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Mid-Year Career Checkup: Are You "On Your Game?"
by Dan Puleio
When the year reaches its midpoint, it can seem like only yesterday that you made your New Year's resolutions. Now find yourself repeating the same old habit patterns you promised yourself would not happen again.
Regarding your job-search activities of past months, you reflect back at how exhausting it was to spend all day (at least that's what you told people), day after day, and actually accomplish the equivalent of about an hour's true productivity when you were last employed on the job and "on your game." You asked yourself at each day's end, "What did I actually accomplish today, and why am I both mentally and physically exhausted?" I suggest the answer is that you were chasing activities and not focusing on results.
A job-search campaign that consists of activities instead of results reminds me of a sailing analogy, such as skippering a boat with a luffing sail (Webster's definition: to cause a sail to shake by turning too close to the wind). It's slow, inefficient, a lot of painful work, and there's nothing to show for the effort expended. The solution is to recognize the condition, make corrections, and you're then cutting through the water, back "on your game" and actually having fun!
Note that the corrections were activities that produced results... tangible measurable results. Whether it took a single action or a half dozen, only the results counted -- which is how you approach your profession and how I suggest you approach your job search.
Okay, so let's get down to bottom-line solutions... the game plan. Think of the solution as a two-sided coin. "Heads" defines and measures results (not simply activities) that will move you incrementally (yard by yard if you will) toward your goal of rewarding employment. The following suggests a scorecard that defines, measures and tracks results:
Informational meeting with friends and associates
Referrals provided to business persons by name and phone number (award yourself 5 points for each referral)
Informational or business meeting with a previous stranger (points awarded only after follow-up communication suggesting next action)
Job interview with a company decision-maker (award yourself 15 additional points for each callback)
Have fun building your own weekly scorecard, but be tough on yourself. For example, a recruiter callback to ask for your middle initial does not award points in this game!
The flip side of the coin is your approach to the game plan -- a mental attitude that is totally focused on the goal. It requires a rekindling of the approach you used to achieve every significant achievement in the past.
Think about the job search in terms of a business project that totally immersed you. One in which you had a personal "ownership" in the results. Despite the headaches, you were excited... you were "on your game."
Heck, sometimes you even forgot to eat! It was on your mind when you were exercising, sleeping or even (you fill in the blanks)! You started each day focused and enthusiastic over the battles that would be fought and won. That's what it takes to win any difficult endeavor.
Stay with me for one final point that addresses a common job-seeker lament, "But Dan, a renewed positive attitude, action plan, and improving economy aside, how do I overcome the huge number of competitors dumped on the market in recent years?"
The truth of the matter is that most of your competition has, for all practical purposes, given up the job search. Since I have been using sports analogies, allow me to continue on this tack and close with a bit of humor.
All clients I agree to work with have the credentials, knowledge, and attitude to be the "athletes" on the job search playing field. I'll wager that you also have what it takes. Those busloads of burley guys you saw in the stadium parking lot are not your competition. Come game time, they'll be sitting in the stands eating hot dogs, drinking beer and watching you play the game.
The success stories of the coming months belong to those who execute an ambitious, pro-active calendar. They left the "Pity Party," are back in the locker room, and are on their game.
Play well for the rest of the year.
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker's Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Dan Puleio is president of Your Life-Your Career, a comprehensive Web-based job search assistance and career-management company that gets job seekers into the game quickly and cost effectively.
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