Tuesday, August 03, 2010
So Many Questions - So Few Answers
While there are literally dozens of issues where job changers look for answers such as on: resumes (functional vs. chronological), interviewing (what are the best ways to deal with questions that feel like they have no good answers), networking (how do you build one, keep it, expand it?), salary negotiation (when asked about compensation, what's the right answer?), age discrimination (how do you fight it?), follow-up (what's too little or too much?), changing industries (how is it done?) And the list goes on.
Unhappily, ginning up the list is easy. Knowing what to do next, however, is definitely a different issue.
All you have to do is go to your local bookstore (remember those?) or cruise around Amazon and check out the number of books available on career management to see what I mean.
The mere fact that there are literally thousands of books and probably tens of thousands of articles is enough to provide a clue that while most of us want "answers" the fact is that in the real world you get "opinions" and in most cases that will have to do.
To be sure, this fact is a source of no little frustration for many, especially senior level executives whose DNA is almost always type "A" and whose attention spans are measured in nanoseconds.
As I talk with ExecuNet members I certainly hear the frustration and once past the rants irrespective of subject, the question I get asked a lot is what, if anything, can I do about this stuff?
My short answer is it depends on your approach to problem solving.
My longer answer (i.e. suggestion) is to ask people to put on their business problem solving hat and focus on dealing with a job search as a business challenge because in essence that's what it is.
You are the product and your job as GM is to overcome the market hurdles for the product. That said, however, no one is asking you to fight through all this alone (that's why you have staff) and in terms of their membership, we are their staff.
Looking at it in this light, as GM, what would you do? Answer: You would do an analysis of the situation including sorting out the things over which you have no control and focus on the things you can control.
In terms of looking for a job, among other things, this would mean market research, product development, sales training, a product launch plan, monitoring the results and adjusting as needed.
It also would mean setting the appropriate expectations so as to help manage the inevitable "foul balls" and inherent impatience referred to above.
Alan Lakein is often given credit for the "Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail" line. I am not sure who said it first, but whoever did they were, as the Brits say, spot on and if ever there was a situation to which this statement applies, it is job changing.
Yet, so much of the frustration that people feel is driven by the understandable pressure that comes from the product being themselves and the fact that the product's entry into the market place is self-funded.
Patience is a lot easier when it's not your money supporting the enterprise.
Understood, but my point is that if you succumb to the pressure to act before you really have a plan to manage (read: click and pray), you are going to find yourself even more frustrated when your customer is not responding because they really don't understand what you are selling, why they need it and certainly don't have the time to find out.