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I think that a lot of us feel like “If people just knew the real me, they’d realize I’m a fraud”. Everyone seems to have that little voice in your head that says that you’re not good enough at (fill in the blank). I’ve definitely heard this voice too often.
It’s so surprising when I’ve talked with the most talented and creative clients and they too have this little voice. Given that reality, I’ve come to believe that it’s probably a more universal source. We’ve all got the voice, but it’s our unique version of it It’s like we’ve got a resident bodyguard whose job it is to point out to us at every step what might go wrong and protect us.
I’ve found it helpful to give this voice I name. I’ve named mine Gollum after the character in Lord of the Rings, as he seems to work out of a position if fear and secrecy. When he shows up, I can view him as another input, but one that I can easily acknowledge but not put too much faith in.
This shows up in job searchers in that many times they don’t speak well of themselves to others. This is the classic “bombing the interview” or missing the networking opportunity. They are listening and putting too much credence into their own personal Gollum that they don’t put themselves out there.
Thus is where my recommendation to ” fake it ’till you make it” comes it. I’m not talking about faking your competence at anything, but to fake your confidence. Nobody wants to be around someone who is nervous and twitching. If you just act like you’re confident, your results will probably be better, and that will lead to more confidence. Hopefully, this cycle will continue and you will get more successes, which will lead to more confidence.
So, what kind of confidence do you need to fake?
I have heard many a job searcher complain that they could do anything if just given the chance. “I could do that but they just don’t know it yet!” It is like job searchers think that they are pounds of clay that just need to be molded by the right hands to make a beautiful vase.
The main problem with this approach is that the job seeker is focused on their experience and not that of the hiring manager. Let’s instead look at it from that point of view.
Imagine that you are a manager, and you need some help. You’ve got a lot of responsibilities and you are probably covering a part of someone else’s position (which is why you need help). In addition to that, now you have to make the extra effort to find someone to help you. What you’d really like to do is blink your eyes like Samantha in the old Bewitched TV show (or wriggle your nose like Barbara Eden in I Dream of Jeannie) and have someone magically appear that is perfect for the position and can take all this work off your desk.
Just to enlighten you, as much as people don’t like looking for a job, managers don’t like having to do the search. Everyone doesn’t like the uncertainty of it. That said, the manager wants to know three things that will instill some confidence that you are the right person for the job. The more you can make it obvious that you’ve got all these things, the easier it will be that they are making the right decision in bringing you on
The three things that every hiring manager needs to know about you are:
- Do You Have the Skills, Knowledge and Experience That I Need for Someone in This Position? Do you know what’s expected of someone in this role. If you don’t have what they need, then you are guessing about what to tell them to give them confidence.
- Will I Want To Hang Around With You All Day? Most people spend more time with their co-workers than their family daily. While I don’t have to be your best friend, I want to know that I can go out to lunch with you once in a while, have a pleasant conversation and get along with you. The hiring manager can’t tell this from a resume and cover letter.
- Will You Drive Me Crazy? Almost everyone has the experience of working with someone who is brilliant, intelligent, creative, etc. but is sobbing who you would never what to work with for the rest of your life. We all know the Prima Donna concept, and no manager wants to work with someone who will need as much work to support as it will with the results of their actions. Again, this can’t be gleaned from a resume.
So, how do you get them to understand that you’re great to be around and won’t drive them crazy? Same as how you figure out which restaurant has good service and which frozen dinner doesn’t taste like cardboard: references from trusted sources. If the hiring manager knows of people you know and they can speak to the fact that you are professional, aren’t a raving lunatic, and work well with others, I’m going to have more confidence in you. That said, you need to build up your relationships with people who the hiring manager might talk to before the job opens up. You need to be seen as credible to people all the time, and not just when applying for the job.
So, what relationships are you building in your professional field that will help you in the future?
I just got back from a great dance weekend where I got to contra dance, English Country Dance, waltz, and catch up with many friends who I haven’t gotten the chance to talk to in a while. This community has been a constant support to me and gets to the core of my creative life, which is music and dance in a GLBT context. In the story of the past few years, I’ve been exploring other parts of my life, and I’m now looking to see how I can integrate this part of me that has been secure back into my life.
That, and I need to get back into dancing shape. I’m a sore puppy today, and I even tried to pace myself. I guess that and I’m not 25 anymore. More transitions.
What really touched me is that I connected with two friends, one who just started a new job and another unemployed and looking, and they both mentioned that they read this blog and have gotten either techniques, context, understanding, or all three. I try to bring whatever insight (or crazy idea) I have, and it’s nice to know that others have gotten benefit from it. I never know who reads this blog, so it’s nice to get some positive feedback, as that gives me impetus to keep writing.
As usual, I like to see this in the broader context of how each of us shows up in the world and makes an impact. It made my day that I found out others appreciated what I had to say, and that it made a difference in their lives. You never know what it is that you have to offer will make a difference to others, whether it’s the knowledge you share, or the acknowledgment that you made a difference.
So, if this blog has helped you, let me know, and what ways are you making a difference to others?
I met a friend this past weekend who just moved to the Boston area a few months ago from California, and he was looking for ways that he could connect up with other people to play tennis. As someone new to the area, he seemed a bit confused as to how he could find out where things were happening. I mentioned that he should look in the Community section of BayWindows.com for all the GLBT groups in the area, and that I also had a friend who played in a gay tennis league not too far from where he lives.
