We each spend a good deal of time in our respective life journeys simply seeking. We seek jobs. We seek love. We seek comfort, convenience, compassion, and culture. We seek happiness, contentment, and success.
Some of us are better at finding what we seek than are others. Why? What is the secret?
Jobs & Love: Filling the Void
When I write on the topic of finding employment, I often compare it to the world of dating. It’s an easy comparison. In both instances, one is trying to fill a void for an essential component of the human experience: We all need income, and we all need companionship (well, most of us do; there are rare exceptions hidden in the rocks).
For those of you who are happily married or otherwise not single or not searching, I apologize for my frequent use of the dating / job-seeking comparison. But, because it IS a good one, we’ll stay on this train just a bit longer:
Let’s take a closer look at the similarities and perhaps learn how to improve our rate of success with both!
Technology: The Easy Way
When it comes to finding a job or a date, people flock to websites. It’s the way it is done now that we each have computers, Blackberries, and notebooks. There’s no getting away from it; it’s here to stay.
But, are you placing too much emphasis on the new way of doing things? Are you relying too much on technology?
Sites like eHarmony and Match dot com boast high success rates. Create a profile, do some online flirting, meet for a date, and you’ll find the love of your life. Grand! But the fact is, in spite of the undeniable success for many people, MOST people do NOT find the love of their lives online. In fact, only 1 in 5, on average, meets his mate from a dating or social networking site.
1 in 5, people! That’s 2 in 10; 20 in a 100; 200 in a 1000. What about the remaining 800 people?
Where do the other 4 out of 5 find the companion with whom they choose to build a relationship? Off line.
When you step away from the computer and venture into the physical world, you just may end up meeting the love of your life the way MOST people meet a future partner — at places like: Parks, Restaurants, Grocery stores, Bumper-to-bumper traffic, Church, Parties, Clubs, Doctor’s offices, Salons, Gyms, Tanning spas, Concerts, and so-on.
If the real world is proven to be the most successful “spot” for meeting your mate, why do so many rely on the keyboard? Why do so few step outside of the relative security of their homes and actually do what it takes to fill the void?
The answer, I believe, is that most of us are generally lazy. It’s EASY to hide behind a computer monitor. It’s EASY to pretend that we are actually narrowing our choices and eliminating the bad seeds from the dating pool by scanning hundreds of dating profiles.
Easy is easy, but success is seldom ever born from it.
Effort & Its Effect
Putting yourself “out there” in the real world takes an effort. You have to put time and attention into your appearance, for starters. Sitting in a robe, unshaven or hair disheveled, won’t cut it.
Obviously, the extra effort involved in looking your best is not nearly as easy as not doing it. But there’s a significant benefit inherent in going through the process of looking good: It makes you feel good, as well. The better you look, the better you feel. The better you feel, the better you present yourself and are received by others.
Feeling good about your appearance as a result of making the effort to look your best directly increases your chances of success. It’s not because “pretty people win.” It’s because people who feel pretty (or handsome) exude confidence in a way that simply doesn’t otherwise occur. It’s the nature of being human, and we’re all subject to it.
Of course, there’s more to it than a good-looking pair of shoes and a sweet haircut. Once you’re step out from behind the computer looking your best, you are required to actually engage with other human beings!
Imagine the scenario: There is a sound emanating from your mouth. You vaguely recall that this is your voice — the external, audible voice, not the voice in your head that you otherwise spend so much time hearing. Amazingly, that voice is speaking to someone, using full sentences! And your eyes are looking into the eyes of another human being. You’re not on Skype; it’s a clear view of those windows to the soul! Simultaneously, you realize that you are reading the body language and facial expressions of this living, breathing person in front of you.
It’s, like, frickin’ wild! Who knew that human contact could be so stimulating, given the amazing advances of computer technology? Why didn’t someone tell you sooner how much you’d enjoy life “out there” after living behind a computer for so long?
There is no substitute for it. One-on-one human interaction just can’t be beat when it comes to gauging whether there is chemistry between two people. That chemistry simply cannot be measured online! And without the right chemistry, you’re not going to land the (wo)man or the job.
