Executive Recruitment | Belfast | Northern Ireland

Prepare for success in the job market

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

It’s fair to say that most of us want what successful people have, and in a sense there is nothing wrong with this. The problem is that we’re just not prepared to pay the price they paid to achieve it.

One of Michelangelo’s greatest successes was his sculpture of David. He worked on it with such passion that he often slept in his clothes, resenting the time it took to take them off and put them on again.  He repeatedly examined and measured the marble to see what pose it could accommodate.  He made hundreds of sketches of possible attitudes, and detailed drawings from models.  He tested his ideas in wax on a small scale, and only when he was satisfied did he pick up his chisel and mallet.

He approached the painting of the Sistine Chapel with the same intensity. Lying at uncomfortable angles on hard boards, breathing in the suffocating air just under the vault,
he suffered from inflamed eyes and skin irritation from the plaster dust. After four years he produced his masterpiece.

This might be  an extreme example of success but lets try to bring it down to our level by referring to Dr Martin Luther King Jr who said that if a man is called to be a road sweeper he should sweep them as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry.  He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause and say: ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’   That for him was success.

For many it is survival rather than success that is the name of the game, and this means holding down that job or getting back into employment following redundancy. But surely to survive is to succeed provided of course you make the right decisions.  And to a large extent whatever situation you are in today has been determined by the decisions you took in the past. So if you want to change the future you need to learn to make better decisions. Here are some guiding principles on how to make better decisions:

  1. Don’t make permanent decisions based on temporary circumstances. To take the first job you are offered in a redundancy situation could be a big mistake
  2. Don’t let your emotions blind your reasoning. Weigh things carefully and base your decisions on mature judgement, having weighed up all the “pros” and “cons”
  3. Seek the advise of others. Draw on the experience of people you can trust without being intimidated by them
  4. Take time to consider all options. Remember what looks inviting today may not look so good tomorrow. So don’t be flattered by the first job offer you receive.
  5. Take time to get all the facts: Too often career decisions are taken without carrying research on the potential organisation’s culture and management style with disastrous outcomes
  6. Consider the consequences of each decision. Having looked at the options and got the facts make sure you are ready to live with your decision
  7. Be realistic about your competencies. If you can’t count don’t apply for a job in the Finance Department. Focus on what you are good at and have experience of.
  8. Time is of the essence. This is your most limited and valuable resource. So don’t wait for the job to land on your lap as the chances are this will take some time given the numbers applying for each job

So what is the dividing line between success and failure? I believe it is the amount of preparation that you make. Think back to Michelangelo and David.  Had he not prepared he would probably have failed.  The late Arthur Ashe (one of the great tennis Champions) said: ‘the key to winning was self-confidence and the key to self-confidence is preparation.’

Asked how long it would take to bring his ship to a stop, the captain of the Queen Mary replied: ‘A little over a mile.’  Then he added: ‘A good captain thinks at least a mile ahead.’

Your success as you consider your future career is determined by how important it is to you, and your ability to prepare for it. And this is built around wise planning, based on common sense and keeping abreast of the facts.

One of the founding fathers of the United States once said: ‘Men give me credit for genius, but all the genius I have lies in this: when I have a subject to hand, I study it profoundly.’

We are fast approaching the summer season so why not take stock of where you are on the career ladder, and do what all successful people in all walks of life have done – namely prepare well.  So get a good CV written that clearly and concisely states what you have done and achieved.  However this will take time and mean that you will have to ‘think profoundly’ – something very few people do and therefore fail when applying for jobs.  But if you do I this is the best way for you to gain in self-confidence and is essential if you to perform well at your next interview.

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