So we continue to have over 14 million ready-to-work Americans walking the streets, a number equal to the entire populations of Guatemala or Mali. With the prospect of economic doldrums continuing until further notice, maybe they should just get together and start their own country. Actually, it’s starting to look like they are moving in that direction, and who can blame them?
In the meantime, the lives of Quiet Desperation are clocking away the hours in the HR departments across the country, as the Winged Monkeys in the back room electronically file resumes of unqualified applicants all day long while they are unable to fill millions of open positions.
What are today’s hiring managers looking for at the executive level? Is there a secret formula to follow that results in one highly qualified executive getting hired today, while someone with a greater pedigree and a more impressive history of accomplishments languishes for another year before finding a new job?
It’s become a well-worn cliché that people hire those they know, like and trust, but we at The Barrett Group www.careerchange.com regularly see another trend that bucks the conventional wisdom, and Dorothy bore witness to the list of most desired attributes requirement during her famous journey).
When looking outside their network, savvy hiring managers still look for the same basic skills held in value so many years ago: a heart, a brain and courage.
Admittedly, they rarely use those words in job descriptions, but, when you think about it (you’ll need, of course, that brain thing), if you needed to hire someone to be at the epicenter of corporate activity after you’ve left the room (or country, nowadays), you would need to be confident that they will do when push comes to shove, as it regularly does. Will they:
make a smart decision;
consider all the ramifications (financial, legal, internal/external reputation, reflecting the company’s mission);
be honest and transparent while balancing discretion and politics;
have what it takes to go ahead and make it happen should you not be available for hand holding and devil’s advocate role playing?
If you’re looking for a new or better job, you might consider whether you are fully transmitting your ability to be that perfect person to those agonizing over finding that Wizard who can solve all those problems on that laptop over there.
C-level executives in the New World Order of Business are really long range temps. When Return on Investment trumps company loyalty every time, when large corporations can be evaporated, absorbed or taken over on any given day, you need to travel light and hedge your bets along with your funds.
Even when all goes as planned, if you don’t deliver miracles, you can find yourself seen as yesterday’s news. If you do deliver miracles, you have made the company an excellent target for merger, takeover or purchase. Either way, you could find yourself reading the fine print on that Separation Agreement.
Okay, so you’re in transition, possibly again. Having lifted some heavy weight in several different and challenging corporate scenarios over the past few years, you’ve learned quite a lot and enjoy sharing your knowledge and methods with those who have found themselves in the deep end of the pool. So you market yourself as a Turnaround Consultant, a hired gun who can save the company from ruin, or a rainmaker who can bring in needed revenue.
There are two pitfalls we have seen in trying to do this in the middle of the current economic extended hiccup:
(1) The management team believes you are really just looking for another job and either won’t take a consulting engagement seriously or will drop them mid-stream when you get an offer, or (2) they see you as an inside guy, because of your stellar corporate background, when they were really looking for a professional consultant. Because you, technically, have no record of achievement as a consultant, you’re an unknown quantity.
Then the other shoe drops (actually, both shoes): (1) companies in deep trouble know they need help, and quickly, but cash flow becomes a serious problem, so they want you to work “on spec”, and/or (2) they can’t afford not to hire you and yet they can’t afford to pay you, so they don’t do either and you both lose out (probably typifying the business logic that got them in trouble in the first place).
So, what to do?? Here’s the latest thinking from Barrett Central:
Never fight a losing battle, and always stack the deck in your favor: Lay out the (extremely) negative consequences of not hiring you, in which the company continues to lose money, never breaks into the new market, and/or ultimately fails. Out of pity and good sportsmanship, restructure your consulting proposal to pay you only what you need now (you get paid), a big balloon based entirely on success events (you get paid well), then put a large contingency amount at the back end, payable entirely in equity (you get a piece of the action). Low risk on all sides, big payout on all sides.
