down right soul destroying. It’s very easy to become demotivated.
It takes persistence
When you are plugging away at networking, answering ads, keeping up with the recruitment consultants but it all seems to be going into a black hole, it’s easy then to give up or to become inconsistent in your efforts right when you need to push through.
It’s easy to distract yourself
I was talking to a client looking for an MD position in the finance world about sticking to his job search plan and not persuading himself that spending time on other noble pursuits to the exclusion of the plan was okay when I could see it struck a chord. We seldom distract ourselves with trivial things like Netflix re-runs. They are generally quite noble pursuits – picking up the kids from school, offering to drive to some far place to go to a particular store for your spouse, sorting out the IT in your home office and so on. All necessary and noble in themselves but unlikely to advance the job search effort.
But there is a shortcut, which given my leanings I would encourage you to take and that is:
Working with a coach
As I said earlier there’s no shortage of information out there about careers as about any topic but wading your way through the information and carving out a path that suits you and helps you get to your goals is much easier when you have an experienced person walking alongside you. For one thing, if you have been in a job for any length of time you are likely to be quite out of touch with one or both halves of the picture.
You may or may not know your strengths and talents and where you’d like to see yourself. I find that many clients are not clear on the direction they want to take nor do they see how their strengths, talents and experience distinguish them from other people. On the other side, they are often unfamiliar with where the opportunities lie, how to present in a way that appeals to recruiters, what the obstacles are and so on.
Working with a coach even for the initial plan is invaluable but the gold is in having the coach alongside you to overcome the obstacles we mentioned, especially if it turns out to be a long haul. One client made over 400 applications before he landed the ‘right’ job with a multinational FMCG company that had been on his radar. That takes real persistence, patience and the ability to keep the vision and goal in mind when you receive the 399threjection letter. It’s all so much easier with a cheerleader alongside you.
Contact Pam at: +27824440375 or firstname.lastname@example.org