I’m sitting in the parking lot outside the Launch Workplaces www.launchworkplaces.com office building on Seven Locks Road (Rockville, MD location) trying to decide what to do next. It’s early Saturday morning, and I’m dressed for business: interview suit, new (tremendously stylish) pumps, contact cards in hand, resumes printed on blindingly white paper… now what?
What if? What if I’m the only one in the room? What if attendees already know each other and don’t talk to me? What if everyone is weird? What if everyone has it all together and I’m weird? I get out of the car and walk up the sidewalk. There’s no one around—I’m about to turn back.
Then I see the sign on the door—Welcome, and the meeting room at Launch Workplaces is inviting. The volunteers and attendees are professional, friendly, and I soon find out, know what they’re talking about.
So I try my hand at networking and pretend to be friendly (a challenge for me). I pretend that I know what I’m talking about (I don’t). I pretend I’m not panicky or ready to bolt. I listen carefully to the speaker and I learn.
That was then, and I’m glad I kept coming back. These are some of the things I learned:
- Defining your value to hiring managers and recruiters
- 81% of jobs are found through relationships
- Interviewing effectively
- Time management for job seekers
- The first five minutes of the job interview are make or break
- Finding a job is a sales process
- Why my job search is taking so long
- Negotiating your job offer (and everything else)
Before long, I started volunteering and continued to learn, learn, and learn.
The founder of Career-Confidence.org is Robert Brandau, and he is integral to the organization’s success. During my first meeting with Robert, his counsel was hard to hear. Emotions from my previous job situation were getting in the way of my job search. I was hurt, and it was showing in my words, my tone, even my posture. Not one to dance around the issue, Robert said plain and simple, “Get over it. Get over it. Get over it!” It wasn’t easy but it was what I needed to hear. Side note: as I talk with Career-Confidence.org attendees, I can spot the ones who have recently had a chat with Robert. They have the same look on their face that I did. It’s not common for someone to be so frank and direct. It’s even more uncommon for them to be compassionate and kind about it. Sometimes what’s helpful is not what’s easy. Robert has never shied away from saying what’s helpful.
One of the biggest challenges in my job search was the number of times I was ghosted. I would have a great conversation and then… nothing. I would have a great interview and then… nothing! Ghosting is unprofessional, unkind, lazy, and frankly, cowardly. It is also very common. As a motivated job seeker, I was thoroughly disheartened each time it happened to me. No matter how often I heard, “You don’t want to work with them anyway” or “If that’s how they treat you now, imagine how it will be when you know each other!” the sting still hurt.
At Career-Confidence.org, I did not learn any magic cure for ghosting. Rude as it is, ghosting isn’t going away. What I heard was, “Don’t look back, look forward. Stay focused. Keep pushing ahead. And if you need to cry it out, do it and move on.” In other circumstances staying focused on a goal seems to be a whole lot easier. When you’ve been treated badly and don’t feel like you’ve got much going for you, it can be downright painful.
A useful device for me is the concept of a solution space. I first heard the term from Kathy Murphy of Sterling Partners: The solution space is the mindset of embracing
- challenges—they can be overcome,
- goals—they can be met, and
- assurance—the universe does, in fact, need each of us.
In the solution space, I can tackle problems with tenacity and enthusiasm. Now that I am employed, I use the solution space concept with my team. It’s a great reminder to stay positive when despondency starts to pull us down. One of my team members has proposed that the solution space is trapezoidal. I can’t confirm that, but I can say that intentionally resetting my perspective gives me a much greater likelihood of success at whatever I’m attempting.
Some not so revolutionary insights I have accumulated from the career-confidence.org seminars and speakers:
- Ghosting is a fact of life. Get over it.
- Hiring managers who talk too much in an interview will probably not be that great at managing.
- If you have exhausted your network, it’s time to start expanding your network (actually it’s always time to expand your network, but people who are network-challenged like me need a push).
- Sometimes happy hour is the highest priority.
- Practice out loud what you want to say before you have to say it.
- Companies that require you to record an interview remotely, especially in video form, are not good companies to work for.
- It’s OK to make a mess as long as you clean it up.
- Some of the friendliest, most caring people I’ve met can be found at a Career-Confidence.org seminar or workshop.
- You can never make too many updates to your LinkedIn profile.
- Everyone has a different opinion about resumés. Don’t sweat it. With a few exceptions, your resumé will not land you a job anyway.
- Not all recruiters are created equal. It’s important to understand the role they play, and in many cases, help them see how the relationship can be mutually beneficial.
- You will never regret paying it forward.
I accepted a salaried position a few months ago. The serendipitous nature of the job search finally tipped in my favor—apologies for the mixed metaphor. The easy stuff (interview, business suit, tremendously stylish pumps, contact cards, resumés printed on blindingly white paper) didn’t even matter in the end. It was networking. Someone knew someone who knew me. It’s a story I had heard many times during my job search but didn’t imagine it would happen to me. Finding a new job took a little longer than I would have liked but I’m on the other side now. Career-Confidence.org preaches building a strong network of connections and relationships for a reason—It works!
By: Kathi Gagliano * Program Manager * Career-Confidence.org * Montgomery County, Maryland
© Career-Confidence.org 2020