Are you enough?


Josie, who had been searching for her next position for over a year was offered a job on Friday, making July 16 a day of celebration! Over 50, the longer her search went on, the more certain she was that she wasn’t enough…young enough, credentialed enough, talented enough, experienced enough, competitive enough, healthy enough, worthy enough…etc. etc.

Note that last enough: “worthy enough.” While you–especially if you’re in the job-hunt, too–may not say this aloud, feeling “worthy enough” is almost sure to be part of your self-talk. Because, if you really were worthy enough (you figure), they would have recognized it and not let you go; or they would have hired you by now.

Backward thinking, hurtful thinking and harmful thinking.

The voice in your head that tells you that you’re “not enough ___” (fill in the blank) is your ego talking. And your ego has been collecting “here’s the right/good/appropriate way to do things” your whole life. It’s there and collecting “how you must be” so that you fit in to your environments, and into society’s expectations. After all, can’t have a school full of children who don’t raise their hands now, can we? On the assembly line, we couldn’t afford to have workers who were creative cogs now, could we? Or people who didn’t work inside their cubicles because, obviously, no work is getting done!

So, the voice in your head collects stuff in an effort to have you fit in and to make sense of things. Now, get this: since your mind has collected these things over years–from others’ comments, statements and actions–your ego is really OPE: Other People’s Expectations. The ego is a reflection of what you believe others want you to be, and all of the experiences you have collected through life as they fit into those expectations. As humans, we like comfort and what we know (we think) is better than what we don’t!

So consider my client who searched for almost a year. Her self-talk about finding a job comes from her job-search experience over the last 20 or so years.

So, Josie, people who are valuable are hired quickly. Well, actually, they don’t lose their jobs in the first place. So, you must not be valuable since it’s taking so long. Your last manager must have said something bad about you. You knew you couldn’t trust her. You shouldn’t have put her name on that employment form. And, you should have submitted your resume faster. You aren’t the spring chicken you used to be–they probably think you’re too old. Your experience gives you away, you know. If you ever get an interview (and you really screwed up that last telephone interview), they’ll ask you about your last two positions that were less than two years each. Even though they were cutting staff, if you were any good you’d still be in those jobs. In fact, remember that article you read only a few weeks ago: hiring managers don’t even want to interview people who are unemployed because they think you have a performance problem. So they are probably right–you do.


So how do you get to being “enough”?

1. Recognize that self-talk is not usually based on fact, or at least the facts of current reality. So the assumptions and beliefs that are driving our thoughts are likely old or outdated.

2. Practice stopping your automatic thinking, the self-talk that is negative. When you catch yourself doing the “not enough” thinking, say to yourself: “I know that’s not true because…” and complete the sentence with as many answers as you can. Even one answer shows you that your initial thinking, the negative self-talk, is only an assumption and not necessarily true.

Since how we think has a direct connection to what we do, it’s worth learning to work around your ego to get to a place where you will be effective–in your job search or any other situation where you want to move forward.

Self-talk keeps us stuck and ego keeps us small. Be intentional about your thinking and step into being enough. I guarantee you’ll like it there.

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Chasing your tail?


So how’s that job search going?

Chasing your tail?

Chasing your tail?

I facilitate a monthly networking group–Execunet–for those who are in job search mode and/or who recognize that connecting, developing and maintaining a lifelong network is critical in today’s work world. Some people don’t get it: when they leave, they say “Nice to be here, but I hope I don’t see you next month!” Others do get it, and use the meeting as a beginning step in expanding their lifelong network.

We’re creatures of habit, so maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that so many folks looking for their next job use the same old approaches and tactics that worked the last time around–back in the 20th century… way back, actually. So, when you’re looking, just know that hanging your job search on these things is really ineffective…a lot like a dog chasing its tail!

“I’m an executive”

What you were called then doesn’t mean a whole lot, except to you, obviously, as you continue to define who you are by your former title.

It's about value, not title

It's about value, not title

So making it a point of dropping “executive” and “C-level” and “Cxx” into your conversation and expecting people to treat you special (and be honest here, if you didn’t think it did, why would you use it in the first place?) isn’t effective or helpful. It dates you. It says you’re still living in the past. Emphasizing what your title was as opposed to what your value is says “I paid my dues and deserve to be at the top of the heap” or “I’m important, so know who you’re talking to.”

Other executives may be interested in hearing this…most likely for mirroring or measurement purposes. Otherwise, it’s really irrelevant. While there was a time when you were defined by your title, that’s no longer the case: you are defined by what you bring to the workplace, by your skills and talents and characteristics and contributions.

Hiring managers (C-level included) want to know what you can do for them…not how great you used to be, or how high up the ladder you climbed. When you tell your stories about results, outcomes, growth and value you can make it very plain that you bring strategic-level results and visionary leadership. And that’s what translates to “what you can do for them.”

POINT: Talk your value, not your (former) title.

“I have an MBA”

That’s great. An MBA has value in and of itself. But what have you learned since you got that degree?

Work is driven by information and ideas. The amount of information–new information–available to us every 30 days is staggering: it’s about as much as two Washington Monuments. We can’t even measure it linearly, only exponentially. Look at it this way: in 1980, the information available to us as a world was about the size of the Washington Monument. Now, every 30 days we have double that available.** Not all good probably, not all valuable maybe, but available nonetheless. So an MBA, as the end-all-and-be-all statement of business knowledge has a life span of, say, the time it takes you to walk across the stage as you collect your degree.

Of course your MBA is valuable…just don’t think you can stop there. It may be most useful today to get you through the paper sort of resumes, but it says nothing about how current you are. So, use your MBA as a distinction, yes, but more importantly as a jumping-off-point for your agility and ongoing learning around business, building teams and leading change.

POINT: Talk your currency, not your degree.

“My resume tells the story!”

Where is your resume in the haystack?

Where is your resume in the haystack?

To you, maybe, but it’s your story that gets lost in the pile of paper collected for a job posting.

The best use of a resume is to follow you…not precede you! Because when it follows you, the person who reads it has already met you and so begun the process of knowing, liking and trusting you.

If you must send your resume to become part of a stack of paper, then you also must recognize that how it tells your story is the key to getting you to the other stack, the “interview” pile. Effective resumes summarize, highlight, spotlight, accentuate and underscore your value in concise, carefully chosen and customized language, and do so in the first third of the first page. On average, your resume, might get a seven-second read; your goal is to have your paper-description fit the job description like a glove…so you get a longer read and make it into that more desirable stack of paper!

POINT: Talk your fit, not your life story.

Little shifts can make for big impacts.  Be intentional in your approach, stop chasing your tail, and get more effective results:  focusing on your value, not your persona makes you memorable!

**from the video, Shift Happens!, by Karl Fisch and Scott McLeod