Saturday, 28 July 2012

Head in the game

One of the hardest things that I have found about job hunting whilst not in employment is ensuring that I always maintain the right mental attitude, have my "head in the game".

When working, you are by default in "professional" mode, so should you receive a phone call from a recruitment agency, a headhunter or a potential employer, you tend to already be in the right frame of mind to respond appropriately.

However, when you are not working, and before that phone rings you have been slouching on the sofa, surfing the web, playing with the kids, or completing one of the numerous household tasks delegated to you by your wife, it can be difficult to make that instant transition into "work mode".

I have found that the most effective way of dealing with this mental disjoint is to defer the call. It is a simple tactic, that does not cause any issues for your caller, but gives you a tremendous advantage when compared to diving right into the call. Prepare yourself a selection of delaying phrases, such as:

"I am a little bit busy right now. Could you call me back in X minutes?"
"I am on my mobile. Could you call me on my landline instead. The number is..."

This gives you the time to mentally adjust, prepare yourself, and hence perform much more effectively when the call comes.

What you have to remember is that the person on the other end of the phone is unaware of your activities, does not know how keen / desperate you are to secure work, or know how busy / idle you currently are. You need to suppress any and all negative or inferior emotions from your head, and act in a thoroughly confident, professional and appropriate way.

By the way, I am not saying that this is easy - when any opportunity presents itself that may lead to re-employment, it is difficult to not act like a frisky puppy, and act super-keen, enthusiastic, and overly helpful. What you HAVE to recall - with your head in the game - is that the person on the end of the line is not only looking for passion (unless you are applying for a cast role at Disneyland). They will be mainly interested in your skills, your competencies, and for character traits such as gravitas, humility and self-awareness, all of which tend to be drowned out when you are too enthusiastic.

So, keep calm, be prepared, think clearly, and you will give yourself the best opportunity to succeed.

“The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.” 
Benjamin Disraeli

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