how to change careers

“In all things, patience is the key to victory. Those who cannot endure, cannot hope to win. Ultimate triumph belongs to those who can forebear.”

These words of wisdom from Daisaku Ikeda, President of an international Buddhist organization, apply to many things in life, but are particularly relevant when it comes to bringing your job search to a successful conclusion.

I frequently receive calls from individuals who have struggled for months in a job search where nothing they’ve tried is producing results. If I dig beneath the surface, I usually find they’ve been “patient” in terms of countless hours filling out applications the same old way hoping that alone will lead a job.

When I check how many resumes have been sent out, I’ll usually hear a number between 15 and 30, which has led to three or fewer interviews – not unusual for many industries in Oregon and the Northwest.

The key to a happy and efficient conclusion to your job search, lies in your willingness to put together, and use, a plan and tools that get you in front of as many decision makers as possible. It takes patience to find them, forbearance to not take things personally when decision makers seem lukewarm when talking with you, and the endurance to keep up your efforts to make connections that will lead to a forthcoming job offer, even if you’ve faced with more than a few closed doors.

When clients are struggling to get results even with the best tools and say they “need” to try something else, I’ll often inquire about the amount of time they’ve spent trying new methods, such as:

  • Initiating contact with decision makers at companies where jobs haven’t been announced
  • Taking concrete steps to get known by prospective supervisors and strategically networking

I’m sad to report those clients who struggle the most have scarcely given new approaches a fraction of the time they did responding to Craigslist ads and filling out applications.  I know it is scary to put yourself out there. I encourage them to commit to trying the new approaches on a regular and consistent basis. They will see the results. Don’t give up after hearing “not hiring now” a few times. Use that “no” to propel you to keep knocking until your next employer opens the door.

As you can imagine, one of my “occupational hazards” is being asked whether or not I think industry or field “X” is a good one to go into – based on its potential for future job openings. Since I am neither a database on occupational outlook nor fortune teller, my answer is almost always the same: “Your success (and happiness) depends a lot more on what you do with yourself in your career search, than on any statistics I could cite.”

It’s really true. A job is offered when you demonstrate to a prospective employer you will bring much more benefit to the organization than it costs to on-board and train you. The key is for you to let as many prospective employers as possible know what you have to offer, so that truth can be recognized. Careers are built out of learning what you have to contribute in ways that are meaningful to you, while producing tangible value for employers…AND learning how to communicate what you do and what you can accomplish really does matter.

Showing how committed you are is more than half the battle. Our 16th President – Abraham Lincoln – provided essential guidance in this regard. He gave timeless advice in his closing sentence of a “rejection” letter he sent to a young Law scholar who sought to be under his supervision as a legal intern. With his own legal and political career quickly taking off, an overly busy Abraham Lincoln responded to Isham Reavis by advising him to study Law with diligence on his own, seek out other mentors, be patient, and trust his own skills and intelligence to learn Law and become a successful professional in it.

Isham didn’t give up after receiving Lincoln’s, “Sorry.” Instead he took Mr. Lincoln’s advice and established a successful Law career that eventually led to his tenure as a Justice on Arizona’s Supreme Court.

Because there are certain things I am committed to learning and accomplishing this year – no matter what obstacles I may face – I have decided to adopt President Lincoln’s quote as my affirmation.

“Always bear in mind that your resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.”

It takes resolve and commitment to realize a vision.

What is a dream or goal you want to accomplish for your life or in your career?

  1. Write it down in as clear a language as possible – painting a picture of what it looks and feels like.
  2. Look at that goal every day.
  3. Identify one thing, one step you can take every day to realize that dream or goal.
  4. Take the action – do it!
Contact Doug for help with your career change!