Mapping the marketplace
Job markets are constantly changing. What were accepted norms a few years ago are no more the standard today. As things progress, the job markets will change and so will the gatekeepers to different organisations.
Our job as job seekers is to find ways to get through these gates and grab the job of our dreams. However, due to these new changes, things have become more complicated and troublesome, leaving us with more to get done to score the job of our dreams.
Previously we just dropped off or sent a resume in. This may still work in some cases but may not be the scenario in all situations. Now it’s a dilemma of having to literally chase down positions, line managers and other contacts within an organisation to get past these gatekeepers.
What does this mean for you?
It means that you need to get more organised, more involved in the recruitment process to stand out of the crowd. But due to the complications there is a tendency to put off the application process. This Module will help you overcome these hurdles.
Why do I keep putting off my Application Process?
Well if you are like most people you are doing this one way or another. The irony of it all is that most people don't realize this until it’s too late. Realization doesn’t hit until they start to feel the pinch; money is running out fast, bills piling up and desperation kicking in.
The biggest problem then becomes managing that desperation. Desperate people tend to do things that they eventually regret. This may be due to the fact that they are not thinking properly when their back is against the wall.
Our advice – don’t get to this point and if you do you need to take a step back and analyse your decisions, especially when accepting job offers. Some employers may take advantage of the fact that you may be desperate.
If you are a professional who is out of a job or who has just lost their job, you should be applying within the first few days from which you give your resignation or have been made redundant.
This usually is not the case though. We had a client who had been let go from his previous employer 6 months previously. He only started applying three and a half months into being unemployed. After not hearing from prospective employers he contacted us five months in. That is a very long time to wait until applying for positions. It also took him time to contact a professional even after he did not hear back from employers. He needed to realize that there was something wrong, maybe it was his resume, or maybe it was his job hunting strategy. Maybe he just wasn’t spending enough time in the job hunting process.
When we told him that he needed to spend a minimum of 4 hours a day in the job hunting and application process he was shocked. He usually just spent an hour or two every second day.
So always look out for jobs and apply with an open mind. In fact, with every application you send out keep the belief that the job is yours. Believe that you will get a call back for an interview in the weeks to come and just don’t lose faith. This will help keep morale high and your focus intact.
Our point - don't wait that long. It’s a sure shot recipe for disaster. So you may be asking yourself “Why someone would do this to themselves. Why would they wait so long to put in those job applications? Is it being done on purpose or is their subconscious deceiving them? If this is the case is there a way out?”
In this module we will answer all these questions and more. Not only will we answer them but we will give you solutions to break these habits even if you are already facing them.
The above question will be broken down so we can tackle it in a comprehensive manner.
“Why would someone delay the process? And why would they wait so long to put in those job applications? Is it being done on purpose or is their subconscious deceiving them?”
In most cases it’s a psychological thing. We fear or resist pain! Pain!!! You might be asking what does pain have to do with delaying the job application process? We know many of you will be like that's total rubbish. What do we have to fear? What is there to fear? But the ground reality is that taking action will cause us a certain amount of fear and pain.
Let us explain through an example: Think of an action you've been avoiding. It can be anything. Imagine yourself starting to take that action. You're going to feel something unpleasant. Concentrate on what you feel. No matter what you call it, that unpleasant feeling is a type of pain. You can also classify it under other definitions like fear, confidence and so on. These are all forms of pain.
So what do we do when we feel this pain? We run for our comfort zone. Thus avoiding taking action when action is required, this eventually becomes a norm and you start procrastinating. This has a domino effect in other areas of our lives. Everything becomes – I can do it later. Worst of all, procrastinators squander the most precious asset a human can have - time.
You might ask what procrastination has to do with finding a job.
The answer is everything.
Until you focus, make a plan and start the whole application process including networking, you’re not going to get anywhere. Once we are in our comfort zones
we put off applying for certain positions (if not all) and don't network either which are key essentials to getting hired in this day and age.
In order to break through this dilemma, we will give you workarounds and solutions.