A Few Scenarios to Consider
Let’s say that you are enjoying a ridiculously priced cup of Joe with a friend, sitting quietly but comfortably at a coffee bar. In walks a gorgeous specimen of a (wo)man, and you momentarily lose your brain cells. If you were at home, online, looking at this person’s picture, it would take very little effort to click on a “wink” button or to send a smiley emoticon, right? But, really: How many lasting relationships has that little wink created in your life?
In our little scenario, though, you are not at home. You’re in the coffee shop — and it takes physical and emotional effort to get up off your arse and find a way to meet the person who may be THE void-filler! It takes courage. It takes diplomacy. You have to pull together everything there is about you and, in a split second, capture the attention of this good lookin’ stranger. Maybe it’s just a smile with unrelenting eye-contact. Or perhaps you simply say, “Hi. I’m Lynda.” But whatever method you employ as an ice-breaker, it requires an effort.
If you DO manage to break the ice, get a name and number, you then have to follow-up. That, too, takes an effort. And when you meet for an actual date, you begin the process of getting to know one another. By the end of the date, you’ll know whether a second date is warranted, and so on. Right?
Finding a Job
Let’s now compare these principles to finding a job.
It takes very little effort to sit behind your keyboard and scroll the billions of job boards in search of that perfect employment opportunity. You don’t have to shave, put on makeup and heels, or even brush your teeth. You don’t have to speak to anyone. Very little is required of you.
Easy is easy, but success is seldom ever born from it.
Putting yourself “out there,” on the other hand, takes work. It takes courage. It takes diplomacy, skill, and forethought.
You can send an email to a prospective Hiring Authority, attach a beautifully prepared resume’ and your best letter of recommendation — but if you don’t get out from behind the keyboard and actively DO something to engage with that person, you are lessening your chance of success.
By picking up the phone and inviting that person to meet for a cup of coffee, on the other hand, you dramatically increase your chance of landing a job. By stopping by corporate headquarters, unannounced, leaving a printed resume’ with the receptionist, and then actually making an appointment for a sit-down meeting, you’re now miles ahead of the next best candidate who is still sitting behind his keyboard.
The Issue of Courage
As I’ve mentioned, it takes courage — in love and in employment — to put yourself out there in the real world. You will be judged. You will be rejected. And it is knowing that judgment and rejection will occur that keeps most of us from doing the one thing we most need to do: Jump in feet first without a life-saver.
Consider the Statement You Make
Look at this from the perspective of a future mate or a future employer: How does that person perceive you? What statement are you making by your choice in approach?
When you are behind a computer screen, the other person does not “see” you; he can only make assumptions, and those will usually be wrong. He cannot hear your tone of voice. He cannot draw a reasonable conclusion about your personality, character, confidence, and charisma. Even with a Skype conference using voice and camera, there is a lack in the exchange of that imperceptible for highly important exchange of energy that occurs between people who meet in person.
How, then, is he to decide whether you are a person with whom he wants to engage in a relationship? How is he to know whether you are worth his valuable time? Why should he meet with you, the anonymous email person, when there IS someone else standing at the receptionist’s desk pushing for an appointment. Or, why would he ask you on a date when there is a woman batting her eyelashes at him from the produce section at the market?
Which person would YOU most likely want to date: The lady who sends you an email with a picture attached (real? photo-shopped? out of date?), or the attractive woman who has the courage to say “hello” as she brushes by you at the concert? Of these two examples, which gal is most likely more outgoing, fun, and engaging?
Which person would YOU most likely want to hire: The guy who sends you an email with a perfectly prepared resume’ attached, or the man who goes to the trouble of dressing in his best suit, driving an hour or two to your location, just to buy you a cup of coffee for an informal introductory meeting? Of these two examples, which man is most likely the “go-getter”, the achiever, the producer?
A True Story
3 weeks ago, my lawn-mower broke. For 3 weeks, I’ve attempted to 1) find someone to come look at it, and 2) find someone to cut my lawn in the meantime. I’ve called a dozen people I found online, pulled business cards from bulletin boards, left my name and number, sent emails — all to no avail.
