Looking for a job can be a time when your faith in people is restored. The friend who pays for your resume because you can’t and asks nothing in return; the neighbour who brings you a newspaper clipping of a job she’s seen that sounds “just like you”. Or the new Twitter follower who is moved to refer you to a professional who may help. You can be down in the dumps only to find that a wonderful opportunity springs from nowhere when you least expect it.
Yes, all sorts of people are willing to help you or offer advice. The only thing you need to be able to do is to stop talking and start listening.
Today I received a telephone call from a job seeker. I’ll call him Pete.
Pete had arrived in Australia at the end of 2008. He had held a job for a short time with the same international company that he’d been working with overseas, but the global financial crisis put an end to his assignment, and sadly the company couldn’t find another role for him. After a frustrating period of unemployment, he found a job. It wasn’t to his liking nor was it in his area of expertise, but it was a job. Now, that role too, was ending and Pete was back on the market again.
As Pete went through his background, it was clear he was upset. He talked of how recruiters only wanted someone with “local” experience, how he had toyed with the idea of changing careers but he didn’t know where to start, and how he had never been unemployed in his entire career before coming to Australia. Australia, he said, was a nightmare.
Despite having a full day of writing to do and deadlines beckoning, I felt for Pete. Not because I thought we could do business; he’d already told me that funds were non-existent. I wanted to help him organise his thoughts which were going in a hundred different directions, steeped in negativity, and obviously counterproductive to anything remotely like a successful job search.
For the majority of the 30 minutes we spent on the telephone, Pete wasn’t listening. I asked him about his job search methods, asked him about his areas of expertise and provided five pieces of job search advice that most people pay to receive. As I asked questions and explained the best ways for job search to work for him, Pete was off in his own world. He talked all over the top of me, interrupted me, and complained bitterly about how no-one would help him, when he was talking to a person who was helping him.
He was just talking too much to hear.
When I offered a suggestion, he said it wouldn’t work. When asked if he’d tried it, he told me he hadn’t.
When I recommended he call his original employer that he had tenure with in another country and here in Australia, he said they wouldn’t be worth calling. He hadn’t investigated that option, indeed had no idea what their hiring practices were right now, but felt sure they wouldn’t be hiring.
After 30 years in the careers industry, I know a lot about looking for a job. So much so that people pay for my knowledge and I was offering it free at that moment. Pete though was too busy allowing his emotions to control him. He didn’t want advice, he didn’t want help, he didn’t want to listen; he just wanted to vent, challenge and argue.
In an hour from now, Pete will probably wonder what that website was again, and wrack his brains to remember any of my tips. Or, maybe he didn’t hear anything at all and continues to tell anyone who’ll listen, that nobody will help him find a job.
Help is everywhere; you just need to be open enough to listen and accept it.