Sunday, April 24, 2011

Making Your Own Luck

As you might guess having been part of ExecuNet for 23 years during which time there have been at least three recessions and given the depth of the most recent one, we could probably say four and not get too much of an argument, I have talked with thousands of executives about more career related issues than I can remember.

Given the economic turmoil of recent times, it isn't surprising that many of the conversations have revolved around the frustrations associated with making a job change, and especially trying to make that change when the unemployment rate is getting better but is still where none of us likes to see it, and the recovery isn't going fast enough. 

Then, of course, many add to that minor administrative details such as having kids in college, a mortgage to pay, and being on the other side of 45 and getting tired of hearing that they are "over qualified" if and when they hear anything at all which isn't often and which just adds to the frustration.

Since most of our members come to us by referral, it is also not unusual that by the time they "find" ExecuNet they have been travelling around the career changing universe long enough to be almost deaf from all the noise.

With that as the backdrop, when we talk to prospective members one of the first things we often hear is that they say they have tried about every job board known to man, and to use their words "haven't had any luck" to which I will then often ask: "What do you mean by luck?"  The answers vary, but can be pretty well summarized by the fact that they have sent out hundreds if not thousands of resumes and have gotten very few if any phone calls and/or interviews much less even acknowledgment that they responded in the first place.

It is at that point that I often will ask them if they have ever heard this definition of luck?

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunituy.

Most say they have, as have I. I even tried to find out where it came from at one point and at least for now the consensus seems to attribute it to the Roman philosopher Senecaand am happy to give him the credit.  Indeed, if this was one of his "keepers" then we owe him a real debt of thanks because it puts something very important into perspective, at least in terms of the frustration I am talking about here.

So what's the point?  Just this:

When we're trying to help many of the executives we talk with to understand the why of "no luck" it usually comes down to the person admitting that their "preparation" to date was pretty much focused on responding to online postings, even though they were generally aware that most job changes don't come about via job postings in general and is even more the case at senior levels. 

Indeed, in our 19th Executive Job Market  Intelligence Report which was just released, many are surprised to learn that 92% of the openings at $200,000 and up are not posted at all!

All of which is to try and help the person understand that if they really want to have "luck" come their way in this process they have to invest the time, research, and energy to prepare themselves to take advantage an opportunity when it surfaces.  And this is the real reason why when I explain that we are a private career and business network and not a job board per se but rather a community where we invest the time and effort to provide the member not just with the "whats" of  "preparation" but as or more importantly with the ways and means to implement the "hows" things begin to make more sense.   

Clicking and praying is easy, but not particularly productive for most.

Quiet and determined preparation may sound harder, but when you are part of a professional environment with the committment to showing you "how" it beats noise every time.

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