Job hunting can be one of the most soul-destroying, confidence-zapping processes to go through. If you’re currently without work or stuck in a job you hate, then I’m sure you know how depressing the whole job-hunting process can feel.
You troll the internet for job vacancies, then try to mold your cover letter to express a (perhaps inauthentic) desire for the job and then wait seemingly forever for a confirmation email or response that sometimes never comes. The trouble in this situation is that you give all your power over to a process that you have absolutely no control over, and get yourself into a downward spiral of low self-confidence and negativity pretty quickly.
This week I learned of a staggering statistic in Dave Evans & Bill Burnett’s wonderful book Designing Your Life: Build a Life That Works For You:
Only one in five jobs are actually posted in job search engines or anywhere on the internet. This means that four out of five jobs are not advertised – anywhere. No wonder so many people feel frustrated and rejected when job seeking.
If only one in five jobs are advertised, where are the other four out of five jobs? Evans & Burnett call it the Hidden Job Market, which they describe as “the job market that’s only open to people who are already connected into the web of professional relationships in which that job resides. This is an insider’s game, and it’s almost impossible to get inside that web as a job seeker.”
So how do you become one of the ‘insiders’ when you’re on the outside? Accessing the hidden job market all comes down to one thing – networking. In a recent LinkedIn study, it was shown that 85% of all jobs are filled via networking . ‘Networking’ is a word that makes some people cringe while conjuring up images of making small talk with potentially helpful strangers or approaching people cold turkey with a business card. But it doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) be that way. The whole process of networking to access the hidden job market can be turned into a very pleasant and enjoyable – and extremely productive – process, through a technique that Evans & Burnett describe as Life Design Interviews.
In the Life Design Process, you first figure out what your dream career path would be – don’t settle for anything less.
Figuring out your dream career can be a challenging task in itself and it’s important that you first take the time to get clear on what that might look like. If you need help with this, be sure to get your FREE copy of my E-Book PATHFINDING: How to find and start living your unique calling.
Once you’re clear on what you want, you then invite someone who is already connected into your desired field to have a conversation with you about what it’s like to work in that field or job.
You approach the conversation with a mindset of curiosity and interest and with the intention to find out whether this kind of work really is something you desire yourself.
People are generally very happy to be interviewed to talk about themselves and their work, especially when they know that the intention is to seek information, not to request or apply for a job. Evans & Burnett state that you must approach the conversation “as a sincerely interested inquirer – someone looking just for the story (not looking for the job). That’s how this works.”
There’s something magical that happens when you move from a place of desperation and neediness into a place of open-minded curiosity and non-attachment.
There’s a shift in your energy and you open up the conversation to an authentic connection and conversation, as opposed to an attempt to coerce the other person into giving you something you need. People are very good at picking up on ‘needy’ energy and it’s repelling. Curiosity, on the other hand, is inviting and appealing.
There are two great outcomes of this approach:
1) You find out first-hand whether this profession really is what you think it might be and whether it’s something you really do want to commit your time, effort and resources to, and;
2) You establish a connection with an insider in that field. You are networking in a completely organic and non-forced manner, bringing you closer to accessing the hidden job market.
The more people you interview, the more information and insight you learn and the more connections you make. Evans & Burnett describe how one of their clients, Kurt, started off as a job-seeker. He submitted thirty-eight job applications, along with his impressive resume and thirty-eight individual crafted cover letters. Out of all his applications, he received terse rejection emails from eight companies and never heard back from the other thirty. “No interviews, no offers, no follow-up calls.” Needless to say, he became disheartened and dejected. After learning of the Life Design Interview process, Kurt then identified people he could talk to and went out and conducted 56 life design interviews in different companies and organisations related to his dream field. During that process, he established a wide web of authentic connections and in the end, was offered seven wonderful job offers and had to spend significant time considering which one was the best fit for him.
He turned his situation of desperation into one of being connected and in-demand. This is how the Life Design Process works.
To get unstuck in your current career crisis, it’s crucial that you shift yourself out of a powerless, dependent-on-others mindset into an empowered, proactive and non-attached mindset. This shift in itself will create several positive benefits you hadn’t anticipated. Take back your power and rather than wait for the next best thing to come along, get busy deciding what you want and figuring out how to create it. Burnett & Evans describe five Life Design Principles that are essential to accompany your Life Design Interviews.
Life Design Principles
1. Be Curious
There is something interesting about everything. Endless curiosity is key to a well-designed life. Which fields interest you and what would you like to know about them? Which kinds of people could you talk to to find out more information? What do experts in this field argue about and why? What are the key issues people in this field deal with? What are the problems/issues/challenges that keep these people up at night and are these issues you are passionate about too? “Endless curiosity equals increasing knowledge, options and clarity about your life direction.”
2. Try Stuff
When you shift into a mode of bias-toward-action you stop being stuck. There is no more analysing, worrying, pondering, or solving your way through life. Evans & Burnett talk regularly about “building your way” into your dream job. Keep figuring out the next action to take and do it. Who can you talk to next? What is something you could do to find out more about a certain field? What can you read or learn to find out more about a particular idea you have? Are there any courses or self-study modules you could follow to learn more and upskill yourself?
3. Reframe Problems
Reframing is a change in perspective, viewing something from a different angle and changing the meaning around it. For example, a dysfunctional belief could be “I’m too old and it’s too late to find my dream job”. A reframe would be “It’s never too late to design a life you love and I have the power to create anything I desire.”
Ask yourself “What perspective do I actually have in this situation?” and if there is a way to change it for your own benefit and empowerment. We have the power to reframe any situation and substitute a limiting belief with a resourceful one. We get to choose and design our own life.
4. Know That It’s a Process
Knowing that building your dream career is a process means you don’t get frustrated or lost and don’t ever give up.
5. Ask For Help
We’re not meant to walk this path alone. Our success depends on building networks of support and collaboration. Find yourself a mentor (or several) and join groups or networks of like-minded people with similar aspirations. Facebook Groups is an amazing resource for people looking to link in with groups of people on a similar path. As Jeffrey Davis always says “Doing it Together (DIT) beats Doing it Yourself (DIY)”.
So get yourself unstuck by brainstorming who you could conduct some Life Design Interviews with and get out there and start actively and intentionally building the career you desire. You are in charge of your life and your destiny and only you have the power to build the life you want.
And good luck dear friend, please let me know how you go in the comments below!
Katie De Jong, Ph.D
Global Career Coach for Thriving Professionals
Inspired Careers International