Job Search – Overcoming Self-Limiting Beliefs

Do You Believe in Yourself?

When you are unemployed one of the biggest challenges you face is the lack of belief in yourself. I constantly encounter job seekers that are full of self-doubt and lack confidence. Why are they like that? Have they always suffered from those issues? In some cases yes, but many times it is something new for them.

The sad part is that when you get down on yourself, there are many people that are more than happy to reinforce what you are feeling. How do you remove yourself from that situation? What can you do to get yourself on the right track?

Recognizing Your Self-Limiting Beliefs

You are dealing with some type of self-limiting belief that is holding you back. Whether you believe that your skills are out of date, that you cannot network because that is not who you are, maybe you believe that you are too old, it could be that you simply believe you do not know the right people, or whatever. You are dealing with the problem of some self-limiting beliefs and it may be killing your chances.

So what is it the challenge that you are facing? What are your self-limiting beliefs? What is standing in the way of the success that you deserve?

It is critical that you go through the exercise of self-evaluation to honestly identify the belief or beliefs that are holding you back. Until you complete this process you will continue to be stymied or at least experience less than satisfactory success in your job search.

My Story

A few years ago I was let go from a job and I believed the action was unjustified and more a response to my asking too many questions, that were proving to be embarrassing for the CEO, than anything to do with my performance. I had a hard time letting go of the situation and I know that it contributed to at least one lost opportunity. In fact, the hiring manager mentioned to my recruiter that I seemed to be having difficulty discussing the job loss.

Subsequently while I still labored trying to find my next opportunity I started questioning my skill set, my age, and countless other things. None of those were my actual problem, my problem was my belief system. I heard people raising these issues and chose to subscribe to their negative thoughts; instead of believing in myself.

It was a very difficult period and my self-limiting beliefs were not helping. I allowed anyone and everyone to reinforce those beliefs which caused me to spiral even more. It wasn’t until I came to grips with what I was doing to myself before I could finally move forward.

So What Is Your Story; What Is Holding You Back?

I have told you my story, what is yours? What are the self-limiting beliefs that you are allowing to stand in your way? Can you identify them? Are you even willing to identify them? When you can step up to that challenge and face those realities; you will then be ready to overcome your self-limiting beliefs.

As you go through the analysis do not be afraid or surprised if you identify multiple self-limiting challenges; it is not unusual. Face them, do not hide from them; you cannot overcome the issues if you cannot acknowledge them.

If you have difficulty identifying the issues or they seem to difficult to overcome; you may need to enlist the help of a career coach or someone that you can trust to be honest and open with you. Whatever the case; you must take the necessary action so that you can move forward.

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Are You Prone to Attitude Discrimination?

What is your attitude about your job search?

Are you excited and optomistic or hesitant and doubtful?

Job seekers often do not understand that they will typically wear their attitude on their sleeve. The interviewer can see it; it can even come through in your resume or cover letter. Job seekers that present themselves as excited and optomistic; will 9 times out of 10 win the job; and the time they do not win, probably it was not what they wanted in the first place.

So where are you in this spectrum?

When you have an attitude of hesitancy and doubt; you will sabotage your possibilities and your opportunities. The successful job seeker goes into every job search and interview expecting to be offered the position; once offered they can take time to evaluate the offer and whether it is right for them.

I have been there!

I know that this is true, because I have been a victim to my own self doubt and hesitancy and it has cost me opportunities. Granted some were opportunities where I was not excited and it showed and I honestly did not care one way or the other. Others were situations where I was excited about the opportunity, but I did not present well in all of the interviews.

Poor Attitudes Result in Rejection

The problem is that when you have this preconceived notion or attitude the recruiters and hiring managers can see it. They have seen it before and they are recognizing it again. If the job seeker has a negative attitude when they are in the interviewing process; what will it be like once they are on the job? Managers and recruiters do not want to run this risk; so they reject the candidate.

Why add a negative influence into the work environment?

Why would a company want to introduce what it appears to be a negative attitude into the workplace. The reality is that the company already has enough bad attitudes and they do not need one more. Is this discrimination on the part of the recruiters and hiring managers? Absolutely not; the best choice is to move on to the next candidate and hope for a better option.

There are other fish in the sea!

In today’s job market especially; there are many other job seekers and some will have greater potential. That being the case it is better for the recruiter, hiring manager, the organization, and probably for the individual as well; to move on and look for another candidate.

Examining attitudes

Here are some attitudes that will stand in the way of your being successful in your job search:

  1. You cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
  2. I have paid my dues; what more do you want from me?
  3. I have over 20 years experience; I know the answers!
  4. My experience speaks for itself; I’m not interested in jumping through your hoops.
  5. You don’t like older people; do you?
  6. Why do you want me to do it that way; I’ve been doing it like this for 20 years and never had any problems!
  7. I don’t like to learn new things.
  8. I have some great ideas on how you can do this better.
  9. My last boss was … (fill in the blank)
  10. How much time off do I get?
  11. How hard do you expect me to work?
  12. I will do anything you ask, but … (fill in another blank)
  13. Tell me about your benefit package

Obviously the list can continue ad infinitum and you are welcome to add your comments to this list.