Planning is Key
Let’s start with the remainder of the Question from above. i.e. “Is there a way out of delaying in the application process?” The answer is an emphatic “Yes” there is a way out, a solution, but you will need to work very hard using the processes given below.
This modules core attributes will help you fight through the delay tactics and get you to the habit of taking action. The beauty of this module is that the strategies being used can also be used in other areas of your life- not just for your job applications only.
Here are the main strategies you can use in helping stop your delay tactics and procrastination:
1. Planning & Preparation is your lifeline.
- Planning simplifies things without the tension
- How to Plan
2. What Job should I select?
- Type of job / designation
- Salary and perquisites
3. Be in the know
- Company values
- Career progression
- Work from home option
Planning & Preparation is your Lifeline.
Plan everything but also take action. We have come across so many people who just don't plan. They consider it to be a waste of time. Why plan when you can just get to it, right? To be honest it becomes very hard to cope with things if you don’t plan. There are more problems and more worry involved. Our question to you is “Do you really need things to get more complicated or would you rather prefer simplicity?”
Planning simplifies things without the tension planning may sound like more work but in the long run it pays off and planning gives you a front seat to what could happen in the future. Preparing you for any problems you might face, giving you plenty of time to be proactive and take action before it occurs. With a mentality of working blindly you will miss opportunity after opportunity. You're just wasting time and effort and you won't realise it until it’s too late. We have actually come across many people who plan their vacations out more than they plan out their lives and careers. Don’t be one of them!
How to Plan: First things first, you need to know what you want to do. You need to ask yourself the question, “What do I want to do?” It’s not going to be easy. You would need to literally follow your heart. Remember, do not chase money. You seriously need to take out time and do a little soul searching. This will be the key to your success and happiness in a job.
Another very powerful tool is to leverage your skills. Try and focus on careers where you have very strong skill sets. Focus on your core strength areas. For example, you may be great at speaking. Look for a Career that harnesses that. It could be teaching, reporting, becoming a lawyer etc. Don't just throw your resume at everything you see. Focus.
should I select?
At times you will be confused as to which jobs to apply for. There are going to be plenty and you may not fit exactly in some, but that’s okay. Recruiters just want to know that you have some attributes to fit into the position. Yes, they would prefer the best candidate, someone who will be able to fit their job criteria to the tee. But being HR professionals and having hired hundreds of people this is just wishful thinking. There is no such thing as a perfect candidate and there never will be one. You see, even if a person fits perfectly from a competence point of view, they may not fit culturally. They may be great at their work but might not a strong leader and the list goes on.
Experienced hiring managers know this. So, if they like you they will select you and worry about your liabilities (provided that these aren’t major that they will hinder your work) once you are on-board. They know that they can train you on the job. Here are a few things that will help you decide which jobs to pick:
a. Industry: Some people have certain choices and don’t like working for the Banking sector or the Oil sector for personal reasons. Maybe you too have certain reservations on the type of industry you would like to work for. So ensure you pick jobs specific to the industries you are interested in.
b. Type of job / designation: Some people are picky about designations. For example, some organisations call its heads of departments – Coordinators. Now usually if you look in the job market, Coordinators are considered to be mid-tier positions. Many senior people would refuse to take or look at the position because it had the title “Coordinator”.
c. Location: Location is also important to consider. Some candidates will be flexible while others will have family / personal reasons for needing to be in a specific area or location. So check with your loved ones and reassess everything before starting your job search. It will look unfavourable if you have been selected for a position and you decline the offer just because the location is not suitable.
d. Salary and Perquisites: Try and focus on jobs that you feel will pay what you are requiring. Unfortunately, not all advertised posts will have the salary mentioned in them. Thus you would either need to use some of your contacts in the Company / Industry itself or raise the query with the advertiser.
