Career Disappointment Is Not Devastation

Posted on October 8, 2012. Filed under: Job Search Tips | Tags: , , |

So it turns out that I have become somewhat obsessed with “The Voice.” You know that show on NBC where people from all walks of life who can sing undergo a blind audition to be on one of four celebrity judges’ teams?

If you haven’t seen it, contestants have to sing with the judges’ backs turned to them and hope/pray that one of them will push his or her button and turn around, granting them a sacred place on that judge’s team (and oh the sweet bliss if more than one judge turns around! Now they have to fight over you!). (Once the teams are full, the contestants then duke it out [musically, that is] to become that season’s “Voice”.)

My obsession with the show has to do with all the back stories they give you about some contestants during the blind auditions. They pick a few participants with each show (undoubtedly the ones with the saddest, most heart-wrenching tales to tell) to highlight BEFORE they go out to sing.

So taking a page right out of the Olympics (you know, right as the athletes are getting ready to compete, suddenly Bob Costas’s voice spurred on by some background music draws you into this back story of the athlete), The Voice does a good job of drawing you in, humanizing these people to the point where you just want to root for them (I mean, after all, this IS their moment, and they DESERVE it!).

Then, just like the Olympics, they go off to the audition to compete, and some make it and some don’t, offering you 60 minutes full of emotional triumphs and agonies (“The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat!”).

That is, of course, if you are a sucker for these back stories like I am 🙂

Like any junkie, however, I knew I had reached rock bottom when not that long ago I was watching with my husband and 8-year-old, and I found myself tearing up over some struggling artist who had moved to Nashville to make it big and had to park cars to get by, just believing that this was his big chance (sadly, though, no one pushed their button for him). He looked so forlorn when the realization hit that his days of parking cars were not quite over.

On the same show, another guy, who grew up on a pig farm and sang so high people often mistook him for a female, belted his falsetto heart out, just hoping for a chance to get away from those pigs, but alas, it also was not meant to be.

I have to admit that I was feeling pretty badly for both of these guys (sniffling, puffy eyes, and everything!) UNTIL I heard my 8-year-old say, “Oh mom, it’s not devastating or anything. They’ll be OK.”

I couldn’t help but smile because (1) she really does listen to me sometimes and (2) she understands what many people don’t: perspective.

As a career pro, I hear this word “devastating” a lot when job seekers are at the end of their rope with a job search. I also heard it several times during the Olympics when someone didn’t medal or didn’t win the gold they so expected.

But disappointment, not matter how severe, is not devastation.

Devastation is a complete wiping out of order, chaos, hopelessness, helplessness. It is complete and utter loss. It is most often associated with the ravages of war or earthquakes/tsunamis or death. Disappointment is, well, disappointing, a sadness that something did not work out as we had hoped. And disappointment, by the way, has many levels, from “ah shucks” to “I’m not getting out of bed for a year.”

It is important to understand the distinction here, especially when it comes to attitude and outlook.

We’ve become so casual in our use of the English language that we often use terms to describe things that are exaggerated and inaccurate (myself included!). And although we often think it is just a matter of semantics, the fact is that our words matter, especially when we reach a crossroads.

Whether it is the pig farmer on “The Voice” or the Olympic athlete who didn’t medal, in both cases, these people have experienced something so rare that many others could only dream about. They obviously have talents that they have been given the opportunity to nurture and develop, and the world has given them a stage to do their best to showcase these talents. For goodness sake’s, you don’t just go to the Olympics because you want to, and not everyone gets an invite to “The Voice.” You really do have to have the goods (not to mention all the competition leading up to this competition)! So although it is disappointing (extremely so) for them (and we can sympathize with them, tears and all) that they fell short of their expectations, it is certainly not devastating (especially when you think about all the things that really are, like war-torn countries, famine, death).

I mean, I wish I had one talent that was even half as good, much less a global venue to show it off! No one ever said to me, “Wow, you’ve got potential. Drop everything and devote yourself to this!” Just think about what a privilege that is! (Uh oh, if I’m not careful, I am going to start to feel “devastated!”)

Instead, like so many of us, I have had to carve a path that has brought wonderful surprises and deep disappointments. It’s just life. It doesn’t always cooperate, but then again, we also don’t always lose. Sometimes we even get amazing things we don’t deserve. (And sometimes, blessedly, we are protected from getting other things we do deserve.)

But once you mistake disappointment for devastation, you will miss all that for it will cloud every decision you make from there on.

I’ve seen too many job seekers go down this path from disappointment to devastation, and it really is, well, disappointing.

See devastation requires a complete rebuilding, if that is even possible, and nothing will every be completely healed because there has been irrevocable loss.

Disappointment, however, still has a chance. Things might have to change, the road might be different than you thought it was going to be, but the chance to salvage something out of it is still there.

