As a sports fan, this is one of my favorite times of the year…playoffs for NBA and NHL teams. Each year, even if my favorite team has been eliminated, I usually pick a team to cheer for throughout the playoffs. This year I’m fortunate to have a team near and dear to me in a drive for the Stanley Cup…the Chicago Blackhawks. Go Hawks!
Just as the seasons in professional baseball, basketball or hockey can be a long grind, you know that the job hunt can be a grind, as well. If you’re like me, your job hunt season has been a long one. According to a Rutgers University survey of one thousand people, just 21 percent of those unemployed last summer had found a job by March (see story from the Huffington Post here).
With this in mind, it’s time for those of us still looking for work to kick our job search into playoff mode. Here’s how:
1. Choose an Anthem. This should be any song that gets your blood pumping and makes you feel more alive and energized. Throughout history, many professional sports teams have had their own anthem that inspires, entertains and motivates them. In 2005, my beloved World Champion Chicago White Sox used Journey’s “Don’t Stop Belivin'” and even invited original Journey singer Steve Perry onto the field when they won the World Series. I also remember (barely) the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates using “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge as their anthem in the World Series.
Some possible anthems could include the “Rocky” theme song, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, “Lose Yourself” by Eminem, “Indestructible” by Disturbed, “Rock You Like a Hurricane” by Scorpions, “Best of You” by Foo Fighters, “Right Now” by Van Halen. The list goes on, but I would highly recommend something loud and fast to give you a shot of musical adrenaline.
2. Choose a Mantra. Choosing a mantra such as “ohm” when you meditate can help you focus on your meditation. The same can be true about using a mantra in the job search. Saying your mantra during challenging moments can help you to get through these moments a little easier and faster. Possible mantras can include: “you can’t bring me down,” “each resume I send out gets me closer to my next job,” “crush it!,” “make it happen” or “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” It also might be a good idea to put your mantra on a Post-It Note on your computer monitor. This might sound hokey or like a new-age approach to your job hunt, but these reminders can help you stay focused in moments when you need it.
3. Increase your Intensity. If you watch playoff basketball or hockey you know that the energy levels for these playoff games is extremely intense. Most games are extremely physical. The teams that usually win are the ones who bring their “A” game and a great deal of energy. Teams that lose usually appear flat.
Make sure you bring energy and intensity to your job search. This might mean making extra calls, attending more events and making more contacts. This is the time to go above and beyond what you are used to accomplishing…time to turn up the tenacity!!
4. Stay in Shape. Oftentimes, the teams that win in the playoffs are the best conditioned teams. By staying in shape, stretching and preparing, these teams avoid the key injuries and, this ultimately makes the teams tougher to beat. Their conditioning makes it possible to have energy and intensity when it really counts – during the big game.
It’s also important to stay in shape and exercise during the job search. This exercise will likely translate to more energy and intensity on your job search. It will also lead to clearer thinking, better decision making and a more positive, upbeat attitude (see the Wikipedia entry on endorphins here). A good night’s sleep also helps.
5. Make adjustments. In many ways, professional sports can resemble a chess match. Teams that make adjustments to their strategy within games are usually more successful. In basketball, we see this a lot with defensive match ups. The Los Angeles Lakers might want to have Kobe Bryant guard his opponent’s top scorer, but in doing so, it might take away from how well Kobe can score for his own team. No matter what strategic decision is made, what’s more important is the team’s ability to make adjustments if a given strategy isn’t working.
The same is true during the job hunt. If you’ve spent the majority of time in your job hunt responding to online help wanted ads and you’ve gotten little or no response, it’s time to change your strategy. It’s time to make adjustments and spend more time networking and meeting people. It’s time to change things up.
6. Stay Focused. In professional sports, good teams stay focused even when things aren’t going their way during the playoffs. They do not lose their composure or show frustration. These teams have a deep belief in their abilities, an inner compass that steers them toward victory.
Job hunters must keep focused, too. Despite setbacks and a tremendous amount of rejection, successful job hunters need to be resilient and have a short memory. They need to stick to the game plan (or make the appropriate adjustments) and and keep working and moving toward that job. It will happen.
How about you…how have you kicked your job search into playoff mode? I’d love to hear about it.
Creative Commons photo of the original Stanley Cup courtesy of scazon.
So many times when we think of creativity, we think of art, music, design, sculpture or photography. These are all fine examples of creativity that have been manifested. When we see artists, musicians and photographers produce good work (or any work for that matter), it is easy to classify these individuals as “creative.”
When we compare ourselves to these “creative” individuals, we sometimes get the feeling that we are not creative because we don’t always have anything to show for it.
Browsing the news on the Internet and talking to some friends of mine, it really struck me how all of us use our creativity every day at just about every moment. Here are a few examples:
- A man who completed his MBA in 2005 and was making six figures gets laid off in December of 2008. He decides to mow lawns for a living, has over 30 customers and is making roughly $45,000 a year. He works long, hard hours but manages to stay afloat in these challenging times. His decision to do something many people consider “beneath” them is a simple act of creativity in order to make ends meet.
- Saturday in the Smith household is considered “pancake day.” Every week Mrs. Smith, the hardworking mother of two follows the directions on the pancake mix: 2 cups of pancake mix, one cup of milk, two eggs. One Saturday, however, Mrs. Smith decides to add cinnamon, chopped walnuts and a small dash of vanilla extract to the mix. The family is surprised by the tweak to the pancake recipe and they love it. Mrs. Smith’s creative twist to the recipe has made an ordinary Saturday breakfast memorable for her family.