Be in the know - know things like
a. Company Values: Some candidates like working for Organisations where both Employee and Employer values are synced. This way they know that the chances for them growing in an Organisation increase substantially. If you are one of those type of people, do your homework, visit the company’s website and speak to some of their employees. LinkedIn has made that
so much easier for us.
b. Career Progression: Some candidates are usually concerned about Career Progression. They want to see how quickly they can climb the corporate ladder. If you are one of them try finding out more about the Organisation. Is it a flat Organisation (not many Tiers) or is it hierarchical (many tiers)? Just remember the flatter the Organisation and there will be less vertical climbing within the Organisation. If you are the type of person not willing to join a company like this, don’t waste your time and the interviewer’s time. Do your homework!
c. Work from home option: This is usually called Telecommuting. It means the option of working from home for a certain number of days or even a permanent work from home option. Some Companies will give you this option. Maybe you need to look after kids and work too. A job like this would really help. So once again do your homework, many companies nowadays are flexible. If this is something which will be a requirement for you, during your initial phone interview do ask if this is an option. By planning you would realise what is important to you and what isn't and then it would be easier for you to pursue the positions you are interested in.
This is probably the most important question to ask yourself. We are talking about your future career. At times we tend to make decisions based on external assumptions. For example, you might pick a Career just because it pays well. That is not a recommended decider. There will come a point in time when you would
start hating your job and have to drag yourself out of bed every morning to go to work. So pick wisely!
Your overall plan
So now you have an idea of what you want and what needs to be done. Now starts the real work - Your Overall Plan and Action Steps.
This may be split into two.
a. Companies: You may have always had a lifelong dream of working for a certain Organisation. For example, you may have thought that Bill and Melinda Gates are doing exceptional work on trying to eradicate Aids in Africa at the Gates Foundation and you have always wanted to work for this cause. Go ahead, drive yourself crazy, apply at that Organisation, there is no harm in targeting jobs there but target the ones that you know you can fit into and also have a good chance at getting.
Don't try for a manager’s position when you know you don't have the competencies to fit that position. If you don't ever hear back from them, it’s fine. Maybe you're not ready yet. You need to just keep going. Focus on other companies, don't stop just because you get a few "No's".
You have heard of Colonel Sanders, the man who started KFC. He was subjected to 1009 "No's” travelling throughout the country, sleeping in his car, and eventually after hearing those 1009 No’s, he got one “Yes” from a Restaurateur who agreed to sell his chicken. Do you have it in you to accept 1009 "No's" without giving up?
b. Jobs: These are positions you either see on Job Boards, Online Job portals, Company Websites, LinkedIn, other social media platforms or Job Forums. In some instances, they will advertise in newspapers, though this medium is dwindling.
Making a project plan
You need to focus on setting up a proper Project Plan. That will be a plan for the whole month. Use the career management portal to manage this process and workout how many jobs you need to apply to in this coming month.
If it’s 100 Jobs, break it down into a daily figure. ie. 100 jobs /30 days on average per month = 3 jobs a day. So if you plan on applying every day you need to apply for 3 jobs.
This is just an example as this number will vary depending on your skill levels, industry sector etc
Your daily plan
You will need to set daily task for yourself. You will need to take into account your whole day. Assign time accordingly ensuring that you give at least 4 - 5 dedicated hours to job hunting and networking. It doesn't have to be 4 - 5 hours in one go but it’s advised that you assign it according to these criterion.
First thing in the morning
As a rule, and you should even adapt this as a habit in your daily life, always do your toughest chore first thing in the morning. All top performers complete the toughest and most important task first thing in the morning.
There is a reason behind this. As human beings we tend to have the most energy and of course less resistance (less self-talk) first thing in the morning. You will also have better focus and drive to do your best work first thing in the morning. But just remember the route to success is taking action and maintaining consistency.
One more pointer that we can give you is to select the most difficult applications and apply for those first. Keep on it. You will eventually hear back from a recruiter / company.
Always remember target jobs that you think you can fit into and don't procrastinate on any position. If you think it’s worth applying for go ahead. Always set priorities. Target the jobs you want first.
Set monthly and daily goals for yourself and ensure that you set “SMART” goals.