Listen. It’s really awesome to dream big and to have high expectations and goals. We all want our children to do that, but disappointment is par for the course. Even if they meet one goal, another one might not work out. It just is what it is.

The difference comes in what you do with it when it comes. Are you prepared? In the end, that is what separates the winners from the losers…

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Social Media Job Search: Content vs. Conversation

Posted on August 7, 2012. Filed under: Job Search Tips, social media | Tags: , |

social media job search

Social Media Job Search

by Sheree Van Vreede (@rezlady)So, here you are, all set up with your social media profiles. You paid to have the LinkedIn profile written, you sweated over your personal branding statement, you set up your Twitter and Facebook info, and maybe you even built a website to showcase your resume.

Now what?

The challenge for the social media job seeker is how to determine what is worth doing and what isn’t.

Well, now it becomes a matter of content versus conversation. Most people are usually good with one but not so good with another. And some aren’t too sure about either.

If you’ve read my posts for a while now, you’ve heard me talk about “engagement” and “influence” when it comes to social media. (Check out “Social Media Job Search: It’s All About the Layering” and “Locked, Loaded, and Engaged: The Rules of Engagement“.) These terms are pretty much everywhere and hard to miss when you start researching the social media scene.

The other terms that are hard to miss are “content” and “conversation”. Over and over again you will hear “experts” talk about the importance of having “killer content” and “engaging conversation” as two key steps in gaining social media “influence.”

As a result, we now have a social media realm overloaded with info and, most likely, fake conversations. 🙂 And while everyone is trying to be so casual about it, the truth is that there is nothing casual about social media marketing.

And a social media job search is another form of social media marketing.

So should you spend all your time retweeting and sending out links to blogs and articles (some from you and some from others), or should you strike up witty conversations all over the web?

Unless you plan to devote hundreds of hours to learning all the social media strategies out there, my advice is to keep it simple and to remember why you are there in the first place:

Play up to your personal branding statement.

The whole idea of a personal branding statement is to present yourself in a unique, consistent way across all forms of connection. So when you approach what to say on Twitter or what to discuss in that LinkedIn group, you want to be thinking about how to reinforce your personal brand. If you specialize in X, talk about X, share posts about X, engage with others who know about X.

Now, that isn’t to say that you should be a one-trick pony. If you are, you’ll drive everyone crazy, but you do want to make sure that your followers know what you’re there for. My favorite approach is through images. I like to use cartoons, casual office pics, infographics, etc. and pepper that content in with my overarching message or brand.

People want to feel like they “know” the human side of you.

Think of it in terms of a neighbor. Most of us are curious about what our neighbors do for a living. “Steve’s a CIO.” In fact, we often share that info with others. (“That’s my neighbor, Steve. He’s a CIO at XX, Inc.”) But what really makes us happy is not just to know that Steve is a CIO but also to know that Steve is a CIO who has to mow his lawn or walk his dog just like everyone else. We don’t want too much info about Steve, but we want to know he’s a regular guy like we are (something politicians pay big bucks to advisors to try and portray but rarely do well).

Another good analogy is golf. As a female, I have heard for years that the golf course was the haven of the old boys’ network. And after learning how to play several years ago, and now participating in a weekly league, I can see why. Golf is just about the most humbling experience a person can have and yet somehow still have fun. After a round of golf with someone, it’s hard not to have some connection. It doesn’t mean you know each other’s intimate details, but you do know something about the other person’s character. And that’s the kind of person you want to help out back at the office, etc.

Social media is just another form of converting that network into opportunities.

So you want to use your time on it to make people feel like they understand the person behind the brand.

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Job Search Balancing Act: Launching a Job Search While Employed

Posted on July 16, 2012. Filed under: Job Search Tips | Tags: , , , |

Conducting a job search under any circumstances is no picnic. But managing a job search while you’re employed is brutal. I mean, really, the job search is supposed to be a full-time job for the unemployed. How does that work when you put in 40 or 50 hours each week at your company now? That is why the July 18th #TCFchat discussion topic (at our special time slot of 83pm ET on Twitter) is on topics to help those already employed as they prepare for the job search.

So please join us as we discuss these questions:
1. Will great perks like “paid, paid vacation” (http://www.inc.com/caitlin-berens/start-up-offers-workers-7500-to-take-a-break.html) convince you to stay in your current job, or make the leap to a new job if offered as part of your package?

2. Should you engage with IT or technical recruiters to help you with your job search?

3. How does someone that’s employed prepare themselves for a job search?

4. What expectations should you have when starting your tech job search?

5. Where should you spend the limited amount of time available with your job search?

Whether you are currently in a job search, have recently finished one, or are contemplating getting ready for one, we would love to hear your insight.

If you can’t make the chat, be sure to check back here afterward or check out the Tech Career Forum  LinkedIn group to get a recap of the discussion.

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