A few weeks ago, I gathered five of my trusted associates ( trainers, consultants, coaches and a recruiter) to run a coaching session for those seeking employment in exchange of a free lunch (they’re good hearted and generous people, I tell you!). Why? I kept reading about people on LinkedIn having no luck finding jobs and rather than just wish them luck, I hoped that we could offer them better insight into why they may not be having job offers. I did a survey and my LinkedIn post received about 10,000 views and about 100 responses but those that turned up at the coaching session were few and none came from those that responded and expressed interest.

We had the coaching session at only RM30 which gave participants access to advice and coaching covering personal financing, values, resume review, personal branding and more. Each participant spent about 30 minutes with each coach. We dug deep and made sure they all went home with something to think about and do.

Participants who turned up came from different backgrounds. Some were having difficulty getting jobs as they were expats, some put their careers on hold for personal reasons and wanted to get back in the workforce, some left their high level jobs to start a family and needed flexible hours, some were retrenched.

We were there to listen and ask questions to make them think deeper and improve their approach.

We continue to be there to support them for another two months, at no charge. We hope that these two months will result in all of them getting a job or start a business.

We had 11 participants which was an ideal number for us to spend enough time with each of them. But why weren’t there more? We would have gladly added on sessions. What was holding people back from taking the next step? One reason could be FEAR.

What if after the session, you still find yourself without a job?

What if after getting all the advice from the coaches, you are still unable to improve your situation?

What if  success or failure boils down to you?

How do you push past these fears?

Fear of confirming that you’re unhireable. If you look for a job without much effort and through random posts you leave on LinkedIn, you can retain the comforting thought that you would be hired if only you put in the effort. In contrast, if you made full effort and no one hires you, you’d have to face having to aim for a lower-level job which would be blow to your ego and how people look at you.

Suggestion: Be realistic. The job that you’re seeking might be in an industry which might not be doing to well currently. Vacancies could be few and you might have to look for something you never saw yourself doing. Sure, your self-esteem will take a hit but you’ll then be able to redirect your job search to positions you’re more likely to land and to succeed it. Look at it as a time to take a step back, a time to grow, and perhaps ascend again. Do remember though that up or promotion isn’t the only way to success. Many people are happy in modest and less stressful positions.

Fear of letting people know you’re looking for work. If for years you held a good position and got retrenched while your peers are well-employed, it can feel embarrassing to let them know you’re looking for work. So you avoid the discomfort and don’t ask friends or colleagues for job leads. Alas, as everyone knows, friends and colleagues may be the best source of leads.

Suggestion: No need to scream out in desperation. You can say what the situation is eg I’ve been laid off and I’m looking for a job using my skills in (fill in the blank). I spent (how many years) in the (industry). Know anyone I should talk with? Anyone who responds negatively is someone who shouldn’t be on your friend list!

Fear of losing fun.  Who doesn’t like having the time to do things you couldn’t really do when you had a 9-6 job? Working would mean no staying out late, no getting up late, no coffee dates or lazing in front of the TV all day.  If you don’t look for a job, you don’t have to give those things up. And especially if someone else is supporting you, it can be tempting to make just enough effort to look for a job to convince your “supporter” that you’re looking.

Suggestion: A job, no matter how little it pays (but is enough to pay the bills) or how mundane it is can help your household income. Your family may try to make things as easy and comfortable for you while you’re in between jobs but even the most patient of human beings will have their limit. Yes, even your mum. Or your supportive sibling. Get out there and be a responsible person. Take a job that is honest and can use the skills you have, no matter how the title sounds.

Fear of getting another job at which you’re unhappy or unsuccessful. We’ve all been through a patch in our careers where you feel that you cannot get out of bed because you’ve started hating your job. You’ve not been happy on previous jobs and fear that if you land a job, you’ll simply be back again in that unpleasant situation.

Suggestion: Remember that interviews are not meant to be one way only. You are meant to ask your potential employer about what it’s like working in that company. Identify goals so you know you’re both on the same page when it comes to work deliverables. Go your interview early to take the time to absorb the office atmosphere and see how the people you would be working with, are. Do they seem engaged and content, or unhappy?

Fear of selling yourself. You believe that self-promotion is pushy. You believe that “Somehow I’ll get a good job without having to sell myself.” People will know who I am or where to find me.

Suggestion. Sure, sometimes opportunities just happen but why limit yourself to chance? While looking for a job, continue to learn and share your thoughts and experiences with your contacts and potential employers. Over-selling is not recommended. Just be honest in what you are capable of doing and the experience that you have.That honesty may lengthen your job search but you’ll feel better about the way you got the job and be more likely to land one at which you’ll be successful.

So are you ready to take your job hunt by the horns?

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