Are you just marking time?

No, I mean it. Are you?

If you’re contemplating looking for a job or you’re currently actively seeking one, I’d like you to just stop for a moment and ask yourself what sort of job you’re chasing and why you’re pursuing it.

Here are a few answers (some of which overlap) – see if any of these caps fit. It’s:

  • Because I’ve always done that sort of work
  • Because it’s the next step in my career
  • Because I just need a job – any job
  • Because that’s what I’m expected to do
  • Because that’s what I’ve trained to do

… and you can add some more if you like.

The point is that not one of those was ‘Because I really want to do it’. Now that is a real tragedy because you spend a large part of your life at work and you will not get that time again.

How did you get into the line of work you’re in, anyway?

Was it because of:

  • An introduction to it from someone
  • Advice from a careers consultant
  • Pressure from family or friends
  • It was all that was on offer
  • You liked the idea of it at the time

If you chose anything except the last answer, there’s your problem. The other reasons were good at the time but they’re stop-gap reasons and not a justification for a career. If you’re not happy in your job then, at the risk of sounding like some long-haired 60’s relic:

Why don’t you reinvent yourself?

Have you finished laughing?

I can hear the skeptics screaming things like “You don’t understand, I’ve got a family to feed/bills to pay …” etc. Yes, I’m sure you have, but please just bear with me for a minute or two while I explain my rationale.

According to this video, 84% of working people are fed up with what they do. Are you one of them?

As I’ve said on numerous occasions in these blogs, in my career I’ve had to wade through literally thousands of resumes, CV’s, application forms – call them what you will. One of the glaring things which came through from reading all those pages was that the vast majority of people were really just expressing a token interest in the jobs our company had on offer. And why was this?

Because deep-down they didn’t want the job and their subconscious was telling them not to get it. Which is exactly what happened – they didn’t.

No, this isn’t psycho-babble (I can’t stand that stuff either). It’s reality and I can prove it.

Goodbye and fare thee well

Think about a relationship you’ve been in where you’ve realized that it was going nowhere. Concentrate on remembering your mannerisms, the language you’ve used, the fights you’ve picked, the little niggles that irritated you in the forerunning to the big bust-up. There will have been times – probably numerous – when you said things which you knew were provocative. Chances are you couldn’t help yourself; the words just tumbled out.

That’s exactly what I mean.

With your job applications there are a host of things that give the game away that you don’t really want the job. For example:

  • Choice of language
  • How the job application is compiled
  • Handwriting
  • Sloppy spelling and grammar
  • Adherence to submission instructions

… and if the application doesn’t betray you, wait until I do the interview!

In other words, there’s just no point in submitting hundreds of applications for jobs you don’t really want because you won’t get them. That is, not unless the company is desperate (in which case, would you want to work for them?) or you’ve been lucky enough to get a sloppy interviewer.

So, by now I hope that my notion of reinventing yourself isn’t sounding quite so crazy. Just for the record, when I use the phrase, I’m not talking about dropping out and spending your days smoking something unmentionable in a Thai beach hut.

Attractive though that may be, I’m talking about the real world and real responsibility.

So, how DO you reinvent yourself? The best answer depends on how your thought processes work so I’m going to give you two ways I consider pretty effective. With any luck, one or the other should suit you.

Before you start

We all have hidden talents

I’d like you to write down all the things that you’re good at. I don’t just mean work, I mean hobbies and interests, too. Bizarre? No, not really. Your hobbies and interests describe you far better than your job title ever can. Additionally, please write down your major aspirations (and I mean realistic ones, not daydreams!).

Method 1
I want you to put that list aside for a day or two because I need you to come to it with a clear mind. Then, read it through and write a profile of the person based solely on what you see – no ‘remembering’, ‘adjusting’, ‘editing’ or anything else you dream up. Stick to what the words tell you – no reading between the lines.

What job would you advise the person on the paper to do?

Method 2
I want you to pretend you’re in front of a senior employment agency representative and he or she is interviewing you about what job you should be put in for. The job you’ve always done is not available – not now, not ever. Therefore, whatever you decide, you’ve got to come up with something different.

Is the job you come up with ‘more you’ than the one you actually do every day?

Bears thinking about, doesn’t it?

In conclusion

I’m well aware of all the arguments for staying put:

  • It’s the devil I know
  • I’m good at it
  • That’s what’s available
  • It pays the bills

And I’m also aware that the grass is always greener on the other slope but sometimes it pays to travel a bit and, as I’ve said, there’s no point just sending in resume after resume in a half-hearted attempt to get jobs you don’t really want.

After all, and returning to my original comment about barking up the wrong tree, sometimes it pays to branch out.

Good luck.

The Boss

The Boss ran an employment agency for 12 years before selling it to a rival company. During the years of his directorship, the business received over 15,000 job applications and had nearly 1,000 active outworkers at any one time. Before that, The Boss was a senior officer in marketing and management. As a key part of his work, he has both devised aptitude tests and interviewed extensively. He is now a busy careers journalist.