How Big is your BUT?

September 21, 2009

Removing self-imposed obstacles to your career success
I’ve been in the selling business for over 15 years now – recruiting is a selling activity on steroids.  I spend my day selling ideas to job seekers, selling candidate strengths to clients, getting candidates excited about opportunities, you get the idea.  I’m also a student of selling methods and one of my favorite sales gurus is Jeffrey Gitomer.  One of his recent articles was titled “How bit is your but?” about how sales people take credit when they make a sale, but play the blame game when they don’t.  This idea is wonderfully relevant in the case of your current job search.
First, let’s get an understanding of your current state.  You are either unemployed or underemployed and want to change that situation.  That means that you are in selling mode; you are selling yourself, your experience, your character and your market value at every stage of the job search process.  There is no other way to look at it; you are in sales.  Get rid of the stigma attached to the term sales.  If you’ve ever convinced a 4 year old to take their cough medicine or a teenager to take out the trash you’ve sold. 
Now this article isn’t about selling, it’s about how big your ‘but’ is.  The greatest obstacle to getting a job is you.  How many of these whines can you identify with?
  1. I need to look for a job, but the garage needs to be cleaned (or the basement, or the kitchen).
  2. I’ve submitted dozens of applications but I don’t get any responses.
  3. I need to make follow up calls but I have to take my son to music lessons.
  4. I start writing cover letters, but the kids are constantly interrupting me.
  5. I set aside time in the evening for company research but once the dishes are done and the kids have finished their homework I’m exhausted, besides, my favorite show is on and I really need a distraction.
  6. I’d like to find a new job that will be more interesting, but I keep hearing about all the layoffs and I’m afraid to try something new right now.
  7. I hate my current position but due to staff reductions, we’re working overtime and I just can’t find time to look for something else.
Any of these sound like you?  They look different in print, huh?  All of us can find reasons NOT to accomplish our goals, and are able to blame many of those reasons on someone else.  The first thing you need to do is accept responsibility for your situation and then take the necessary steps to change the situation.  In other words, get out of your own way!
Looking for a job, whether you have one or not, requires commitment, discipline and time management.  Keep in mind that the length of your search will depend on the amount of focused, productive time you put into it.  If you are currently working and have limited time to engage in your search it will take longer.  If you are not working, congratulations!  You have plenty of time to commit to your future success.  Yes, the economy sucks right now.  Guess what?  People are still getting jobs; GREAT JOBS!  Don’t you deserve one of them?
First, you have to decide how much time you will invest in your search each week.  You’ll need time for research, online networking, applications, interviews, face-to-face networking and follow up.  Not all of these activities will be necessary each week so a weekly (and daily) plan needs to be established.  Here are some ideas that will help you make the most of this time:
  1. Establish a quiet place in your home that is your office.  This needs to be a place where no one can interrupt you, preferably with a door that will separate you from the rest of your world so you can concentrate, focus, and talk on the phone without external noises.
  2. Publish weekly office hours.  Make sure that your family sees these hours and respects your time.  If you are on the clock, NO interruptions – unless someone is bleeding or dead.
  3. Set daily goals for yourself (make 3 new calls, find 5 new companies, connect with 2 former colleagues) so that you can celebrate each day’s productivity.  During your search, no one is monitoring your work; you have to be your own boss so set expectations clearly and make them happen!
  4. Answer your phone professionally, and if there is noise in the background, let it go to voice mail so you can return the call from your office.
  5. Activity breeds activity.  Connections made with former coworkers will result in new connections with people you don’t know today, and may result in a job tomorrow.  Make as many authentic connections as you can, be prepared to help and ask for their help.
  6. Schedule your activities in harmony with your body clock.  If you are a morning person, do your personal follow up, interviews and brain work in the morning.  Save mundane tasks; research, applications, email responses, for the low energy part of your day.
  7. Repetition increases productivity.  Try and combine like activities into a single time period in order to get more done. If you need to follow up on resumes you’ve sent, take a one hour block of time and do them all at once.  If you have an outside day, schedule a breakfast meeting, coffee, lunch, interview and happy hour all in the same day – you’re dressed, prepped, in the proper mindset – make the most of it!
  8. Make sure you have the right tools to do your job (looking for a job).  Email (with a professional signature just for your job search), contact manager, document processor, PDF creator, online or paper calendar (with you at all times), a mobile phone than only you answer, Linked In, online business news subscriptions, and a database or spreadsheet to track your activity.
Not one of these suggestions alone will get you a job tomorrow.  Combining your energy, productivity, discipline and personal accountability will collectively contribute to your ultimate success.  By removing your BUTS and self-imposed obstacles, you’ll have the capacity to visualize your next amazing career opportunity.  For more ideas on career development and getting hired please visit us at

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