People only get hired (or engaged) under very specific circumstances: a. If they know you, like you and can trust you. If you’re reading this, you probably don’t know enough people. Social networking (no secret here) is today’s key, and offering to help (and meaning it) is the way in. If you need help with this, call me. b. If they need you. They only need to know of you if you have a reputation for consistently doing the impossible and delivering the goods. c. If they need anybody. When the FDIC had to close down more banks in the past two years than they did in the past twenty, they needed Any Warm Body, an army. Quite a few people with little or no experience or qualifications were hired, trained and paid, while adding to the pedigree on the resume and meeting influential folks across the company.
The Hostile Takeover Gambit: Hopefully you set aside some loose change from your severance. If they won’t hire you, buy the company out from under them. As you first official act after installing yourself as CEO, fire them.
The Devil You Know or the Devil You Just Speed Dated: If they think they might do better with somebody else, remind them that they already concede you can do the job and they already have a working relationship with you. Because you’ve already done your analysis, the job is half done, all you have to do is execute. Why would they want to go through the whole painful process all over again when all they have to do is negotiate in good faith? (This one may also be the quickest highway to World Peace, but let’s take one challenge at a time).
So by all means take this opportunity to explore the glamorous and rewarding world of consulting. Just make sure you bring your boots, and don’t ever forget your parachute!
Does your job search seem to be a series of complex activities and programs? A list of ever-changing To-do’s and To-don’ts? Can it appear to have a life of its own? Does it feel like it is out of your sphere of influence? You might perceive that you live in a world of reaction, where each day blindsides you with a new and unexpected frustration. Or you may feel that your job search is more like living in a “Murphy’s Law” situation where anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
But, there is a cure.
In Eastern philosophies such as Buddhism and Taoism, we are told that the seen and unseen world can be divided into two groups: those things we can influence and those that we cannot.
Even if you do not follow the philosophy of mystical enlightenment, let’s see how we can use the reasoning behind it and apply it to your job search.
Take a moment and think about your day, breathing in and out.
As you see yourself getting organized for your day, take a few minutes to visualize the events and people that may impact you, through planned meetings, emails, televisions broadcasts, alert notifications or serendipity/the pipeline/LinkedIn connections, etc… and breathe.
Now deliberately plan the positive… and breathe. Plan the active steps you are going to take to improve your positioning through each of your interactions.
If you feel your human nature beginning to erode your newfound purposefulness and you allow fear of rejection and faith in all things Murphy to bring in the clouds…. stop a minute. Take a deep, cleansing breath and…
Let it wash over you like the cleansing waters of the…okay, right, so just let it wash over you, we’ll hope for the best on that one…. and breathe.
Let go of all the things you cannot control. Let go of any fear and frustration that appeared… and breathe. Let go of other’s reactions. Let go of outside influences that cause chaos in your day. Let it go, all of it.
Let it go… And breathe.
Do you feel better after that exercise? Did you find a better realization of your influences and the things you are able to control? Maybe. Maybe not.
But whether or not that exercise helped center you, we hope that you realize that there are things in life (and the job search) that you cannot possibly predict, control or directly influence. The Barrett Group’s recommendation is to observe, witness, and watch it go by (really, all of it).
Then after it goes by, take a sober, critical look at what is left. Realistically decide what you can do now or in the future. Come to a practical resolution of actionable tasks that will make a difference for you, the ones you love, and the world.
Then do it!
We would be interested in hearing from you if you are having problems with your job search technique, or if you believe it will never work, or if you could use guidance.
The Barrett Group can refine your job search, allowing you to take control of what matters most to you while releasing those circumstances that are beyond your control. Contact us today to get started.
Patience – although it’s generally accepted that one should be patient when pursuing a long-term goal, patience is a passive trait, it involves doing nothing while waiting for the actions of others. I’ve been accused of being patient (occasionally), but I think people are confusing this trait with tolerance, or misinterpreting my clumsy use of wei wu wei In any case, patience gets you nowhere slowly, so if that’s your goal, you’re reading the wrong blog.
