Job Seeker Surprise: How Being Ignorant Can HELP You

by O'Donnell, J.T. Wednesday, August 26, 2009
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I just spent the last 3 days co-chairing my first charity event. It was part of a large triathlon called Timberman with more than 2500 athletes in attendance. Over the course of the weekend, 85 amazing individuals competed in races that ravaged their bodies as they swam, biked and ran for hours on end for charity. These heroic triathletes helped us raise $50,000 - all of which is going directly towards granting the wishes of sick children. Candidly, I am still in complete awe of the entire experience. I lost my voice cheering and can’t talk about it much anyways, because I get very emotional when I think of the lives that are going to be positively affected by the money raised.

Now, I’ve never run an event of this type before. In fact, to be perfectly honest, my co-chair and I went into this blind. We had no event to model it after and not a lot of resources to guide us on what to do or how to do it. We also didn’t have any money to spend on it either. It was 3 months of just figuring it out as we went along. So, as I drove home and pondered how everything came together and the event turned out to be a success, I realized this: Sometimes it’s better not to know what you are doing. Why? You act differently when you’re ignorant to what you’re up against.

You see, while talking to some folks at the event who have run fundraisers before, we learned raising money for charities in this fashion, especially in this economy, is considered a bit of a challenge. And looking back, yes, it was a huge task that took a lot of time and energy, but, it never felt impossible.

How does this apply to job search, you ask?

In this economy, many people start looking for work absolutely certain it’s going to be an uncomfortable process that will seek dismal results. And why wouldn’t they? The facts being presented make it easy to believe it’s next to impossible to land a job right now. I understand it makes sense for job seekers to be realistic about the situation, AND YET, we also shouldn’t overlook that people are landing jobs. In fact, there are millions of jobs currently open. So, if you want to land a job, it occurred to me that perhaps acting like you don’t know it’s tough to do could work to your advantage. Looking at my own experience with this fundraiser, here’s a list of things to keep in mind so you can act blissfully unware of the current challenges when seeking employment:

#1 - There are people who want to help you, you just have to let them know you exist (multiple times). We sent our our first e-mail asking racers to raise money and got 17 people to sign up. A couple weeks later, we sent out another request to the same list of people and got 22 more. A third e-mail resulted in an additional 26. Then, a final request to those who signed up asking them to refer a friend resulted in our final 20.

TAKE-AWAY: It pays to touch base with people repeatedly. While finding a job may be your main priority, helping you find one isn’t theirs. So, contacting them politely but repeatedly can get results.

#2 - Be a F.A.N. of all those who take the time to connect with you personally or helps you in any way. F.A.N. stands for Flexible, Appreciative, and Nice. As people e-mailed us with questions and concerns, we jumped at the chance to treat them well by communicating we were willing and able to do whatever it took to make them feel good about their decision to be a part of this fundraiser. We also repeatedly thanked anyone who helped us. We wanted to make sure they knew we were very, very grateful for their support and that the event wouldn’t be a success without them - which was easy to say because it was the truth!

TAKE-AWAY: If someone, ANYONE takes the time to talk to you about your job search, thank them. Even if you don’t like their advice or suggestions, it’s important to make them feel like you listened and are grateful for their willingness to help you. In this day and age, getting help from others deserves the highest praise.

#3 - With any setback, acknowledge the error - and then look for the upside. We encountered a lot of SNAFUs as we planned this event. We’d be rich if we had a nickel for every time one of us said, “Hmmm, guess we should have done that differently,” or “Gee, didn’t see that coming.” But, instead of getting frustrated, we just looked for a solution and moved on. There just wasn’t any time to get discouraged or complain.

TAKE-AWAY: Job search is like hitting home runs, you’re going to strike out a lot in your effort to hit the big one. Besides, there is no such thing as failure; just opportunities to learn and grow. Accept what happens and move on.

#4 - Celebrate every little victory. My co-chair and I would get excited about the littlest accomplishment. We’d send each other high-five’s and cheer each other on. That enthusiasm would inspire us on to each new task.

TAKE-AWAY: Talk about your progress, no matter how small. It’s important to stay positive because it affects your approach to job search and your ability to persuade others that you are a good hire.

#5 - And finally, just BELIEVE. I know it sounds silly, but my co-chair and I would end our e-mail exchanges with each other almost every time with something like, “We’re gonna do this,” or “This is going to be awesome.” And while we were cautiously optimistic, deep down, we both felt we could make it happen. There was never any discussion about giving up. There were never any excuses as to why it would be okay if we didn’t succeed. We just kept focusing on doing our best so we could be proud of the end result, no matter what it was.

TAKE-AWAY: Believe in yourself. You will find a job. You will move forward. One way or another, you will succeed, but only if you don’t give up!

I hope this list inspires you to forget all the negatives you know about job search and gets you to say, “She’s right, I can do this.” Why? Because you can.