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Your personal brand: It's your life

A client recently came to me to ask for advice and counsel. He’d been through some difficult times with a former employer, having to replace himself with someone making half his salary as the company struggled to meet profit targets. Somewhat daunted by the experience, he now feels that it’s a waste of time applying to jobs sending his resume down the ‘black hole’ of online application systems. He’s appealing to me to assist him in getting him rehabilitated, finding him a place in this new turbulent world of employment.

Looking for a job in a crowd
Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

I’m a career coach, not a magician. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make those companies call people, or at least interview them with the respect they deserve. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Thinking about what you’ve been through doesn’t really help you to move to the next step. You really need to leave that behind, the pain, the rejection, the anger, before you can move onto that new opportunity.

Some months ago I saw a man speak about this very process, and although he was not a psychologist, he said that until you forgive everyone who has slighted you in some way during your career, you will not find that next opportunity. How many times have I interviewed people to hear their stories of rancor and injustice? I think it’s good to get it out, to vent; it’s a part of the healing process. But then you have to leave it behind and decide that there is something out there better. Once decided, you have to create your master plan as to how you will get there.

It’s certainly not just by putting in online applications, you have to network, and you have to do the hard work of knowing your local market and what skills might be needed. Which companies have interesting projects, and how can you fit into those plans? Come up with a solution to their problem by getting to know what keeps them up at night.

It seems so easy, but it is hard work, maybe it’s harder than sitting there feeling bad about yourself and the indignities you’ve suffered, but it is also much more proactive. When faced with two candidates, equally qualified, I’m going to choose the person who is thinking about how to help me solve my problems, not feeling sorry about what happened in their last job. I want to hire energy, enthusiasm, passion. So, I think you have to choose, it’s your life and your career. Put the past behind you and move forward. It may not be what you planned; it might be a whole lot more interesting.

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