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


5 Responses

  1. Your post made me pull Harvey MacKay’s 1990 book, “Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty” off my bookshelf. It’s about pre-Internet / pre-Web 2.0 style networking. I’d recommend reviewing it or similar books before adding on the web-based layer. Get the basics of working with people first. And, if there’s a lesson that someone should take away from this disastrous economy (other than trying to have great wads of cash stashed away), it’s that one improves one’s chances by being hyper-networked, even outside … or maybe “especially outside” … one’s current profession. I see the process as working four layers: people who have never heard of you, people who have heard of you, people who know about you and people who actually know you. And the job of networking is to try to drive those contacts / potential contacts toward the most familiar layers. Ultimately, the last layer has a fairly finite space, if one is truly an authentic person. Still, if we expect to have a place in the job market, networking should be, like you say, a never-ending process whether we’re employed or not.

    • Thanks for your comments Richard. You have a unique perspective; and your mention of “Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty” brought back memories! I particularly liked your comment about being hyper-networked “especially outside” one’s current profession. I think we all tend to stay in our comfort zones and within the confines of our working identity.

  2. When I mentioned “outside your profession,” I was thinking of all those people at Wachovia and Washington Mutual who suddenly found no room to remain in the banking business. That’s not an uncommon event in other professions as well. It’s quite possible that knowing “everyone” in one’s own profession becomes, at least for a period of time … or maybe forever, utterly useless. There’s just nowhere to absorb people in what suddenly becomes an overfilled talent pool.

  3. Thats very good to know… thanks

  4. “Momentum is the key to keeping your career alive.”

    Very strong point! It is of human nature though to slow down in the middle of your efforts due to zero feedback on your initial applications.

    Personally, it was always when I thought I’m giving when interview calls come in and finally your well deserved job lands at your feet.

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