Thursday 31 May 2012 at 5:46 pm
Searching for a job or career opportunity can be overwhelming and intimidating. There is so much to do that sometimes you rush certain aspects of job search only to find out that if you had taken the time to get advice on how to write a resume, cover letter, network, conduct research on target companies, use social media, prepare for an interview, and follow up you might have landed one of the jobs that came your way when you first began searching. Now, you feel like you have to start over but where to begin. You are frozen in time and you need to break free so my advice to you is to do the thing you fear.
Immediately after college graduation I had some job interviews but nothing I wanted to accept so I took a position for the summer as a direct selling associate (otherwise known as a door to door salesperson). It was an opportunity to make some money and gain confidence. The company was Southwestern Publishing Company out of Nashville Tennessee. My sales territory was rural Kentucky, nothing wrong with that, great people but I lasted two weeks. To be a successful door to door salesperson you need to get into the potential customers home. After attending a week of sales training I had mastered the art of getting invited into a person's house.
First, you knock on the door. Then you greet the person who answers with a statement that is disarming. My opening line was "I'm just another pesky salesman you don't shoot them do you?" real ow what you are thinking this line would never work in the Northeast where I am from. I then hesitated and started wiping my feet signaling I was ready to enter. On my first day I entered 29 out of 30 homes. That's the good news the bad news is I did not sell anything.
No problem we were told in sales training that if we kept getting into houses the law of averages would take over and we would make sales. I sold nothing the second day and I found walking up to the next door got harder and harder to where eventually I did not get out of the car. I sat there paralyzed with fear. Our sales training had prepared us for this as well. We were to "do the thing you fear and that will be the end of fear." Great advice and they were right. Except, I had overcome my fear of meeting strangers and this was a new fear. The fear of not selling anything. You see, the law of averages is a belief that something will occur, not a mathematical probability that it will. If you flip a coin there is a 50% chance that it will land on heads or tails regardless of the result of the previous flip. It did not take me long to rationalize that door to door sales were not for me. I bailed but not without learning a valuable lesson.
I would continue to experience circumstances and situations in life that would produce fear. Some of those circumstances like impending danger you need to heed. However, when fear threatens to limit your personal or professional growth you need to do the thing you fear and that will be the end of it. If that means rewriting your resume, attending more networking events, targeting more companies, learning to use social media, preparing for another job interview then so be it. The law of averages may not be a mathematical probability but there is more likelihood you will land a job if you continue your job search activities then if you stop or short circuit them.
Saturday 26 May 2012 at 1:40 pm
You finally landed your dream job, now what? Enjoy it while it lasts, because there is a 25% likelihood you will leave within one year and another 33% possibility that you will not meet productivity targets. According to the 2012 Allied Workforce Mobility Survey the odds of your employer retaining you are less than 50%. However, before you start looking for your next job there are actions you can take to help your employer retain you. After all this is your dream job.
According to the survey there are three reasons that new hires leave within their first year. They are management relationships, job performance and lack of career advancement. Let's deal with them one at a time.
1. What can you do about management relationships? Someone recently said "people don't leave their job they leave their supervisor." Apparently, it's true. I had a boss early in my career. Let's call him Ebenezer Scrooge (not his real name). He was caustic, acerbic and downright rude and he liked me! Others would argue and confront. None of it changed his behavior. This may seem like a hostile work environment but it wasn't. I am not suggesting you tolerate abuse. I did not. The real Scrooge was transformed but not here. I persevered and learned not to take his comments personal but it was hard at times. We all have examples of friends and family who behave like Ebenezer Scrooge. You don't condone it and you may even try to avoid them but if you can't you learn to cope. I worked for my Ebenezer for 3 years and learned enough to get a great promotion. That would not have happened if I had opted out. You might be interested to know there are over 400 to 600 coping strategies.
2. What can you do about job performance? Fortunately most bosses are not an Ebenezer. But, the majority will throw you into the deep end of the pool and watch you sink or swim. You may accept this but it is not the best way to learn to swim. Before you get thrown in there is an important question to ask during the interview process. "What is your onboarding process?" Get as much detail as possible about who conducts it, what is the content, what am I expected to deliver in the next 30, 90 days, 180 days? Will there be opportunity for training? Will you be assigned a sponsor? You see most organizations with less than 10,000 employees do not provide training, mentors/sponsors or performance goals. This is what 500 HR professionals said in the above survey. So by asking what is your onboarding process you are confirming what you already know or suspect. This gives you an opportunity to identify what additional information you need to know prior to starting and to make suggestions on performance goals. If you can get agreement you are much more likely to succeed. If you cannot get agreement then maybe this is not your dream job or the only way you will succeed will be in your dreams.
3. What about career advancement? If you are not sure ask "assuming I do a great job will there be opportunity for me to advance at the appropriate time?" This is one area where there should be no confusion. However, this is still one of the top reasons people leave so something must be wrong. Either there were no opportunities to advance or the opportunity to advance does not come soon enough. Don't accept a job that does not have opportunity for advancement and where there are opportunities be realistic about the timeline for achieving them.
These are the reasons you will leave your employer if not in the first year then perhaps in less than five years. So your retention rides on your ability to help your employer overcome these problem areas. You see most employers don't know you are unhappy.