Jerry S. was laid off from his job working in a call center five months ago due to a reorganization of the company. Since that time, Jerry has been doing a lot of things right in his job search – he developed a clear and decisive job search plan, has been applying to jobs that he has researched, and he has been putting himself out there at networking meetings, job fairs and career-related seminars. But, the one big mistake that Jerry has made is that he does not have a way for employers to remember him – he had no networking card to leave behind.
A networking card is a form of a business card that simply has your contact information on it that you can hand out when at a networking meeting or a job fair. It is more professional than leaving your name on a piece of paper and it can position you as prepared and ready for action. It actually could be a deal-breaker if you so happen to meet a hirer, like a recruiter or a manager. Here are what should go on your networking card:
- Your telephone number(s)
- Your email address & LinkedIn address
- A short statement of your specialty job area, skills or brand – something memorable about you
You can either print them yourself or go to a store; if you do them yourself, make sure that you have a good cardstock, I recommend glossy, minimizing any details that could be distracting, and with a 12-point font so it is easy to read. If you go to a store, such as Vistaprint or Staples (Staples actually is a Vistaprint vendor so you can order them in the store and they will print them there without the wait or shipping), be sure to pick a design that is simple and not overused, so plain may be better; be sure to edit the back before you print. You can typically get 250 cards for $10-15 dollars, which is definitely worth the investment.
A problem that I see with people who are in job search mode is that they don’t realize they are missing the boat when they do not have a networking card, or one that is not attractive or stands out. Do you really want to get lost in a sea of small strips of paper with a multitude of other job seekers or do you want to present yourself as a confidant and prepared job seeker, that knows his/her skills, what they have to offer and is ready to do so? This is particularly critical considering that job seekers are being scrutinized on all levels – get prepared and stand out from the crowd!
Time and again I see people start to make their plans for their future – pursuing a new job or career path, or starting their own businesses. They are initially excited by the possibilities that lie in front of them and eagerly set out on their path, only to see road blocks and work ahead. Soon, they are feeling frustrated and defeated; some go on, only because they have to (job seekers) but some give up (career changers). Why does this happen?
These people live in “self-defeat”. They allow their fears and insecurities to overtake them. They base their future on past perceptions of failure, either from their own or from someone else’s. Often, these types of people don’t rely on, or trust, themselves and seek out the opinions of others who can’t grasp their head around lofty goals or change. They allow that “little voice” to creep in and take over, leaving them feeling so frustrated that they give up or give in. Eventually, they feel angry, anxious and depressed and go about doing what they did before. Or they take the first job that comes along.
This type of self-defeatist behavior can be attributed to a myriad of issues, but usually has to do with a lack of self-esteem and confidence, mixed in with fears. From an adult developmental perspective, we have different stages that we pass through from infancy to our adult years with each of these stages presenting challenges and learning opportunities on how we act and react. Our learning and behaviors become imprinted at an early age and we master them as we grow up. But there are also outside influences that impact us and, dependent upon our personality, we may hold onto that impact for a long time and will revert back to it as situations arise. Here is an example: if you can remember when you were a child and had your first spelling test; you studied hard and thought you did well, only to find you got a B or a C. You thought you did well. You bring home your test and are yelled at by one of your parents who thought you did not study hard enoug and could have done better. You now have a fear when you take the next test because you don’t want to be yelled at again. This is how we get imprinted.
It is possible to overcome and banish this self-defeat attitude but it takes conscious awareness and work. Changing self-behaviors is tough – it does not come automatically although there are people who have that ability. It will take some behavior modification, some motivation, mixed in with some positive psychology to set your goal and determination to face your fears and to think more positively. If you believe you can achieve your goals, you can. How do you overcome your fears and self-defeating behaviors?
I see it time and time again. Job seekers who short-change themselves on their skills and talents that prevents them from being successful in their job search. These individuals only know what they know; they only see themselves in the job role they left; other times they don’t really feel that they have any real knowledge or skills that would be valuable to an employer. This small-minded thinking keeps them small in their job search, leaving them feeling lost and frustrated that they are not getting any results.
What leads to this mental block? Several factors could be in play, such as low self-esteem, inability to see “the big picture” or not wanting to boast or brag. How can you tell if you are short-changing yourself in your job search? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do you have difficulty listing your skills, values, or past accomplishments?
- Is it difficult for you to link your past job experiences with a current job path?
- Do you leave out certain skill sets or talents when asked to, either because they seem too minor to too large?
- Can you not visualize yourself in a job or career path?
If you answered yes to these questions, then you have just shot down any chance you having of finding a job. You must be able to answer these questions to know exactly what benefit you will bring to any employer and help you become more focused in your job search. It is imperative that you have a very clear picture of what skills and talents you possess and then be able to convey them, both in writing and through networking, so that you create interest and desire by potential employers. Taking the time to answer them will help you become clearer and confident and streamline your job-search efforts.