On Becoming a Job Search Machine

Redwood trees blow my mind. They are awe-inspiring. I have a particular affinity towards Redwoods, and although I have never stood in their presence, I am certain that doing so will be a spiritual awakening.

In National Geographic’s current issue, there is a fascinating article entitled REDWOODS: The Super Trees,  about the Redwood Forests in California.

In the article, Evan Smith, vice president of forestland for the Conservation Fund says,

Redwoods are what’s known in biology as a very plastic species. [They’re] like machines. Once you get [them] going, you can’t stop [them].

This made me think of how difficult the job search process has become in  modern times. (okay, so my mind works in funny ways)

With advances in technology and the social media explosion, one would think that it would be easier to make connections and to land jobs in this day and age. Um, uh, hmm, well no – I’m afraid that’s not the case.

It is indeed counter-intuitive, but on the contrary, job seeker’s must be incredibly diligent and relentless simply to gain an opportunity to have a conversation with a hiring manager. Quite simply, it seems harder now than ever to apply for a job.

Of course, the current economic conditions don’t make the process easier, but even still…applying to a job now is never just a matter of forwarding your resume to a company that has a need for someone like you. You must always combine the tools of networking, online applications and personal branding to make headway. And even then, there is a good chance you will need some luck, too.

So – back to the Redwoods and Evan Smith’s statement.

It seems that career changers and job seekers, just like the Redwoods that have been around for thousands of years, need to become a “plastic species”. Mr. Smith says the trees are like machines – they never stop growing and replenishing themselves.

Job seekers & career changers also need to get positive momentum going and never let it stop. Momentum is the key to keeping your career alive.

Continuously expand your networking. Continue learning and keeping abreast of business and technological changes. This is even more important after you land a job.

Shift your paradigms if necessary – meeting new people can be interesting and fun with the right mindset. Pull back for a short time when you need to, but keep the energy going. Don’t let yourself fizzle.

One word of caution: Don’t become really plastic or really like a machine. Once you take the human element out of the equation, your uniqueness gets lost, you seem insincere and people get turned off.

Without authenticity and differentiation, you will definitely be placed on the endangered species list in the job market.

On a similar note – if you are interested in authenticity in a job search, you may find it interesting to read Cathy Keates’ blog “If I had a Hammer”.

What I like about her is that she is brave enough to introduce a novel idea – that perhaps we need a new approach to job search language; one that omits the idea of  ‘selling yourself’ or creating ‘commercials’ about your background.

QUESTION: Do you think her ideas are just about semantics, or do you think she’s hit on a good point here?

Check her out – Cathy Keates, author of Not For Sale! Why We Need a New Job Search Mindset


Heed the Hummingbird

Lately I have been doing a great deal of personal reflection about life, career and the laws of nature. Of course, this is nothing new for me, since my work with clients stems from a longing to understand how we can all live, work, feel connected to something meaningful while honoring our unique stance in the world.

Another reason for this intense reflection is because several friends and colleagues are struggling with the passing or serious illness of a loved one. If you have experienced this type of journey, you might relate to the internal “jolt” that it creates.

I happened upon Cathy Shaughnessy‘s prior blog entitled “On Leadership and Hummingbirds” this afternoon. The blog had those wonderful elements of profundity and simplicity that make us stop, listen and maybe for one moment, understand.

It occurred to me… that there is something to be learned from the way things work in nature. I discovered that hummingbirds have a couple of things in common with leaders.

Speed An average hummingbird can move at an incredible speed, flapping its wings between 80 and 200 beats per second and taking 300 to 500 breaths per minute. Amoung the most common challenges faced by the leaders that I work with today is the speed that they need to move to keep up with the pace of the work. It’s nothing short of break-neck.

Cross Pollination Playing a critical role in plant propagation, a hummingbird can pollinate 2000 blossoms each day and cover miles of ground in the process. [Most knowledge workers] …deal instead in the propagation of ideas, concepts, products and business relationships with a reach that spans the globe.

So, how does this tiny bird weighing no more than 10 grams keep on going? Simple. It stops sometimes. It enters a state called ‘torpor’, a period of deep rest in which it conserves about 60 per cent of its energy. It takes a break to just be still.

Cathy makes the analogy of hummingbirds and leaders. May I suggest that all of us are leaders in our own spheres. We must all consciously enter into “torpor” so that we can remember what’s important and feel the infinite potential of each moment.

We are on a very fast-moving train. It’s fun and challenging and exciting – yet we can easily miss the point of it all.

So there you have it. Another reminder to stop, listen and just ‘be’.

The irony of stopping is that it fills us with a sense of energy and calm, so everything we continue doing moves in a more positive direction.

When have you entered into torpor lately?