In summary; your attitude will have a far greater impact on whether you get the job than will your grey hair and wrinkles. These are tough times for job seekers and to be successful you must move beyond the idea that your biggest problem is your age; because that is probably NOT your biggest problem. Be open to self evaluation and examine everything about you before jumping to the “age discrimination” conclusion.

Have a great career!

Age Discrimination Or Attitude Discrimination – Which is It?

I understand the issue of age discrimination; I have even considered and stated it to be an issue. I am also sure that there are occasions when age discrimination occurs.

Is it age or attitude discrimination?

After some of my recent conversations I have come to rethink that mindset and see it more likely as an attitude problem or an excuse for not getting a job; “they did not want me because I am too old.” The excuse works; it is acceptable; people do not question it – not only do they not question it; they will offer it for you!

What I see

What I see, in my role as a career and job counselor, is the fact that those that have proven themselves over a long career often want to and some even feel they deserve to – rest on their laurels. At the same time those doing the hiring have become accustomed to and come to expect and choose to avoid even a hint of that mentality. If there is any suspicion of the “coasting” mentality; the avoidance mechanism kicks in and the recruiter/hiring manager moves on.

I frequently hear comments from those in the over 50 group about 3, 5, or 7 years and then heading off for retirement. Those doing the hiring interpret that as someone that is looking to “serve out” their time and then move on to what they really want to do. The coasting mindset does not serve anyone; least of all the job seeker.

What business wants

Businesses want people that are hungry, want to contribute, and even have a desire to once more make a name for them. Whether that is or is not the typical mindset of the older person; many have decided that it is the mindset.

Another issue is that those doing the hiring see the older person as having a salary expectation that may be consistent with past performance, but question whether it will be consistent with future performance? The job seeker has this perception that, “the businesses do not want to pay me what I am worth.” Is that the case or is it that the business wants to give good value and be sure they will receive good value in return? Again, I believe it is the latter. Employees are an investment and like any investment there must be a positive return on that investment.

If there is any suspicion that future performance will not meet the expectations of need; it is off to another candidate. Hiring managers simply do not know what to expect and if there are any doubts will rule a candidate out. What those doing the hiring truly want to know is what can and will you do for them and is the benefit worth the cost?

What is your commitment?

How committed are you going to be; when you make a comment about something for the next 3 – 7 years? Does that sound like the commitment you would want? Would you hire that person? You must look at your comments, qualifications, and mindset from the business perspective.

The age 65 and out mentality

Part of the problem is the perceived retirement age of 65; this is a psychological barrier for the older employee and for the hiring manager as well. Just this last week I was listening to a sports commentator discussing Bobby Bowden at Florida State and whether it was time for him to step down; he is 80. Many people think it is time, but because of Bowden’s tenure; Florida State says it is up to him to determine the time and place.

It may be time for Bowden to go, but interestingly in a few areas the “65” factor does not apply: sports coaches and managers, politicians, physicians, clergy, speakers and motivational speakers, consultants, and some others. But without fail it applies to employees of a business. If you are over 50 there is that business perception and maybe it is a misperception, but perception none the less; that you will be retiring soon and simply want to coast.

The “Coasting” mentality

There are coasting jobs such as greeters at Wal-Mart or jobs at McDonalds. This is not meant as a negative for Wal-Mart and McDonalds; those are just not career positions and neither is the 3 – 7 years and out mindset. The Wal-Mart and McDonalds jobs for many simply present the opportunity to get out meeting, greeting, and doing something worthwhile.

What are you doing to improve?

What you must decide is whether you have the desire to contribute and are willing to demonstrate that to the person doing the hiring. If you are an older and especially if you are unemployed these are some ideas of what you could be doing:

      * Adding value to your offerings.
      * Reading relevant materials to your job.
      * Getting that additional education you need.
      * Presenting yourself as a contributor.
      * Identifying your chronological history of contributions.
      * Being active with charitable, non profit, church related, or other activities.
      * Learning new skills or technologies.
      * Teaching yourself new skills with computers or Microsoft applications.
      * Networking with current and past friends and coworkers.
      * Helping others through education and mentoring.

Do you need to reassess

It is time for the over 50 crowd to reassess how they are presenting themselves. Are you looking like a contributor; somebody that will add to the organization or do you present as someone just waiting to call it quits. If you are unsure or there is any doubt; it is time for you to reassess.

Effective Resumes – Above the Fold is Prime Real Estate; Do Not Waste It!

I am in the process of reviewing three resumes and each one is wasting the prime real estate. By the time I reach the fold I have not read anything that catches or keeps my attention. Because I help develop resumes I will continue to read and provide advice for improvement.

Effective resumes are difficult to write; the writer often gets wrapped up in impressing themselves instead of impressing the potential reader. There are many areas of the resume that I can write about; but in this article I will focus on the area above the fold.

