A good business friend of mine loves to reference a scene from the movie “The Mexican” where Julia Roberts screams from the window to Brad Pitt, “It’s all about you!”
When in a job search it is human nature to not only feel it is all about us, but feel the urgency to make it work for us now. Although there are millions of people unemployed everyone’s specific circumstances are different. Therefore, we feel as if our situation is unique and because of its uniqueness, it must be resolved immediately.
When we face any challenge in our life it is very natural from a human behavior perspective to lock in on the challenge, almost with tunnel vision. Every waking minute is used thinking about this challenge accompanied by a long list of emotions leaving us with only one constant thought: We must do something as quick as possible to remove this pain and frustration of being unemployed.
Our reaction to all of this frantic and complex mental energy and exertion is the desire to overcome this problem immediately. We set out as good students to learn everything we can, diagnosing the issue in hopes of quickly coming to a resolution. During this activity we become sponges, soaking up every bit of information and ideas from everyone and everywhere. We hope to be able to condense the information and put together the right formula to instantly land that job offer. Our urgency and push is to be relieved of the anxiety, stress and frustration that goes with being unemployed.
In our haste to gather this information, we may forget the very fundamental principles involved in building long lasting personal relationships, confidence, gratitude, appreciation, the power of putting others first:
Pay it forward, and Thank You backward.
Most everyone has heard of the concept of paying it forward. Paying it forward is in essence, passing on the good deed someone did for you. You in turn now do a favor for someone else. This method is never more important than when in a job search. Why? Because just as I alluded to earlier, becoming self-focused is extremely natural when in a job search and it can work severely to your disadvantage. For most people, there is nothing more important that landing a job for all of the obvious reasons.
However, the more you focus on yourself, the less you may focus on others. Often one of the biggest mistakes job seekers makes is to be so immersed in their own plight that they lose interest in helping those around them, paying it forward and saying thank you backward.
Yet, there actually is a magical result that occurs when we focus our attention on others. Why? When we focus our attention on others, and truly seek to find ways to help them, we not only feel great in the process, but our self-esteem rises as we recognize our value in the world. This increase is self-esteem and self-confidence is not lost in helping someone. We carry that self-confidence into our next meeting with a new connection, the next email we send, the next smile and handshake we deliver and of course, in our next interview. In addition, paying it forward opens you up to receive, yes, receive, because when you give help you will find more help will come to you. Hoarding actually by its nature is that of constriction and contradiction – the exact opposite effect you might have attempted to generate.
At the same time, a thank you backward – thanking someone who helped you so you can then pay it forward on to someone else is just as vital in a job search process. You again recognize and are grateful for someone taking the time to help you. Be absolutely sure you follow up with an email or even a phone call specifically thanking that person for any help or support you were provided. If you met in person, did you buy your new networking connection a cup of coffee? If they paid for yours, take the time to mail them a gift card as a special way to thank them for taking the time out of their busy schedule to help you. Do you think you will be remembered?
Taking the time out of your busy search to specifically thank someone who might have taken the time to send you an email checking on you, providing emotional support or describing recommendations is just the right thing to do. Taking the time to say thank you says much about you, that this job search is not “All about you”. Paying it forward is important, but when you say thank you to someone in words or actions, it is perceived as something special by the recipient. Saying or taking action to provide a thank you demonstrates your character.
One of the unique benefits of a job search is the wonderful people met along the way. Some of these relationships will last many years, and continue to provide support and assistance in many ways. As you radiate the real you in all directions, more people will see your value. Your value is seen at its best when you pay it forward and thank you backward.