A Few Aphorisms to Guide a Job Search

My father, a master teacher as well as world renowned graphic designer, used aphorisms to teach us as children. Some that he had to frequently repeat to me included “The guilty man fleeth when no man pursueth” and “He that must be commanded in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant”. As a result, I’ve developed some aphorisms of my own to guide people looking for a job.

Don’t Get Eaten by the Bear

The story is told of a man and a woman walking through the forest when a bear bolted out of the bushes and started charging them. The woman immediately dropped down and started lacing on some running shoes. The man looked at her and said, “There’s no way you’re going to outrun that bear!” She said, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you.”

Frequently, people looking for a job perceive the company as their adversary. The reality, their competition are other people looking for the same job. You must convince decision makers that you 1) can do the job they want done, 2) will fit into their team, and 3) will deliver a good return on investments (ROI).

Don’t get eaten by the bear! All you have to do is convince the decision maker of those three issues better than the other people applying for that job.

Make Your Mistakes Where They Don’t Count

Looking for a job requires several skills that most people don’t use regularly when they are unemployed: doing due diligence, interviewing, completing online applications, writing resumes, negotiating salaries, among others. The lack of practice causes people to make mistakes until they have enough practice to perform the tasks well.

Unfortunately, most job seekers, when they lose their job, immediately contact the companies they want to work for the most. As a result, they make all their mistakes with those companies that matter the most.

This aphorism encourages you to practice with family, friends, former co-workers, and other companies first. Then, contact companies that do not meet your desired requirements. Make your mistakes where they don’t count.

Make Decision Makers Feel Wonderful

Your purpose in all interactions with companies and decision makers is to make them feel wonderful. Too many focus on themselves when entering into an interview that they neglect considering the needs and concerns of the person sitting across the desk–who has more to lose than the job seeker.

Instead of focusing on your self in interviews and applications, focus on making the decision maker feel wonderful. Let your smile, tone of voice, and demeanor calm the interviewer, rather than build tensions or anxiety. Let your answers calm their concerns about your ability to 1) do the job they want done, 2) fit into the team, and 3) provide a good ROI.

At the end of a long day of interviews, you want them to say “I don’t know what it is about <you>, but I just feel good about <you>”. The reason they feel good about you, you were the only focused on making them feel wonderful.

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