You may have noted that you tend to have certain hours in the day when you work with enthusiasm and drive. You just start working and time flies. You’ll notice that you get the most done during this time. These are your power hours. The hours you work at your optimum. It could be at 10 in the morning or even 2am at night but these are your power hours, use them to your advantage. We tend to think out of the box and are willing to take drastic action during these hours. We have come across so many people who say they do their best work during the night. So leverage this time to your advantage. If you feel you need to work at night so be it.
The SMART acronym stands for
Specific: Whatever goals you set for yourself you need to make sure that they are specific and to the point. Having vague goals gets you vague results and ultimately does nothing for you. Make sure when planning out the job application process, that you make it specific.
Measurable: Your goal needs to be measurable. Like for example, this week you will apply for 15 jobs.
Achievable: As Jim Collins coined the term Big Hairy Audacious Goals or BHAG in his book “Built to Last”. It is good to have crazy goals provided that you can achieve them. Make sure that when setting your goals, they are a bit crazy but also achievable.
Realistic: This is linked to the achievable side of things. Your goals need to be realistic not bordering on the Psychotic.
Time Based: This is the most important part of setting goals. They need to be time based / barred. You need to set yourself timelines otherwise work will always be postponed and we will always find an excuse to procrastinate.
Always focus on the final outcome
In every case that we apply we need to focus on the final outcome. Not all 2 job applications will ever be the same. In one case it so may happen, that you will not only need to send a resume but you may already know someone within the Organisation that can help your case move forward. You will need to handle this job application differently as compared to any other one.
For this you will need to make a project plan outlining all the activities needed to apply. I know many of you will say this is overkill but to be honest this method gives you perspective as well as a more organised process when applying.
We have come across people who we have contacted for an interview and as an interviewer we hate it when they turn around and say, I don't remember applying for that role.
You know what that shows the hiring manager? It shows them that you are not interested, don’t care or just plain disorganised. So make sure you use your career management portal to manage every aspect of your job search.
Even though you may make your action plans and apply for a few jobs but there will come a point when you will face resistance, this is mainly you wanting to take it easy, take breaks, put it off till tomorrow and so on.
We are born Procrastinators and will always find an excuse not to start. However, there are a number of workarounds that we will be sharing with you. Please give each of these a try. They really work and will play a huge part in getting those applications out the door.
See it in your mind’s eye
This is a trick applied by all professional athletes. Before every major event they stand and focus. Playing in their mind's eye each and every move they will make, each and every turn they will take or jump they will make. They vision everything, sense everything, every sound, every noise just about everything.
You need to do the same. If your body is resisting doing a task, stop for a while. Close your eyes and start envisioning the work in your head. This applies to everything not only your job application. If you are working on a report, picture yourself working on it. Picture yourself opening up Excel, plugging in the data and working out each and every step you need to do to complete the report. Make sure you picture yourself doing this and much more, picture it as if it is happening in present and don’t stop there.
Now take it one step further and see what happens after you finish the task and hand it in. See how well it is received. How happy your boss is and the positive comments that he/she is giving you. Once you do this you will find that you will have no resistance in completing the task in real life.
You can apply the same to your job hunt. Let us suppose you are interested in applying for a job at Microsoft. Picture the whole application process. See how you are tweaking that great resume. Picture how you apply for the position. Picture how you will find a contact that will help your application reach the right people. Picture them getting impressed with your resume and cover letter and then picture how you are being called for that interview. Take this all the way till when you receive your job offer. This is an amazing tool it really works so don't discard it.
In fact, if you have a dream organisation you have applied at, I would suggest that you play this movie in your head daily (once in the morning and once at night before going to bed).
Create Timelines and Deadlines
Again, we cannot emphasise how important this is. For every task you set; ensure that you establish timelines and deadlines (remember SMART). Without them we will always have excuses to move the delivery to the next day or the next week or the next month. Your procrastination will have no limits then.