This got us to talking more about how the Boston area always makes connections by groups and common interest. (I’ve written about this before in my blog. See the article here). He then commented that it also worked when he had been at a club that there were a group of guys that kept to themselves, but when he was introduced to them through someone he knew, they all talked with him and could reintroduce himself the next time he saw them. We here in the chilly North tend to want to know the connections between people before we make approaches.
As usual, I see a parallel with job search. If you are trying to get a job or moving into a new field, the people you want to meet are those that you want to show that you have something in common with. People aren’t going to want to meet you because you’re nice; there are a lot of nice people in the world. We tend to make our choices about which movie to go see, which TV to buy, or which restaurant to dine at given the comments of our trusted sources.
So, what stories about you are your friends and colleagues telling about you, and are they making others what to meet you?
PS – Remember to listen to the Quest of Life Podcast on Friday at 1 p.m. EST to hear me live (see previous blogpost about that!)
In the past day, I’ve seen two very inventive videos of people who are doing the things they love and sharing them. The first is a video by Emerson College students where they are doing a lip psyching video to a compilation of Lady Gaga songs. It involves over 400 students and was basically a campus tour as the showed all the facilities but also demonstrated the skill sets that they were developing in their studies (namely performance, video production, editing, event coordination, etc.). I’ve worked with a number of students that I see in this video and it’s amazing to see what they’ve accomplished. It’s also starting to go viral around the world too.
The second one was a music video of musician performing jazzed-up Christmas carols, but only using different iPhone and iPod apps. They replicate hand bells, guitars, conga drums, and numerous other instruments. The performance is great, and really shows off their technical skills.
This reminds me a lot of the video of the band Atomic Tom that performed and recorded a music video on the subway using just iPhones for both the performing and recording.
What do these all have in common? These people are demonstrating to the works what they have to offer others professionally. You don’t have to wonder what they can do, as they are showing it off. You don’t have to go and ask these people of their value; it’s right in front of you.
What does this have you do with your career? Everything!
Most people I work with hide what they have to offer the world, or at least make it so difficult to find out this information that people never see it. It’s either so cryptically written in a resume or an interviewer needs to ask so many questions to find the answer that the news of your value never gets out to be seen.
If you’re going to be happy in what you do in your career, it needs to cone from the capabilities that you have that you love to do (and are skilled at!). Are you a good writer? Write things that people can actually see (instead of keeping it all locked away on your computer or journal. Really good at organizing? Organize something that people in the world will experience. And mist importantly, after you’ve done it, let other people know about it! Your reputation is built on your works, and other people will be able to say good things about you to others (like hiring managers) in the future.
So, what beautiful, creative things about yourself are you keeping from the world?
I’ve got a beard now, and I’ve had it for almost two years. I grow a good beard and I’ve been encouraged over the past few decades to grow it. The problem was always that at about three weeks time, I would want to to tear my face off as it would get so itchy (and my face would break out). I have a lot of friends who have beards (and really think that all men look better with beards) and I would tell them that I was about to shave off my beard because if the itching. With great fervor, they would insist that I just grow it out and it wouldn’t itch anymore. It never worked for me, as I’d last at most a month.
Finally, I grew it out and I tried something different. I noticed that a lot of guys would now have their beards really short, and I thought it looked really cool. I got a shaver with the trimmer guide, and just kept my beard to about a seven days growth. Surprise, I didn’t itch. Found out that I’ve got very curly beard hair, and by growing it longer, it would curl back into my face and make me itch. Whereas for other guys, growing their beard out would make it more comfortable, for me it’s the opposite.
In navigating our career paths, many times we get recommendations from people that work for them, but don’t work for us, and many times they are absolutely sure are know the right thing. This goes to show that you really have to look at what is your own situation, what works for you, and what doesn’t. That’s one reason that I work with so many people in asking the “What do you want?” question. Until you know more about what’s important to you and your own situational specifics, it’s hard to know where to go.
So, how do you know what recommendations to take?
I just returned from Easton Mountain where I took part in Single Men’s Weekend, which was an opportunity to reflect upon the state of being single, how I am with that, and what I need to do differently if I want to change that situation. As many if you know, I’ve been single for five years and am in a pretty good place as far as bring happy with myself and what I want in my life. This weekend did give me the chance to look at how I’m being in the world and if that’s serving me in the long run.
Here are a bunch of reflections that I’ve had since coming back:
- Too often we think of a date as a Big Fat Hairy Deal. We could just use it as another opportunity to have a good time and not put so much pressure on yourselves to see if this is “the One”.
- I need to practice dating like I need to practice meditation or playing the hammered dulcimer. I’m not expecting to get it right all the time. I’m going to make mistakes. Plan for those.
- You need to compromise in a relationship, but you shouldn’t compromise yourself.
- You need to bring all of you into a relationship. Otherwise you will be giving incomplete information to your potential mate, and he won’t be able to make a good decision if you’re not being truthful about yourself, and you’ll feel nervous about being “found out”.
- Ask for what you want, but don’t “spook the sheep” by unleashing it all at once. This assumes you know what you want first.
- I’m just as busy as everyone else in this culture. Am I using my busyness to keep me closed off from openings to be with a potential partner because “I don’t have the time” ?
The parallels between dating and job search should be obvious, but if it isn’t, substitute the word ‘job’ for ‘partner’ or ‘date’ in the above thoughts.
So, where are you keeping yourself from a relationship, whether work or romantic?