“Find out what you love to do, and you don’t need to work a single day.” an old adage resuscitated in 2005 by the Steve Jobs at the Stanford Commencement Speech. While true for some, finding your passion is a dead fish for other mid-careers looking to reinvent themselves, students at the cross-roads or early stage of their careers. Instead, here are 5 ideas which my coaching clients have found useful in building resilience in their job search.
1. I- Be Interested, not interesting –
Chris Gardner, a homeless man who rose to become a successful stockbroker, and inspired the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” has this to say about the secret to success: “find something you love to do so much, you can’t wait for the sun to rise to do it all over again.” Yet when I watched the movie, I didnt get the sense that the Will Smith character had a sense of what he was getting into, when he applied for his first real break. So how do you find out what you’re passionate about? Ironically, most students I speak to, who’re stuck in their career choice, have no idea what they’re passionate about. Instead, I would suggest that instead of the pressure to be interesting or sound intelligent in conversations, try to be interested. Develop a keen interest in trends and current issues affecting the career of choice. Be relevant, current and global. The #1 complaint of recruiters is that while candidates are academic smart, some are not aware of current issues affecting the industry. In the minds of employers, this lack of interest reflects a certain work ethic carried over from “Will this come out in the exams? If not, I’m not going to study this ” type of mindset to the marketplace. If you know something others don’t, you’ve carved out a niche for yourself.
2. D- Dopamine not caffeine
Working on your job search is intensely stressful. Intellectuals from Beethoven to Einstein have testified how going for long walks sparks off creativity. The most dramatic example of the benefits of this advice came from one of my post-graduate coaching client. Although academically brilliant, he was so stressed that all our coaching exercises seemed to head for zilch. “Take a break – go running.” This turned out to be a game changer. The week after he started running, he became calmer, gained focus and clarity. A job posting opened up. He was one of only 3 candidates who saw that posting, one was disqualified, and both who applied were accepted. Studies have shown that spending time with loved ones, socialising with friends can also increase dopamine levels. Dopamine is the body’s organic antidote for career resilience.
3. E – Develop expertise
What kind of skills are valued in your preferred career? Build them before you need them. According to Malcolm Gladwell in his bestseller “Outliers”, luminaries from Mozart to Tiger Woods, all have something in common. Willingness to put in hard work – or the 10,000 hours rule. Great achievement is not about natural talent but about accumulating great amount of practice. Career satisfaction is a by-product of excellence. So how to find a fulfilling career? Explore and eliminate those career choices that you either cannot fathom working 10,000 hrs or can’t stand people in that industry.
4. A – Be authentic – Know what is meaningful for you and develop an action plan. Be aware of barriers and contradictions between your values and workplace norms. If both success in a fast-paced industry, as well as being home at 6pm in the early stage of your career, are important to you, ask yourself if this contradicts what is considered acceptable behavior in your workplace.
5. S – Self – What do others say about you? What do you say about yourself? Do you need to change what others say about you? Exercise: Develop a 10 sec coherent introduction of yourself, who you are, your past and your life goals. This simple exercise helps you gain trust as well as communicate a vision of where you’re going to those who can help you. Don’t fret if you can’t nail it at first try. This takes practice and fine-tuning. Have two versions, one for formal occasions and another for informal social occasions with personal nuggets.