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  • Do You Have Your ‘Dream’ Job? Why Not?!

    When you got up Tuesday morning, after the long Memorial Day weekend, and started getting ready to head back to your job, what was your attitude? Were you raring to go, ready to get back to a job you love, doing the things you love? Or, were you like millions of other currently employed people who have come to absolutely dread returning to their jobs? In other words, can you honestly say that you now have your dream job, or not? And if not, why not?!

    There are few things in life that are more psychologically (and often, physically) draining than having to get up each and every work day and go to a job that you may have come to loathe, or at least one that you know, instinctively, is going absolutely nowhere. Yet that’s where MILLIONS of currently employed, very well-qualified and talented men and women find themselves today!

    Go and get your dream job

    It really doesn’t have to be that way! You can change the situation. You can indeed land your dream job, not merely continue to trudge along in the one you now have. But you must be willing to face—and then abruptly lose—any fears or misconceptions you may harbor about today’s turbulent job market. You’ll have to step out of your “comfort zone,” start branding yourself as a very desirable candidate, and then take a shot at grabbing the “golden ring”!

    I certainly understand why many people fear leaving their current jobs, no matter how bad these jobs may have become, to step out into the “great unknown” that seems to characterize much of today’s turbulent, somewhat unpredictable job market. Consider what noted motivational speaker and bestselling author Zig Ziglar had to say about this kind of irrational fear:

    “For most people, the fear of loss is greater than the desire for gain,” he said.

    Ziglar hits the nail right on the head here, as far as I’m concerned, and his astute observation goes a long way toward explaining why so many people will continue to put up with a mediocre, miserable, dead-end job—they are simply too afraid of losing what they now have, too paralyzed by inertia, to step out of their “comfort” zone and seek a much more fulfilling, satisfying job, their dream job! Many will just continue to whine and moan about how awful their current job is and never even attempt to reach out for the “golden ring.”

    “If you were unemployed . . .”

    As a “headhunter,” I am in the marketplace each and every business day calling potential candidates, most of whom are currently employed, for positions I am trying to fill for my business clients. Oftentimes, here is the initial response I get from these professionals:

    “No, thanks, I’m not looking for a job.”

    Fair enough, I tell them, and then I ask this question:

    “Knowing what you know now, if you were unemployed, would you interview for the job you currently have?”

    Most of the potential candidates are somewhat taken aback by my question, at least at first. Once they recover, some will say that, yes, they would indeed interview for their current position, if they were unemployed. Significant to note, however, is that at least one-half of the candidates, after pausing for further reflection, say that, no, they probably would not!

    It’s the people who say “no,” of course, whom I most want to reach and start them thinking about both their short-term and long-term career opportunities (or lack thereof) at their current job. Their “no” answer paves the way for me to then pose a number of other key questions about why, if their current job is not completely (or nearly completely) meeting their needs and desires, they nonetheless stay in that job.

    Here are the types of questions I ask these men and women:

    • Are you staying in your current job because you’re afraid to take the risk of finding a new one in today’s job market?
    • Is your current job really what you want to do for the remainder of your career? (Is this in fact your dream job?)
    • Are you staying because you need the income you earn at your current job?
    • Are you trapped by convenience, e.g., you don’t want to have to move the family to another locale, change schools or otherwise introduce temporary chaos into your professional and personal life, etc.
    • Are you staying because you feel your company “needs” you?
    • Would you feel guilty if you were to leave the company?

    I have found that, usually, one or more of the reasons implied in these questions account for why the overwhelming majority of these men and women stay in their current jobs, even though they are not finding them professionally fulfilling. Maybe one (or more) of these implications also accounts for why you stay in a job that you find somewhat less than professionally fulfilling, why you hesitate to reach out to find your DREAM job. If so, let me give you some of my thoughts about why such thinking can be extremely shortsighted and ultimately self-defeating.

    “There are no jobs ‘out there’”

    If you are fearful of venturing out into today’s job market, that fear is more than likely based upon an assumption (false, by the way) that “there aren’t any jobs ‘out there’,” and that you’re “lucky” to still have the one you currently have. If this is what you think, then you need to think again!

