Everything at stake

Posted by Doc
Aug 17 2011

Given that I’m in the process of job searching, and spent a chunk of this year supporting my wife in her job search, I’ve had a few realizations. Some of them are things I’ve taken for granted in the past, some are new.

Today’s is something that I’ve been aware of but never before articulated.

Many people experience the job search process as an “everything’s at stake” series of situations. Every phone conversation is treated as though their entire future depends on it. Every interview is treated as though they must get this job or they will be seen as useless, unemployable, or otherwise worthless.

Of course, searching for a job is – and should be – treated as a job. After all, there is truly a lot at stake. It should be taken seriously, and given appropriate time, energy, and responsibility.

That said, though, there’s no reason that it can’t also be – wait for it – fun!

I’ll admit that I might be an anomaly, an oddity, an outlier. I enjoy interviewing. I enjoy networking. I enjoy the opportunity – yes, opportunity – to meet new people, learn about businesses, and explore where I fit into the world of business and work.

The reality is that I will not get most of the jobs I apply for. Most of the companies I talk with won’t offer to hire me.

So if I accept that as the reality of my situation, and if I approach each individual situation with the seriousness and respect it deserves, is there any reason I should not enjoy myself along the way?

In the book “Go for No! Yes is the Destination, No is How You Get There” by Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz, the authors make the case that if you are going to get 99 nos for every yes in your sales career, then the sooner you get the nos, the sooner you’ll get to the yes! And interviewing and job searching is, in its own way, about selling, and you are the product you’re selling.

Last week, while attending Agile2011, I met and talked with dozens of people. I learned more about the Agile community, the businesses in that community, and the opportunities that might – or might not – suit me. My world and my worldview are richer as a result.  When one (or maybe more than one) of those companies I spoke with makes me an offer, I’ll be in a better position to make a decision.

For me, I do much better when I approach each conversation (and interviews are conversations) in a relaxed manner.

This means that I have to avoid the feeling that everything is at stake in this conversation. And, since most of the people/companies I talk with won’t make me an offer for any number of reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with my value as a human being and a professional of some kind, then maybe I can enjoy the conversation.

If you know me, you know that I do enjoy them. I wish more people could.

3 Responses

  1. […] my previous post about “Everything at stake“, several folks have commented to me both publicly and privately. One of the important points […]

  2. YvesHanoulle says:

    Hi Steve,

    Johanna Rothman started a series agile job searching.

    I’m not sure you need this, but I guess it can’t hurt.

    I personally don’t agree that everything is at stake. Not your life, not the love of your wife etc. These are the things that matter.

    As a freelancer I had times that I refused jobs even when I needed the money; I refused jobs because I only wanted to do the work that I liked and that I knew I could make a difference. Not accepting any job was way more importnat to me (for all possible reasons) then just accepting a job to pay a morgage.

    At worst you will loose your house. So what, you’ll survive.
    Once you passed that phase, it is a lot easier to know what you want.

    The best book I know for finding the job you want is “what colour is your parachute”
    It’s an old and a classic book. Even if you have read it ages ago, it’s wurth rereading it once in a while.

    People like you find the job they deserve.



  3. Gregg Yows says:

    Hi Doc!
    I think it is also important to do what you describe above even if you have a job. First of all, it’s much easier to be relaxed and critical of the opportunity if you are already employed. Second, it may help you to appreciate where you currently are. I try to interview regularly even when I am not on an active job search-even if it’s just lunch with a friend in a hot company or who is doing something I think is cool. IOW, don’t wait until after you have lost a job to do your networking!

    All the best,

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