Diligence – slightly different, although both strong leaders, workaholics and ants share the trait. I do recommend diligence in all exercises (including exercise) that are designed to culminate in a clearly defined result. Executives who equate business goals with sports do real well with those types of tasks, but all things in business and life do not sit comfortably in that bundle, and some really, well, diligent folks sometimes crumble when they can’t clearly define the goal. Ants don’t have this problem, or they don’t know it. I would resist the temptation to suggest these crumbled folks seek out a professional career management team to get them back on the ill-defined track, but it appears to already be too late.
Ambitious – considered a rebuke or insult in some cultures, this trait is often reduced in pop mythology to being conniving, ruthless or aggressive, but this is a bum rap, as you can be highly ambitious without being any of the above. Admittedly, to scramble to the top of the heap and reap the rewards, you will need to focus on your climb up the ladder or leap into the unknown (the two most common methods of advancement). But in addition to deciding what you really want (and knowing why you want it) and putting your plan into action, conventional wisdom suggests you will also need one more arrow in your corporate quiver:
Luck – I’ve never been able to find a logical, empirical method to arrive at committed superstition, quite possibly because superstition, by definition, denies the logical and empirical. This non-belief system extends to luck as well: I have yet to hear about a senior executive, or rock star for that matter, who’s road to success was paved with luck or serendipity. Sure, there are serendipitous events that occur in all our lives, but the people who recognize unplanned opportunity, plan for the possibility they might occur, then boldly, decisively hop on the bull when they see it from across the room and ride it for all it’s worth are the ones who people see as lucky. The cliché is that they make their own luck, but that’s not really giving them credit for their accomplishment.
In order to make your own happy ending, whether it be in business, art, love or life, you need to actively envision it, passionately embrace the image, then lay out the plan, with all contingencies, by which you’re going to make it a literal dream come true. I’ve seen this happen in my own life, and have carefully studied successful people and their stories for the past fifteen years, and this has been the case every time to date. How about you?
Professional resume writers will all tell you that perfecting your resume presentation is absolutely crucial to your success.
Dedicated interview coaches will make sure that you are aware that every little thing you say can be the one statement that secures or denies your future.
Your executive tonsorial consultant will patiently explain that today’s executive is expected to have their hair communicate their management style in no uncertain terms.
Who’s in charge here?
Let’s take a step back and impress a business perspective on your search. You are in a job search, embarking on a career change, or launching your new venture with purpose and vigor, armed with a deliberate and well considered action plan, right?
If not, take a minute, or ten years (whichever comes first) and get there, so you can receive the intended value from today’s blog. If you find you need help getting to Step One, feel free to, of course, contact The Barrett Group (end of shameless plug).
You are on a mission, and it is a business mission, even if the intent isn’t to necessarily earn money (although it is likely that this is a big part of it). Here’s what you need to do to clear your mind, and the air, so as to remove the obstacles that will invariably be placed in your way:
Always keep in mind what you are trying to accomplish, both short term and long term. If you are on the path to engender quality job offers, do everything that will result in offers building in a pile on your desk, and do nothing that isn’t related directly to that purpose. Be merciless, be honest and be real. Some people like lists: if making a list with two columns (result in job offers/not related to job offers) is helpful to you, do so and follow it as if your life depended on it. This may sound overly dramatic, but, in a very real sense, your future life as you envision it does rely on your efficiency and effectiveness in this process. A positive byproduct to adopting this attitude is that people will notice, and this will send reinforcing waves of good energy back into the process. Really, I see it all the time.
Do not be sidelined, side swiped or side barred (for you attorneys). Only you can prevent yourself from being distracted, dissuaded or distressed. Only you can allow yourself to do the same.
Remember why you embarked on this campaign and regularly envision your life after the successful completion of your quest. Don’t daydream, and don’t confuse the two.
Take the emotion out of it, for now: running your search like a business necessitates a level of emotional detachment, enabling you to make sober, logical and clear decisions as you move through the process, and erases the doubts, second guessing and fear. If you stay the course, remember the mission and work your plan, you will succeed. Then you can put the emotion back in and celebrate.
Are you in a midlife career change? Are you changing careers at 30, 40 or 50 years of age? Do you need a new career? If you are currently experiencing difficulty in your job search, we’re here to help. Please send a message with your information or call.