Finding a Job - Critical Answers
The first step in finding and keeping a good job involves a little soul searching. The best way to do this is to ask and answer a series of questions. These questions may seem remarkably simple, almost silly. But don't be mislead. They're of the utmost importance.
Before we begin with the questions, however, let's discuss the nature of the answers you must give. There are at least three reasons why the questions may be difficult to answer:
1) The answers you give must be your answers and your answers alone . . .
You must tease out and set aside the opinions and expectations of others. This does not mean that you shouldn't seek the advice of others. In fact, the advice of others can be very helpful, especially when you start for the first time to measure your functionality in absolute terms. But, you must remember that their advice represents their opinions. Their opinions may influence your thinking, but in the end the answers must be your very own. You must feel comfortable with your answers.
2) The answers you give should reflect your dreams, but not your pipe dreams . . .
If your answers are not consistent with your ambitions in life, these will not help you find and keep a job that you like. If a job does not challenge you in some way, it will be boring. If a job is boring, most people do not perform well. If you don't perform well, you won't be able to keep the job. By the same token, a job shouldn't set you up for failure. You must know or be in a position to learn (perhaps through on-the-job training) how to meet the challenges inherent in any job you consider.
3) The answers you give must take into account your tolerance for risk . . .
I've interviewed, hired and fired any number of Harvard and Stanford University hot-shot MBAs. They all say they want a job that gives them exposure to senior management. Their theory is that senior management will take note of their performance and this will lead to early promotions and a fast track career.
When I asked them if they're aware that this is a very risky strategy, they look at me askew. I explain that if they have exposure to senior management, not only their successes, but also their mistakes, will appear in high relief. Many were so self-inflated that they hadn't even considered this possibility. They had no contingency plans. I then asked them if they thought it would be wise for me to hire someone who hadn't even considered the downside risks of their investment of time and effort in a job.
There is something to be said for slower, but stable growth in a job or career, in learning from experience instead of betting everything on a single roll of the dice.
Next week we will begin with a series of questions for you to ask yourself as you consider any job.
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Please remember, this writing reflects my own experience and opinions. If you, or a loved one, are experiencing the symptoms of schizophrenia, or any other mental illness, you should seek professional assistance.