Break your work into little steps
Even though we may have touched on this above, but we want to mention this again as it is really important. It is advisable to break down task into smaller more manageable task; this reduces the feeling of burden, lessens resistance and makes you feel more inclined to get work done. The Psychology behind this is that with each task completed we feel that we have achieved something; it gets you pumped up, full of energy and one step closer to finishing off the bigger goal.
Promise yourself it will only take 5 minutes
This really works. If you are having a tough time starting a task tell yourself that you will try it for only 5 minutes. Go ahead set that timer. And trust us once you start you will continue with the task at hand. It’s a great way of tricking your brain to allow you to start working.
Get rid of interruptions
Emails, social media, the latest episode of Game of Thrones - These are all interruptions. Once you set yourself to work try to remove all disruptions. If that means turning off your mobile. Go ahead do it. The world won't come to an end if you do. Close off all email alerts / pop-ups, ask your family and friends not to disturb you during this allotted time. Any and every distraction needs to be shut off so you can focus on the task at hand.
Talking about Game of Thrones, did you know that George RR Martin (the writer of Game Thrones) writes his books on an old system that is not attached to the internet. He writes his novels with a program that most people have never even heard of: WordStar 4.0.
To give you an idea of just how ancient this program is, here’s a picture of the typical WordStar screen. So there you have it. The man who is selling the most books and the brainchild to a favourite TV series can't even send emails from his computer. Learn from him, remove all disruptions.
Tell others of your goals
Most people have that one really annoying friend or relative who is always in peoples face with his or her, “I told you so”. Do you have one too? Great, go ahead and tell that person your goal. Tell them that you are getting a job at Apple or Google. I'm sure they will keep haunting you with, "I thought you were getting a job at Google what happened? I knew you couldn't ...” If you want to escape the embarrassment, you will push yourself in every possible way to get that job.
When we face resistance (don’t want to do the task), means we are closer to achieving success. Face that fear!
It’s a known fact that people who are about to give in are the closest to achieving success. You look at any success story. Anyone who has achieved success will tell you they were so close to giving up before they made it happen. Keep that in mind every time you hear the voice in your head say, “oh forget it”, or “you can do it tomorrow” or “what’s the use”. Just push yourself and don't give up.
Stop thinking and adopt Nike’s slogan
“Just do it” is the official Nike slogan as you may well know. So whenever you think of procrastinating just push yourself and do the task. Don't listen to that voice in your head. Just push on.
Create a reward system
It’s always good to create a reward system. It gets you focused and more inclined to complete your task. It doesn’t have to be big. It can be something like “I will apply for 3 jobs and then have a cup of coffee. I will not get up from my seat for that cuppa until I complete these 3 job applications.” And keep to it. You can even set bigger rewards for bigger task. Surprisingly, this really works.
Refuse to rationalise
Refuse to make excuses. Keep telling yourself “Excuses are lies and I will stop listening to them”. I love Brian Tracy’s work and he has a saying “If it is to be it is up to me”. So keep at it and stop making excuses. Tell yourself “Excuses Be Gone”
(Great book by Dr. Wayne Dyer).
Accept 100% responsibility
This is probably the most important thing. Remind yourself every day that you are 100% responsible, no one else, just you. Except no excuses, no blaming, just commit and get it done. You will thank yourself in the end!
The biggest setback
No amount of strategy building or planning will get you anywhere unless you take action. Unless you take action the job of your dreams will be taken by someone else.
If you follow the advice in this module you could get application after application out the door. However too much of planning and strategy sometimes has a negative side effect.
It’s called “Analysis Paralysis”
Having systems in place is good but over thinking it is bad for you. The problem of setting up all of the above may also become a crutch for you to start procrastinating.
This is done through Analysis Paralysis. What this means is that we start analysing everything, planning everything and never taking action. For some reason the plans are never right.
We have come across people who plan and plan for hours and never take action. For them there is always something they have not planned for that is preventing them from taking action. Don't let that become you.
Once you have the bare plans in place start taking action. You can always improve your planning going forward. So just keep applying on a daily basis and you will get something in no time.