First of all it is important to identify yourself and how best to contact you, but it is a waste of space to use one line for your name, another for your street address, the next for your city and state, followed by your telephone number, and finally your email address. A much more effective format is:

  1. Center your name – this should be your full name with a middle initial or name in bold and a slightly larger font size
  2. On the left side put your street address and on the right side put your preferred telephone number
  3. On the left side put your city, state, and zip code and on the right side put your email address
  4. Center the job title, if you are responding to an advertised position put that title – do not leave the recruiter wondering – again this is in bold and a slightly larger font size

After identifying yourself and the position you are seeking you can include an objective, but only if it addresses what you will do for your new employer. Recruiters and hiring managers do not care if you have 20 years experience. What they care about is what you can do for them. For instance:

IT Project Manager with a track record of completing enterprise projects on time and under budget seeking next opportunity. Experienced in creating successful organizational project management mentality increasing project acceptance and success.

Then you must create a strong Professional or Career Summary section. This should be 4 to 6 bullets that highlight what you have accomplished.

      *Organized and managed IT SOX Compliance programs eliminating prior year defects and generating successive “Clean SOX audits” for the past two years
      *Reorganized six enterprise projects and brought to completion in 9 months teaching project management skills to team members
      *Rescued enterprise IT infrastructure upgrade project and completed roll out in 7 months training four support teams in the process
      *Managed integration and migration of six legacy email systems generating over 6,000 messages per hour into Lotus Notes
      *Recognized by: HQ US Air Force and HQ Strategic Air Command for Superior Performance; IBM as Regional Rookie of the Year; Novell as Outstanding Educator; Graduated Cum Laude simultaneous with Service in the Air Force

Following these examples will get the attention of your reader; if those are the skills they require. If those are your skills but not what the organization requires; you will not get the attention you are seeking because you are not what they need. Do not get hung up on the idea that you were rejected because that is not what happened; they just did not or do not realize the need for your skills. It is time to move on!

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Does your resume pass the “So What” test?

I am perplexed. I am confused. I am frustrated. This is really a bad situation for me. I was just listening to Jack Canfield, author of “The Success Principles” and he was talking about “I am” statements and how they impact your thinking. Your “I am” statements should be positive and uplifting, but right now – mine are not.

I have been reviewing some resumes and I do not know what people are thinking. The purpose of your resume is to sell yourself to the reader and it is amazing how many fail. This is your story and you must tell it in a way that catches the reader’s attention immediately! Starting out 20 years experience blah-blah-blah; doesn’t do it. It’s boring and you imeediately lose the reader’s interest.

Can you imagine a newspaper story starting out like that? It sure wouldn’t sell many papers and it wouldn’t last long in the market. As with a newspaper, you must make your copy interesting! You need a headline that is going to get the prospective reader’s attention and draw that person into your story.

With everything you put in your resume, you should ask the question SO WHAT? If you can’t think of a great response that will entice the reader then FIX IT or GET RID OF IT! Can I say it any more bluntly?

This is your story; make it interesting!

If finding a new opportunity is a serious quest for you, then get serious about your resume!

Make your story sell!

Up the Ante – Don’t Stop with Just a Resume or Application Submission

Submitting your resume or application is just the first step in applying for the job. There are tens, hundreds, or in some cases even thousands that have done the same.

You must submit your resume or application as instructed, because you need to follow the rules for any posted job. If you don’t; you have just given the recruiter or whomever all the reason they need to eliminate you. Remember because of Equal Employment Opportunity requirements they need to comply with their own rules; they have no choice but to eliminate you or else run the risk of a law suit. Don’t take chances; submit the required information in the manner specified. Even if you have inside help at the very top of the organization; you must still follow the rules.

Once you have submitted as instructed; it is time to break the rules and go for the job. When you have submitted the resume and/or application you can then go directly to the specific recruiter or even better the hiring manager. Pull out all the stops and use the resources at your disposal to promote yourself for the position.

If you have done your networking homework and the proper care and feeding of your network (see my blog article) it is time to put your network to work for you. If you don’t have contacts it’s time to make your own connections and learn the name of the hiring manager or others that might help by querying your strong contacts and through your strong contacts your weak connections.

Read my previous posting on finding your unique value proposition. You need to distance yourself from the other applicants by show casing the skills that make you the best candidate.

You can get more ideas on resumes and your overall job search at www.smartresumewritingsystem.com. There’s a lot of free stuff available for you to download.

What is your unique value or selling proposition?

This is a THINKing exercise. In the past IBM gave out desk signs that had the work THINK on it. We are always thinking, but what is it that we are thinking.

Right now, during your job search, you need to be thinking about what makes you uniquely attractive to a prospective employer. Realize that there is probably nothing unique that would apply to all employers, but there may be something different that would make you uniquely attractive to a specific employer.

1. Maybe it’s a skill you possess or a previous employer where you worked.
2. Maybe it’s your knowledge of a process or procedure.
3. Maybe it’s the intimate knowledge you have of an industry.
4. Maybe it’s how a previous employer does business.
5. Maybe it’s the people or contacts that you have within your network.

There is something about you that can make you stand out; your job is to identify that characteristic.

If you look at any successful business person there was something uniquely special that brought them to their current position. What is your unique value or selling proposition? Package it properly and this is what will get you the opportunity that you desire!

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