A few days ago while driving down the highway, upon passing a truck pulling a commercial size mower, I quickly dialed the number on the side of his trailer. “Sure, I’ll come out and take a look at it tomorrow,” he promised. And I never heard from him again.
As the grass continues to grow, having reached knee height, so has my frustration.
Then, today (I kid you not) — half-way through writing this blog entry — I took a break to run to the post office. On my way, I dashed into the local fuel center to grab a high-calorie, unhealthy frozen drink. (Hey, we all have our faults!) As I was leaving, I spied a man filling up his truck at the pumps. Attached to that truck was a lawn mower on a flat-bed.
I walked up to the man, said hello, and began to converse with him about the beautiful weather and high price of gasoline. I then asked if he was available to come cut my lawn. “It’s a buddy’s lawn mower,” he said. “He just let me borrow it. I don’t do this for a living.” Not one to be easily swayed, I asked, “Since you don’t do it for a living, would you ever consider doing it as a kind neighborly gesture?” I added a flirty smile to punctuate the sentence.
We continued to chat, allowing me time to explain my predicament and play upon his human empathy. 90 minutes later, my grass was cut with the promise that he’d return to cut it again in a few days. It had gotten so tall, one cut alone did little to spruce up its appearance. I handed him a check and he was on his way.
Before he left, however, he took a look at my broken lawn mower. He immediately called a buddy, and that buddy said he’d come over and look at it for me later tonight. As we casually chatted, he learned that I am an attorney and that I run a residential program for young adults.
About 10 minutes after my new friend-with-a-mower left, he returned. I met him at the front door. He said, “You’re an attorney, huh?” “Yes, sir, I am.” “I was thinking,” he started.
A few minutes later, I had a new client. And, given the size of this little town, a new client means additional referrals. And all because I approached a guy, in person, rather than relying on the internet & email method!
What’s Your Next Move?
You’re looking for love, or searching for a job, or (like some of us) you’re seeking both. What’s your next move?
First, evaluate what you’ve done so far:
It IS necessary to use the computer, to network online, build your web presence, establish and grow your network, and all of those various things I’ve written about in prior articles.
It IS necessary to prepare a resume’ that sells you in the best possible light, and to submit that resume’ to jobs for which you are qualified, along with a great cover letter.
It IS necessary to be active on sites like LinkedIn, to join groups, and to sign up with niche-appropriate job-board websites which update you via email on new listings.
Or, in the case of dating, those dating sites CAN be useful. It’s only 1 in 5 who find love that way, but who’s to say you won’t be the one who is the 1 ?
So, it IS necessary to do the things that are relatively easy. If you’ve not yet done these things, you’re behind schedule. Get to it.
But if you’re like me — an “old pro” at the online job-seeking and/or dating challenge — it’s time to step up your game and make your next move:
- Throw the house robe in the washing machine, spruce up the hair-color, don an outfit that is fittingly attractive, and smile at your polished reflection. You’re ready to face the world!
- Dust off the car (or find your long-forgotten subway pass) and head out into the masses.
- Pick a destination and GO: Meet a friend for a drink. Schedule an informal coffee meeting. Peruse the library but look as much (or more) at the other patrons as you do at the books. Attend a free seminar or networking event. The ideas are endless, and they ALL have the potential to lead you to finding what you seek.
- Engage in human interaction. Say “Hello.” Make a real connection. Keep repeating the process until the right connection is made!
Magically, as you follow the more assertive, effort-driven route to finding what you seek, your world begins to grow. Your network expands. You become re-energized. Your motivation increases.
Then, when you least expect it, you meet THE person — the one who offers the job or knows the guy who knows the gal who offers the job. Or in the dating scene, when you least expect it, you find yourself sitting across the table from a companion who makes you swoon, someone with whom the chemistry is undeniable ….
The bottom line here is simple: Easy is easy but success is seldom ever born from it. It takes an effort to achieve those things that are worthy of achieving. And whether it be love or labor, you have to put yourself out there in order to make the all-important human connection that seals the deal.