How to master your job search: The mindset

Master your job search

A job search these days is a pretty fraught thing. How do you master it?

If you’ve read this blog even a handful of times, you might know my basic deal:

  • Moved to Texas in July 2014 for a gig
  • Got fired from it in November 2015

I blogged about the whole process a little bit, and the July ’14 hire came on the back-end of a different job search that seemed to drag on forever. In reality? I was in graduate school at the time and just bored.

Point being: I’ve spent chunks of the last three years as a job-seeker, so I know it’s hard out there for a pimp. Heck, I once got rejected from a gig because of my hair.

Back to the main question, though: can a job search be mastered?

How To Master Your Job Search, Phase 1: The Mindset

Farai Chideya has a new book out called The Episodic Career, and in doing press for it, she spoke to Wharton’s website. She makes a lot of interesting points about the modern state of the job search and how to master your job search, but this one might be the best:

I have been able to survive because I keep networks alive. For example, over New Years, I ran into someone who I may end up doing business with, who I hadn’t seen in seven years, but because of the depth of the connection we had made, she immediately said, “Let’s talk. I’ve got this opportunity.” There’s a real case to be made, first of all, for understanding that life is not linear, it’s circular. You will re-encounter people over and over again, and your past behavior will shape your future opportunities.

I agree about 120 percent with that statement — networking is everything, essentially for these reasons:

  • 23 percent of all employees — even the happy ones — look for a new job every single day
  • That means tons of open job applications are getting tons of applicants — from tire-kickers to real candidates
  • The front-line of the recruiting and hiring process is full of semi-busy people who have to (a) communicate with hiring managers, (b) screen, (c) do phone interviews, and (d) put out other fires
  • In reality, they’re going to pay about six seconds of attention to your cold-submit resume — and that’s assuming the applicant tracking system didn’t screen you out
  • The only way you can rise above all this clutter is to have an ‘in’
  • The truest way to get an ‘in’ is through networking

You’ve probably heard all the 80-20 research related to networking, so I won’t bore you with that. Rather, here is the problem with how we approach networking in America:

Basically, for some reason — probably some male utopia bullshit — we all think we’re supposed to treat networking like Big Dick Larry hitting sales targets, barging into some mixer screeching about our metrics and flinging business cards around the room. In reality, networking is about a few things:

  • Listening
  • Doing good work for people so you can get referrals down the line
  • Keeping networks active
  • Generally not being an asshole

It’s kind of ‘show don’t tell’ for the business world in some ways.

How To Master Your Job Search, Phase II: Emotional/Psychological

Chideya also speaks to three points of the modern job search from an emotional standpoint:

  • Emotional resilience (you will get knocked down, so stand back up)
  • Understanding the job market (how it works // what people look for // hiring processes)
  • Self-knowledge and self-awareness

Interestingly, if you actually get a job, all these things again come into play in terms of:

If you’ve come this far, here’s where we’re at:

  • Develop and maintain a strong network
  • Understand failure is an integral part of the process
  • Try to think about the job search process from the other side
  • Inject some self-awareness into your job search

Most people I know during a job search hit maybe 1 or 2 of those — but it’s very rare to hit all four. If you want to master your job search from a mindset perspective, though, you need to.

Next week, I’ll write about how to master your job search from a process perspective (hiring systems, etc.) I’ll cross-link this post while I’m at it.

What other psychological tips and tricks have you seen in terms of mastering a job search?

Ted Bauer

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