By Jack J. Kelly
The lousy winter weather is finally over in the Northeast and Spring is here. Although, given the crazy changes in climate, who knows what will happen next? It’s like Russian roulette; you don’t know what you’ll get next as today could be sunny and 80 degrees and tomorrow you will need to pull out your parkas because it’s snowing. Let’s be positive and hope that we’ll have a good, old- fashioned springtime without any typhoons or snow storms.
The start of Spring is a fantastic time for a fresh new start. The sun is shining, flowers sprout, and the sad naked looking trees have leaves again. People start feeling human, as they emerge from hibernation.
I’m not sure if people who live in climates that are consistent throughout the year understand how the change from Winter to Spring- with Summer right around the corner- helps our mental and emotional outlook on life. It is an amazing feeling of relief like a giant weight has been lifted. The prospect of the days being longer and sunnier, the ability to do things outdoors without freezing, and not having to confront the long, dark, cold nights starting at four o’clock.
It’s time to shake off the winter doldrums and get your life together. Now when I say life, I’m really talking about work. Sorry, but you’re on your own when it comes to the personal stuff.
To get your work-life into high gear, start by hyper-focusing on what is important to you. If you are looking for a new job (which just happens to be my specialty), don’t get lulled into complacency by the sultry teasing spring and summertime breezes. It’s so easy to let yourself get distracted by all the new things to do when it’s nice out. Average people plan vacations, go to baseball games, and take walks in the park with a loved one. Put all that nonsense out of your mind, as you are on a mission and way above average. If you are looking for a new job then your focus should firmly be on what it takes to attain it. You only have a relatively small window of opportunity starting now until about early July, since that’s when the summer hiring slowdown happens- due to the crazy people who take vacations and ruin it for the rest of us motivated folks.
Once you’ve decided that you want a new job, you’ve got to go after it with drive, ambition, and determination. Don’t let anything or anyone stop you, not even a round of golf with your buddies or the temptation to sneak away to the beach.
Prepare an elevator pitch for the interview. An elevator pitch, if you are not familiar, is a quick, two-minute or so sales pitch of who you are, why you are awesome, how you will succeed in the job that you are applying for, and will make the hiring manager’s life easier and better. Learn how to sell yourself by practicing, practicing, and practicing some more. Do this out loud. Things always sound better in your head, but once you say it to someone for the first time, it can sound pretty terrible. If you practice your pitch out loud to a spouse, friend, the mirror, or your dog, you will perfect it and sound amazing when you go into the interview. Also, knowing you have a powerful elevator pitch will instill confidence, which will make you perform extraordinarily well.
Create a great resume and enhance your stale LinkedIn profile. Network like crazy. Contact recruiters and meet with recruiters in your field of expertise. If one recruiter sucks, find a new one. Go to conferences and strike up conversations with anyone who can help you. Leverage all your friends, family, old college buddies, coworkers, and former associates to get job leads and contacts. If you aren’t feeling well before an interview, too bad, go anyway and bring your ‘A’ game. No excuses, no complaining, as there will be plenty of time in August to relax when everything shuts down.
Be mentally prepared; no one owes you anything and nobody cares about you, but yourself in the interview process. You have to make your own breaks in life and create your own future. You will fail, but get back up. You will get rejected, but keep moving forward.
Work on your appearance, mannerisms, and articulation, so that you come across as a winner. If your winter suits are old and frayed, buy a new beautiful suit. If your haircut is out of style, spring for a nice new, fashionable look. Lose the 90’s tie and old-style glasses. Improve your vocabulary. Work on your diction and presentation. Be conscious of your body language.
Look in the mirror and see how you smile. Do you look sleazy, or smart and dependable? Is your handshake like a limp fish or firm and strong? Do you maintain good eye contact or do you avoid a direct look and your eyes dart around the room? Do you fidget or sit up straight? Are you slumped over when you walk into a room or do you walk in like you own it?
Before the interview, do your homework; learn every little detail about the people before you meet them and become an expert on the company. Map out and time the route to the interview days in advance, so you don’t get lost or stuck in traffic. Don’t leave anything to chance.
As you do this, you will get better and stronger and your confidence will blossom. Nothing will stop you from your goal. It may take a while, but so what? In the long term, what does a month or six months matter in a career that may last 30 to 40 years? It is an endurance contest, not a sprint. You are playing to win in the long run.
If you follow this advice, I promise that you will succeed. I can’t guarantee when, but it will ultimately happen. Why am I so confident? Because I have seen thousands of people take this approach, procure great jobs, and do phenomenally well in their careers. Now, is the best time to start!