We gave you The Ten Commandments of Networking.
We even gave you The Seven Deadly Sins of Networking.
And then we gave you The Ten Commandments of Job Search.
So now it’s time for the important follow up – The Seven Deadly Sins of Job Search…
We are not prophets.
Neither are we ninjas, gurus, life coaches or even “experts”.
We don’t claim to be, and we don’t want you to think we’re claiming to be, either.
But we’ve made enough mistakes…and seen enough people make those same mistakes, or worse ones, over the course of our careers…so listen well.
These seven deadly sins will keep you unemployed until the end of time if you’re not self-aware enough to avoid them.
DEADLY SIN I: Pride
The most obvious one is your ego. It’s time to check that at the door a bit.
You are not better, smarter, cooler, or more awesome than the person you’re talking to about finding a job. Doesn’t matter if it’s a friend, a former co-worker, a recruiter, a hiring director, or anyone else in the process – tone it down, Kanye. You’re asking them for help, not the other way around…and who wants to help an arrogant, condescending know-it-all?
The less obvious way, and usually most difficult one to overcome, is to admit you need help at all. We get it. It sucks to realize that you can’t do this on your own, but unless you’re going to start your own company right now at this very moment, immediately land customers and start paying yourself…you can’t. This is why we keep telling people over and over again how important it is to have a solid network that you can reach out to, and why you don’t burn bridges. It’s time to start looking through your contacts and reaching out to see what they can do for you.
You can probably skip calling the SysAdmin that you yelled at and belittled for six months until she quit. You might want to avoid the new place she’s working, too. Good luck with that.
DEADLY SIN II: Sloth
Again…we get it. You just got sucker punched in the gut and all you want to do is lay on the couch, eat some Cheetos, and maybe make a solid run at demolishing the contents of the beer fridge in the garage over the next week.
Too bad, ain’t nobody got time for that.
Like Commandment I says, you have a job.
And that job is to find a job.
We’re not unreasonable, heartless monsters though. You want to take a single day to get it all out of your system? Go for it. But that’s still a day that was wasted and not spent making contacts, having conversations and finding a new job.
DEADLY SIN III: Greed
One of the harsh realities of life that you’re going to have to rapidly come to grips with if you’re out of work and looking is that nobody cares what you used to make.
And let that sink in – used to make.
Because you’re not making that right now. Right now…right now you’re making zero dollars. $0. Or you might be making some small fraction of what you used to make because you’re collecting unemployment…but that’s still not what you used to make now, is it?
This is even true for people who are employed and starting to look around – what you’re currently making may well be irrelevant to everyone but you. I know plenty of people who are effectively trapped at their current job for no reason other than nobody else will ever…ever…pay them what they’re currently making.
You have to understand that the entire sum total of your experiences, skills and abilities…aren’t really all that different from a signed hockey jersey, or a velvet Elvis painting, or a plate with a Norman Rockwell scene screened onto it. You’re a collectible, and collectibles are only worth whatever someone is willing to pay for them. The laws of supply and demand apply, and this is why everyone is in sales, even you – it’s your job, and nobody else’s, to make sure that others recognize your value.
DEADLY SIN IV: Lust
Now is not the time to fall victim to an all-consuming passion for just one job.
It doesn’t matter how hot the job is.
It doesn’t matter how sexy the bonus structure can be.
Keep those thoughts about the benefits at bay, hound dog. Just because the pretty girl looks at you from across the room doesn’t mean she’s going to let you do anything more than buy her a drink and talk to her for a few minutes. Your mind may already have the deal sealed and the two of you living happily ever after…but she’s still looking around at other options.
You should be, too.
Until the analogous ring is on your finger – you’ve just met with Human Resources, signed the deal, and are filling out your W-4 forms…nothing is a done deal. Keep your options open, and don’t find yourself in a worse spot when the next drink offer comes along and you’re now looking at her back while she runs through the same line of what you’re starting to suspect is complete and total BS with someone new.
DEADLY SIN V: Gluttony
And while this may seem to contradict the advice we just gave you about Lust, it’s still very much on point…we’re just talking about different stages of the game.
It’s perfectly acceptable to play the field and explore your options…but eventually you’re going to need to pick one, cut the others loose, and settle down.
Well, you don’t have to, I guess. You can keep stringing everyone along at the same time until you wake up one day and realize that you’re completely alone…and who the hell wants that? And, well, you can always be an independent contractor with multiple engagements…as long as you’re being up front and honest with all of them. Nothing will cause more of a cataclysmic meltdown than one party thinking they’re in an exclusive relationship while the other thinks they’re still a free agent.
So if you’re lucky enough to get multiple job offers while looking, you’re probably going to have some decision making to do. You’re going to have to figure out which one best suits you for the long run (assuming that’s what you’re looking for, of course), and then politely cut things off with everyone else. But remember – don’t burn those bridges. It’s always possible that once you’re locked in…that other party might go nuts. You might rapidly realize you made a bad choice and so you need to pick up the phone and make the already awkward enough phone call that you made the wrong decision and would like a second chance.
DEADLY SIN VI: Envy
You will do yourself infinitely more harm than good if you sit around dwelling on why you’re sitting on the couch and the dolt in the next cube is still there at the office.
This isn’t a good time to get mad about your friend who seemingly has everything handed to him on a silver platter with little to no effort required on his part. In fact, now might be the perfect time to get to know that guy a little better to see if that charm can be put to good use on your behalf.
Pondering the career track of your friend who you got into the industry and now not only still has a job but is four steps beyond you career-wise isn’t going to do anything but churn up the bile in your stomach. Again – probably someone you should be reaching out to right now.
Feeling a little envious of someone? Turn that into a compliment over the course of your chat with them – as the saying goes, flattery will get you everywhere.
DEADLY SIN VII: Wrath
This one burns more people than you will ever realize…which makes it the perfect wrap up.
It doesn’t matter how badly your last company screwed you over.
It doesn’t matter how many lies you were told, how angry you are about it, and how much you want to scream it out at the top of your lungs.
You do not do that. Ever. Not on Facebook, not on LinkedIn, not on your blog…nowhere.
Because nobody likes an angry person…and especially as you’re sitting in an interview and you get asked the inevitable “And why aren’t you at [x company] any more” question…you keep it mellow.
It was no longer a compatible environment for your career goals. Objectives had shifted, and no longer aligned with what you were originally brought in to do. You come up with a reasonable base foundation for you no longer being there. Don’t lie or anything – if you were let go, you were let go. If you quit, you quit. But you won’t do yourself any favors by getting into the long, drawn out saga of negativity.
Do yourself…and everyone else…a favor. Keep the venom to yourself, and learn how to channel that anger into the productive ball of fire inside you that encourages you to prove those dolts wrong. That you will make something of yourself. That you are damned talented. That you should be a valued asset.
That you can be and do all of those things…and be happy.
Because the best revenge is living happily and well.
That’s all for this time. Go read something else.