Harsh Career Tips: Confidence is Key, Availability is Not a Skill

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Encouragement is one of the main ingredients of career planning and the job hunt. I believe in the “You Can Do It!” attitude when it comes to finding that first job or a new one. If you don’t believe in yourself and how special you are, no one else will. You must believe you can add value to the organization, you must be confident, and you must convey that attitude in all career related situations. Never forget that. Ever.

But hope is not a strategy and believing in yourself only goes so far. If things aren’t going so well with your plan remember that time is not on your side. It may be time for a Plan B and to make that happen a dose of harsh reality may be what you need to put you back on the right track.

As I have seen career changers and new graduates grapple with the career journey some are a little too naïve. Too many are waiting for something to happen instead of making something happen. It’s important to be both self-aware and to brace yourself for what is a rigorous but exciting process. A few bullets out of the harsh reality playbook may help you avoid some pitfalls and move forward:

1. No one can or will find a job FOR you. You are not alone in the search, but it’s mostly you. Almost all you. Unless you are related to someone on the Forbes 400 list (and even then it’s no guarantee) you have to work the process hard. Sure, putting your resume up on LinkedIn is a good step, but it’s like playing the lottery. Odds are not great that when all you do is create a profile that someone out there might find it and hire you. Job sites are a good way to see what’s out there and sending out resumes is good too, but that’s not enough. Talking to the career services people is another step in the right direction. The process requires all these actions and way more but you have to do it. Working it hard and networking will prevail over expecting any shortcut or uncle to work a miracle.

2. You may not be qualified. After a long while, if your chosen path is not working out, there may be a simple truth that you are not facing – you don’t have the skills or background for the role you are seeking. Availability is not a skill. Just because you are available, if you are not qualified, nothing good will happen. You may not ever hear the phrase, “You are not qualified.” You may have to face that harsh reality on your own and come up with a Plan B that includes school, training, or a social skills refresher.

3. A false sense of activity is a trap. Spending hours on job search websites is a start but it’s only a start. Submitting resumes and applications is good. Information interviews and networking are both critical. But at the end of the week you should ask yourself, “How much time did I spend with someone who can hire me?” or “What did I do that will enhance my employability?” or “Who did I talk to that helped me or introduced me to someone who can hire me?” Be honest with yourself and regroup for next week. Spending hours on Facebook is probably not a good use of time.

Sometimes any gig that will get you out of the coffee shop and onto a payroll is a way to get started. The gig may not be perfect but it may help avoid these three harsh realities and get you on a track.

Believe in yourself but be honest with yourself. Be encouraging to yourself. Give pep talks to yourself. Don’t expect miracles. And don’t give up.

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