- A very successful salesman has been out of work for more than a year. He has spent considerable time making calls, networking, sending out resumes and creating his profile on various social media tools. In doing his research, he discovers a company overseas that does not have a presence in the United States. Instead of a resume, he submits a marketing plan that details how this company could expand into the U.S. After several meetings, the salesman is hired to help the company expand into the U.S. market.
- A recent college graduate aspires to be a director and producer of television commercials. He knows that one way he can get his foot in the door is to get hired as a production assistant (essentially a go-fer). Because the industry is so competitive, even getting a job as a production assistant can be difficult. In his cover letter to various production companies he offers to work for free for three days instead of the usual rate of $150 per day. He knows that once he can demonstrate his resourcefulness, that companies will soon want to hire him. He gets hired as an unpaid production assistant, which leads to additional paid opportunities and hasn’t looked for work since. He knows that he is on the right track to eventually becoming a television commercial director.
The above stories are all examples of problems and situations that we encounter all the time. These stories also involved varying amounts of skill, determination and creativity in order to stand out and be a little different… but usually they don’t involve paints, chalk or even crayons. All of us encounter roadblocks and challenges along our daily paths…and all of us have the opportunity to use a little creativity and tenacity to get past these problems. Sometimes the solution is just a matter of a slight tweak, a different approach to the way we do something.
How about you…have you used your creative problem solving skills to get past any obstacles recently? Have you made any recent changes to your “usual routine?”
Creative commons photo by laffy4k.
For bicycle messengers (and other cyclists), the winter is what separates the professionals from the wannabees. I realized this earlier today as I was walking downtown in Chicago on a cold, gray and windy day as I watched a lone cyclist struggle to pedal fast down the street.
Once upon a time, when I was out of high school looking for a summer job, I wanted to become a bike messenger. It was partly inspired by my love for cycling and watching Kevin Bacon in the movie Quicksilver. I decided against the bike messenger gig because it would have involved a 14 mile round-trip ride plus whatever miles I would cycle during the workday.
Seeing this lone bike messenger today also reminded me of a time about 10 years ago when I was working a freelance gig at a local university. On one very cold, snowy day, a bike messenger (who was less than six feet and 150 lbs.) walked into our office to deliver a 10 ream box of paper. I will never forget that moment he walked in — out of breath, dripping wet and his glasses so fogged up that I’m surprised he knew where he was going. My mouth dropped wondering how this rather small guy could deliver such a large, heavy package in near-blizzard conditions. It turns out he rode more than two miles with the box on his front handlebars.
Recalling this incident again today reminds me of an earlier post I wrote about showing up. It prompts me to ask:
What is it that you want to do so badly that your willing to show up every day, no matter how bad the weather or how crazy you look doing it? What is it that you love doing so much that your salary is secondary to your personal satisfaction? What are you willing to do that all the wannabees don’t want to do?
Creative Commons photo courtesy of Jesse.Millan
Two Thursdays ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Chicago stop on Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crush It! book tour. I enjoy Gary’s passion for wine and the fun that he brings to drinking wine. Truth be told, I would consider myself more of a beer drinker (with an appreciation for craft beers), but watching an episode of Gary’s Wine Library TV seems to have me reaching for a glass of wine more often these days.
Attendees of the event were able to sample wines from different event sponsors, including Chicagoland’s Lynfred Winery where I sampled a very tasty Pinot Griggio and talked with their wine representative. The crowd was young, professional and very tech savvy, a testament to the power and reach of Gary Vaynerchuk who has used social media to promote his wine business and his new bestseller, Crush It!
About an hour into the party, a very tired, well-traveled Gary Vaynerchuk is welcomed by an eager audience. He’s offered food, but instead prefers to start the discussion and Q & A session. He tells us that now is the best time to find your passion and build a business around it. The world of social media now makes it possible for everyone to promote their product, brand or service in ways that only large businesses used to be able to do.
As someone who loves marketing, I am impressed with his business instinct and ability to spot trends. But I hear something that captures my attention: Gary’s description of the “Thank You” economy, which is dependent on businesses providing great service (and caring) to its customers. For more on the thank you economy, please watch this brief video:
After at least 90 minutes of speaking and answering questions, Gary takes some time to sign books and meet attendees. I am amazed at his ability to effortlessly eat dinner, sign books, shake hands and take pictures. He is noticeably tired, but few people hustle and seem to care about his fans as much as Gary does.
In addition to talking briefly with Gary, I bump into a former coworker, a woman who’s a semi-professional photographer and a video blogger named Ross who traveled from Wisconsin to attend the event.
I also ended up sharing a great conversation with Shawna Coronado, who writes a blog called The Casual Gardener and has self published a book called Gardening Nude. We talk about the challenges of blogging and she helps me out with some tips to combat writer’s (or blogger’s) block. I am amazed to learn that Shawna is already practicing much of what Gary has spoken about…due to illness, Shawna left a successful corporate career to write about how gardening, healthy eating and living “green” have changed her life for the better. As we depart, Shawna gives me a copy of her book…just another example of the thank you economy (and good karma) in action.
I leave the event feeling a strong sense of community and possibility. I’ve been blogging for about a year and a half, but it is the first time that I feel a real sense of connection from it. I’m not sure where this blogging journey will take me, but I feel that I must end this post by extending a hearty thank you to everyone who has supported and encouraged me here as I try to create a sense of community.
To watch an episode of Wine Library Television in which Gary pairs wine with cereal, click here.