    As I pointed out in a recent blog (Avoid a ‘Take This Job and Shove It!’ Approach to Resigning), for the past 17 months, more than SEVEN MILLION jobs have been available each and every month. FOUR MILLION of these jobs are being filled each month, but THREE MILLION remain unfilled, month in and month out, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report. Plus, as I also pointed out in that blog, in the last couple of months, some TWO MILLION currently employed people left their jobs each month and took new ones—the highest job movement activity in a decade! So, there is plenty of “action” in today’s job market—for the right people!

    “I can’t afford a salary cut”

    Many employed people fear that they will have to take a salary cut if they move to a new job, and sometimes that may be the case, but it’s certainly not always the case. Whenever I get such a response from potential candidates, here is how I respond:

    “While money certainly is important, I think you would have to agree that it isn’t everything, either. So let’s put money aside for the moment. Assume you don’t have your current monetary obligations. Would you still do the job you’re in?”

    It’s important to keep in mind that salary is only part of a total compensation package. Increased or less-expensive benefits offered by a new employer, or a reduced cost of living at a new locale,  may very well offset any salary decrease that could be involved, for example. What’s more, the time to talk (or even to start seriously considering) total compensation is when you are actually offered a new position, not when you are still considering (or being considered for) the position. Hold off any reservations you may have about exploring a new career opportunity because of the initial salary being proffered. If you prove to be the right candidate for a position, believe me, a hiring manager can usually satisfactorily address many, if not most, of your lingering concerns, including salary.

    “I don’t want to uproot my family and move”

     No matter how much you may like the area where you now live and work, if your job is taking a daily toll on you, it is also safe to bet it’s taking an equally devastating toll on your family. If you’re consistently unhappy because of your job, you can bet they aren’t all that happy with their lives, either.

    “I’d feel like a ‘traitor’ if I left when I’m needed”

    Loyalty is certainly an admirable trait—when applied to family and true friends! When it comes to the company you work for, however, it is never more than a “one-way street,” and that street begins—and ends!—with you, not the company that employs you. No matter how long you’ve been with the company, no matter what contributions you may have made to its success, they can—and will!—“cut you loose” without more than a moment’s notice! Let me relate a recent incident to you that more than amply illustrates my point here.

    Not long ago I was recruiting for a regional sales manager’s position. The potential candidate I was talking to was then serving in a regional sales manager’s role, and when I asked him if he would have any interest in exploring the career opportunity I was presenting from one of his company’s competitors, here is what he told me:

    “I’ve been with my current company 12 years. I would feel disloyal if I even entertained the thought of interviewing for a job with our main competitor!”

    You probably guessed it. Three weeks later the candidate called me up and asked if the position was still open because he had just been laid off. (It wasn’t.)

    Make no mistake about it, this kind of thing happens with regularity each and every business day and it can happen to anyone—including you! Don’t even think about staying in a less-than-satisfactory job out of some misplaced sense of loyalty.

    How a circus elephant is trained

    The next time the circus comes to your town, walk around before the show and observe the elephants. Usually they are chained to a large metal stake pounded into the ground. Common sense would tell you that an animal as huge and as mighty as an elephant would have no difficulty whatsoever pulling up the stake and wandering off. And that would be true. Yet the elephants stay put.

    How do they do that?! Well, it’s simple. The animals are initially chained to an object that they can’t easily pull away from, e.g., the trunk of a huge tree, etc. And once the elephants have convinced themselves that, when chained to any object (including the huge metal stake), they have no choice but to stay in place, they soon no longer even try to pull away!

    Sound familiar? I hope so.

    If I have convinced you to at least consider the many career opportunities that may be open to you today, if you don’t now have your dream job, then I have accomplished my goal with this blog. You owe it to yourself, your family—to your own sanity!—to pursue what can become your dream job, and regardless of what you may believe, there really has never been a better time to do that than now!

    NOTE: Be watching for future blogs where I will tell you how you can brand yourself to take full advantage of the many career opportunities that may be available to you in today’s job market.


    Skip Freeman is the author of “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever! and is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The HTW Group (Hire to Win), an Atlanta, GA, Metropolitan Area Executive Search Firm. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired.

    Skip Freeman is the author of “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever! and is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The HTW Group (Hire to Win), an Atlanta, GA, Metropolitan Area Executive Search Firm. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired.

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