by Mariette Durack Edwards
The other day I was speaking with a young fellow who had been laid off from his job at a large consulting firm. His education and work experience were exceptional so I was surprised to learn he had been out of work for eight months. “Why so long?” I asked him. He launched into a list of things he couldn’t do, experience he didn’t have, and technology he didn’t know. All of these deficiencies plus “the economy” were why he was still looking for a job. It wasn’t until I asked him what he wanted to do in his next job that a glimmer of passion entered his voice.
Being out of work for an extended period is certain to erode even the most confident job-seeker. That’s why it’s so important that you stay focused on your strengths and how your special qualities, skills and abilities can benefit a potential employer. Remember you are the only person in the world who knows everything about what you know!
Here are a few job-hunting suggestions and strategies to help you stay on track with your job-search.
Never argue for your limitations
It’s easy to start thinking in terms of what’s missing if you’ve been out of work for a long time but arguing for your limitations will never bring you the work you seek. Focus instead on how you can position your unique skills and abilities to support a potential employer’s goals. Pay particular attention to the things that are so easy for you that they seem unimportant.
Fill in the gaps
Brag about your efforts instead of shining a spotlight on what you don’t have.
Think of yourself in terms of results
People buy solutions. A client who is a voice-over talent left this message recently for a customer she wanted to win back. “Hello, Bill. This is Jane Doe. I was the voice of Top Notch News during the three or four years when the network had its highest ratings. How can I help you regain that position? Call me at …” She got a request to submit her demo reel the next day. How will hiring you move others closer to their goals?
Ask good questions
Craft a series of questions that are open ended, thought provoking and position you in terms of results. Avoid directive questions that signal the answer you are looking for or require a yes/no response. Ask yourself, “What are the biggest questions I can ask in response to this opportunity?” For example, “What are the organization’s most important goals?” “How do you see this position impacting on the achievement of those goals?” “If I were offered the opportunity to work with your organization, what would you like me to accomplish in my first 90 days?”
Learn the art of selling
True selling is actually a wonderful process of learning about others and listening for an opportunity to serve through what you offer. It is the single most important tool in your job-search kit.
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.
Mariette Durack Edwards is a business and personal coach, consultant, speaker, and writer. Her latest book is The Way Things Work: 25 Must-Know Principles for Making Dreams Come True. Mariette can be reached via her Website.
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