Turbo Charge Your Job Search

By Flood, Barbara | Information Outlook, May 2007 | Go to article overview

Turbo Charge Your Job Search


Flood, Barbara, Information Outlook


In his book, Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life, Irwin Kula reminds us that the questions of life are meant only to generate more and more inquiry. He says,

"There are never final answers to life's big questions; only more profound questions.... We long for a comfortable landing place, the contentment of completion ... we all maintain beliefs we consider self- evident: ideas and unquestioned presumptions that surface when the going gets tough, when we feel challenged or most vulnerable."

Any job search is a time when we feel challenged or vulnerable. It is the nature of the beast. Whether you are just coming out of school with a frightening and challenging debt knowing that the job is the first step to some degree of freedom; or wanting to move out of a position that you have come to know all too well into a situation of more leadership or opportunity, the job search is inherently uncomfortable. We are creatures of habit and taking this step will mean stepping out of our comfort zone.

Whatever motivates you, the process remains one of inquiry about who you are and the presumptions you have made about the world of employment. As Kula says, we all maintain beliefs that we consider self-evident; like how to approach the job market, what our personal skills and strengths are, and what we would identify as our "weaknesses."

I remember how delighted I was when I arrived in India ready to offer what I saw as my greatest skills as a volunteer to an international foundation. I had spent years developing successful programs and seminars. I had been a clinician for years and was good with people. Surely they would want me to oversee some program or department where I could demonstrate my talents.

Imagine my shock when I was introduced to my position. I was asked to be an office manager of a department that, in my opinion, was not working very well. I set about arranging and organizing the office, throwing out old, outdated files, and updating systems to provide an efficient response to the requests that came to the department. It was not until I had been doing this for several months that someone came to me and commented on how great the office looked, how smoothly it was now running and what an impact my ability to organize had made on the department. In that moment I thought, "Doesn't everyone know how to organize an office?"

I then realized that I had never identified the skill I held so naturally; the skill of organization. Clearly I had a belief that was "self-evident." I believed that everyone knew how to organize an office, a desk, a home ... whatever needed to be organized. And I was wrong! I began to see how these skills had been the foundation of all my professional success. They were the reason why I was a good leader, a good manager, a good clinician. These skills and talents came so naturally that I missed seeing them as part of my contribution.

Much later I discovered the benefits of hiring a professional coach. I learned that it is the coach's responsibility to encourage us to engage fully in the process of self-inquiry in order to identify our skills and talents. She or he becomes our champion and our mirror, providing us hope and clarity, and reminding us again and again to see the truth about who we are and what we want in our lives. A professional coach can help us clearly identify our goals and create the map we need to follow in order to achieve those goals.

Asking Questions

A coach may ask questions like, "What work environment is best for you? What kind of job would most suit your interests? What are your goals, not just for your career but also for your life?"

Building on your strengths is the most effective first step in the process of exploring and answering these questions. There are a variety of assessment tools that can support this inquiry; the Meyers-Briggs Personality Inventory, People Map System, to name a few. …

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