In his book, What Color is your Parachute, Richard Bolles sets out a range of different ways to find a job, ranging from ‘Sending out Resumes/CVs’ (least successful) to ‘Doing homework on yourself’ (most successful).
As he puts it, ‘you need to understand more fully who you are… the goal is to better understand who you are, what you have to offer to the job market, and what kind of job would match that’. My own career counsellor, John, concurred. Bolles reckons that, although it doesn’t sound like a job-hunting method, in fact 86 out of 100 job seekers who use this method find a job – compared with only a 7% success rate for mailing out CVs. This means that, if you take the time and effort to know thyself at the start of your job hunt, you have a 1200 per cent better chance of finding a job that if you just start sending out CVs and responding to adverts off the cuff.
Why is it so important? Partly because you learn to describe yourself in multiple ways and so can approach multiple job-markets – this is particularly useful for people trying to change careers. Secondly, by doing this homework on yourself, you can describe in more detail exactly what you are good at and what you are looking for, which can help your family, friends and contact network to come up with ideas and leads for you. Thirdly, if what have a clear vision of what you are both good at and enjoy (your ‘element’) then you can tackle the job hunt with redoubled clarity and enthusiasm. Thirdly, by doing your homework on what sort of job you would like to do, you can take matters into your own hands and, rather than waiting to read an advert for a job you like the sound of, you can actively start approaching companies that have the sort of job you might like. Finally, when you at last get a precious job interview, you will be able accurately to explain, in succinct detail, why you would like the job, and why you think you would be good at it – thereby gaining an edge over the other interviewees who didn’t do this research.
I cannot think of a better way of doing this than the method set out in Chapter 5 of Bolles’ book. So, if you’re really serious about finding a job, go out and buy it and take the time to do the exercises he sets out.
By the time you have finished that, you should be able to detail your transferable skills relating to:
- People: ie. Good at initiating, consulting, advising, motivating, assessing, coordinating, instructing, etc;
- Information: ie. Good at organising, classifying, working with numbers, solving problems, researching, etc; and
- Things: ie. Good at making, restoring, shaping, creating, operating, manipulating, repairing, etc.
You should also be able to rank all these skills in order of preference (which ones you like) and capability (which ones you are best at) – ie. ‘What I can do and what I love to do’.
Bolles also gets you to work out:
- Your favourite areas of knowledge and fields of interest;
- Your preferred kinds of people to work with;
- Your preferred places to live;
- Your preferred salary range and level of responsibility; and
- Your overall goal, mission or purpose in life (tough nut, that one!).
If you reckon this sounds like quite hard work – you’re right: it is!
But setting off on a job hunt without taking the time to do this initial research is like trying to find your way out of a pitch black, very large, locked room with no torch. If you are lucky, you might stumble upon a key in the dark and, if you do, you might manage to find the keyhole the key fits to unlock the exit. But you are a hell of a lot more likely to find your way out of that room quickly and in good health if you had a torch. Think of this research as furnishing you with a torch to illuminate the way out of unemployment. So……just do it!
Once you have done that, you can apply your newfound self-knowledge in Step Two – Pick a Job; any Job .