Monday, October 26, 2009

Core Beliefs

Last week we explored our reactions to the challenges of a tough job search. This week we want to look at core beliefs – what’s inside us that affects our reaction to the tough challenges of the search. Like last week, I’m relying heavily on the expertise of my wife, Camille, who deals with many of these issues in her professional life.

The decisions we make in our daily life are a dance between our conscious and unconscious. For example, after struggling to button my trousers, I make the conscious decision that I will exercise every morning at 5:30 in an effort to lose weight. For a few days this works. I rise to the occasion, go to the gym and undertake a vigorous workout. After several days of working out, I notice that my trousers are not fitting any better. I hit the snooze on my alarm clock several days in a row – and miss the optimal workout time. Unconsciously I’ve made the decision to forego my exercising. Similarly, I can make a conscious decision to read a book a week to improve my mind. I visit the library and check out several promising books and begin my program of self improvement. However, I soon fall into old habits and patterns of nightly television viewing. Soon the books are returned unread. Again, upon being laid off from my current job, I consciously resolve to do anything it takes to get my career back on track. I network, I submit resumes, I follow up with phone calls. After not having my calls returned or not hearing from the companies to which I’ve submitted resumes, I find plenty of excuses to just surf the web, read interesting blogs and keep well informed about breaking news stories of boys adrift in balloons. When my efforts have not met with quick success, I find that I give up; I abandon my goals.

What happens? Why is it we can’t attain what we say we want? Why do we give up on ourselves?

It often comes down to our unconscious beliefs – sometimes referred to as core beliefs – that drive our decisions and behaviors and keep us from achieving our stated goals. This is when we give up. We make excuses that diminish who we are and our ability to be successful. Once we set into motion that core belief – the “I can’t do it; I’m not good or smart enough; I don’t deserve it,” – that becomes the driver that determines what we think, what we say, what we do and how we feel.

These core beliefs are determined by decisions we make at a very early age. Over time, they became a significant, unconscious part of who we are. How we respond to the world and how we “be” in the world (our intention) is determined, in large part, by these core beliefs, which become most apparent in times of great challenge and are often the grist for therapy.

Do you know what your core beliefs are? Do you realize how they affect your actions? Can you see how they keep you from achieving your goals?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Where Do You Go When the Going Gets Tough?

A colleague asked me to write about the emotional aspects of a job search – “how to be emotionally up when you’re down.” For help, I turned to my wife, Camille, a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and a Religious Science Practitioner (RScP). Camille has a much better feel for emotional issues than me. On a road trip last weekend, we took a crack at these issues. Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore them.

The saying goes that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. There is no doubt that keeping positive in one’s job search in the current economic environment is tougher than ever: on-going negative stories in the media about unemployment; rejection – or silence – from potential employers; and the strong competition among other candidates.

When everything in our world is going well, it is easy to be positive and upbeat. But what happens when it looks as if your world is falling apart? The loss of a job is often equated as emotionally traumatic as the death of a loved one or a divorce.

What internal resources do you tap into to sustain and motivate yourself to remain positive? Where do you go inside yourself when faced with such emotional trauma? How do you tap into these resources?

These key resources are your feelings, beliefs and behaviors.

Do you actually believe you’ll find the job you want? Based on that conviction, do you feel excited about the work you know you’ll find? Do you carry that positive behavior throughout the day? Is your behavior congruent with your thoughts and feelings?

When new clients start their job search process, their feelings, beliefs and behaviors are typically strong and reflect positive intentions: “It won’t take long for me to find new work.” “I’m confident that my search will be different than my friends and former colleagues who have been unemployed for months.” “My job is to look for a job, so I will have a business-like approach and dress the part.” They often wear business attire to our meetings. As their search continues, and they are confronted with the negative aspects of the search, especially rejection and silence, they become less focused on their initial intentions. Their feelings and beliefs begin to suffer; their behaviors reflect diminishing intention. They begin to act like victims; they often get more casual, sometimes downright sloppy in the way they present for our meetings. Their behaviors reflect their attitudes.

And then there are those who continue to act and feel and think congruent with their initial intention of finding the work they desire. They remain positive and confident in their search and build momentum in their progress. They know that the right opportunity will come along. They continue a structured, focused effort in their search. They keep their appointments, they have progress to report, and they don’t show up in T-shirts and flip flops.

It requires conviction and commitment to get up every morning and send out more resumes, make more phone calls, knock on more doors; knowing all the while that it’s your vision and intention that will overcome the external negative influences in our world.

How do you keep that conviction and commitment? In face of major challenges, how do you hold on to your initial intention and vision? What resource do you tap into to sustain and motivate yourself to remain positive? Who is the you you’re bringing to your search?

Next week…Core beliefs.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Can You Compete in the War for Talent?

A recent story in, entitled “Get a Head Start in the Coming War for Talent” outlined strategies employers need to embrace to retain and recruit the best employees. Talent retention and recruitment will be critical as the economy “emerges from the darkness.” Companies will need to keep their best employees and recruit talented people in order to be competitive.

The story noted the disconnect between employers’ and employees’ perceptions with current job satisfaction. Surveys show that up to 65 percent of employees are either passively or actively looking for new jobs. Employers think only 37 percent of their workforce is looking – thus, they’re “grossly out of touch.”

The article notes four strategies for employers to retain and recruit the best employees, including shifting the traditional emphasis from recruiting to retention; making their employees’ experience unique; taking care of their people in tough times; and paying attention to their “employee brand.”

A strong argument can be made that those 65 percent of employees looking to change need to embrace their own key strategies in order to compete in the upcoming talent wars.

Chief among those strategies is being able to tell your story; speak to the value you bring to an organization. Tell the story that differentiates you from the competition – that other 65 percent who are looking for new work.

Another key strategy is to know your audience. Know the organizations for whom you want to work; know what their challenges are; know how you’ll be able to help them address their challenges.

A third strategy is to use your network. Who are the people that can speak to your value? Can they connect you to others who can use your value? A corollary to using one’s network is building a network. Use and other social networks to connect to decision-makers and colleagues who can help you get access to the organizations in which you’re interested.

As you network, focus on “paying it forward.” Think of how you can be of help to the person you’re reaching out to. Don’t think in terms of what you can get out of the relationship; don’t think in terms of reciprocity; don’t keep score. If you keep score, you lose. Your value to others in your network is what you can do for them. Keep that in mind as you build connections.

Finally, nurture your network; keep your connections informed of what you’re up to. Let them know of your successes and of the changes in your professional life. Keep your network active. Let them know that you’re available to them; that you will help them as they helped you.

So, are you prepared to compete in the talent wars? Can you tell your story to prospective employers in ways that aligns your value to their challenges? Does your network know your value? Can its members connect you to employers that need your value? Can you do the same for them?

What other strategies do you need to employ to be competitive in the war for talent?