I have an acquaintance, we’ll call her “Sam”. Sam has been trying to get a job for three years now, ever since she was laid off from her accounting job at the start of this recession. Sam keeps complaining to me about why she can’t find a job. Sometimes she complains that the job postings companies put out there are not real. Sometimes she complains about how the only people who get the jobs are the ones who are friends of the hiring manager. Last week she complained to me about how all the good jobs are going overseas. At this point I offered to sit with her and go over what she was doing and see if there was room for improvement. She sent me her resume as a starting point and I spent about 30 seconds looking at this document before determining that Sam’s biggest problem was Sam.
Sam’s resume looked like something out of a resume nightmare. It was poorly formatted, full of spelling errors, filled with massive run on sentences and overflowing with useless information. It was 5 pages of utter nonsense which would make any would be hiring manager toss it into the garbage can as soon as they saw it. When I further asked Sam about her job search, I found out she had done no networking and no research into the various companies she was trying to get hired at. Think about that for a second. Here’s a woman who had been looking for a job for THREE YEARS and she was utterly clueless.
Now I’m not one to claim that we all should be experts at everything. I know plenty of people who are not experts at networking, resume writing or getting hired. However, if you find yourself failing at something over and over again, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate the thing all your failed attempts have in common, YOU!
Here’s another example from yet another acquaintance by the name of Rob. Rob has been dreaming of a wife and kids for as long as I can remember. However, Rob has had nothing but failed relationships which have left him bitter and resentful towards women. Rob likes to think that women are the problem and that “all women are bitches”. My answer to him was “have you ever thought that maybe it’s you?”
Seriously, none of us likes to think that we’re the problem but shouldn’t we at least examine the possibility? If we encounter some other repetitive issue, wouldn’t we look for common causes? For example, if we see a 100 cars roll over in the past year and all of them were SUV’s of a certain type, do you think we should blame the roads or perhaps we should look at what’s wrong with that model SUV? If we see 100 out of 1,000,000 people get cancer and it turns out these 100 were all smokers, do you think we should investigate cigarettes first or check into genetics? It’s common sense that we always check the factor that’s most common to our problem. So why do we overlook the most common problem of all?
What All Your Problems Have In Common Is You
If you’ve had 20 car accidents in 20 different cars in the past 10 years, I’m pretty sure it’s your driving that sucks, not those cars. And yes, if you’ve had 20 crappy relationships in the past 10 years I’m pretty sure it’s your relationship skills that suck and not “all women are bitches”. The same applies to Sam. If she’s been looking, and failing, to find a job for three years then it’s probably her fault. Yes, I realize jobs are hard to find these days but they’re not impossible to find and people are finding and keeping them.
However, before you think I’m just trying to blame the unemployed for their unemployment, I would ask you to bear with me for a bit. In fact, I am not saying this to make anyone feel bad. I’m actually hoping to give folks hope and not guilt. I say this because I want you to understand the good jobs are out there and, just as good relationship partners are out there and can be found. There’s no reason to give up hope and think “I’ll never find a job” or “I’ll never find a woman who loves me”. Just keep in mind the following things:
Admitting Fault Does Not Make You A Bad Person
For some messed up reason we’ve become a culture where admitting you made a mistake or aren’t very good at something is a horrible thing. We’re somehow expected to know it all and be able to do anything without any help. I think this is worse for men but even women get a lot of this pressure to never admit weakness.
So get this through your head, everybody has weaknesses. Everybody messes up. Everybody needs help at some point in their lives. Being willing to admit that makes your strong, not weak. Heck, I’ve screwed up so many things in the past that I can’t even count them. I’ve failed at everything from board games and hobbies to relationships and business start-ups. Just last year I tried to put together a fashion website which failed miserably and yes, it was completely my fault!
So no, admitting weakness or a mistake does not make you weak, it just makes you human. It’s what you do after this point which differentiates the winners from the Sam’s and Rob’s of the world.
First, find someone to help you. Help is available; in fact, lots of people have probably wanted to help you all along. Why haven’t they offered? Because it’s not their job to offer free help; it’s your job to seek it out. This is your problem after all, remember? Also, most people get a bit defensive when told they might be doing something wrong, so a lot of us have learned not to offer help unless asked to by someone who seems receptive to constructive criticism.
Still, if you’re willing to listen, there are plenty of people out there who would be happy to help. Seek out the ones who have succeeded at the thing you’re failing. That means if you’re failing at finding a job, look for someone who has gotten one recently. If you can’t find the right woman, look for a man who’s in a successful relationship. Ask them how they got where they are and try to figure out what they did differently from you. Ask them to look at what you’re trying to do and offer constructive criticism about your methodology. You’re essentially looking for a mentor here, someone who’s successful and can teach you to be successful at whatever it is you’re pursuing.
Also seek out the ones who are on the other side of the issue. That is, if you’re trying to get a job, talk to people who are currently hiring and if you’re looking to find a woman, perhaps you should find some women to talk to. This is related to the article I posted two weeks ago about solution selling. You need to understand what your target audience is looking for and why they’re not interested in what you’re offering. In this case you’re looking for a muse, more than a mentor, someone to inspire you and provide you with the clarity to move forward.
Once you have your mentors and muses (and yes, it’s even better if you have more than 1), feel free to experiment. They’re going to give you a lot of different advice, some or all of which might be applicable to you. Try out new resume techniques, new relationship skills, new networking events and new ways to meet women. Whatever problem you’re trying to solve, experiment with new ways of solving it and keep track of the results. Are you having more success when you network before sending a resume? Are you having more success when you send resumes earlier in the day? Are you having more success with smaller or larger companies? Keep experimenting until you find the method that works for you.
Yes, the reason you’ve been failing over and over is probably you. You’re doing something wrong. However, that’s no reason to beat yourself up and give up. It simply means you need some good advice to experiment with so you can try again and again, until you find what works and what doesn’t.