In this exclusive extract from her new book, How To Get A Job, Sidekicks founder Jessica Williams explains why learning to value yourself is the fundamental first step to success in your job hunt.
Job hunting is a funny thing. When you think about it, the average job hunter is essentially just approaching other humans and offering to sell blocks of their time to them, in order to help them achieve their own professional goals. At its very heart, job hunting is the process of matching yourself with the person or entity that will put the most value on your time.
You must, therefore, start by realising that you aren’t simply looking for a job: you’re selling yourself. And that’s fine! You’re not ‘selling out’ by looking for someone to sell your time to: you’re making a conscious decision to market your own skills and time, and you are firmly in control of the process.
As with anything in life, however, the unconscious perception of others as to the value of what you are selling is directly dictated by the conscious perception of the person selling. That means, put simply, that in order to be really successful in your job search, you will need to value yourself.
A NOTE ON SELF-WORTH
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
If you are going to commit to the process of selling your time and your skills to prospective employers, you must first ensure that you understand your own value. If you don’t believe that you’re good enough for the job you want, nobody else will believe it either! It sounds simple, but it’s true, and it’s the critical first step in your successful job search.
In my capacity as the founder of Sidekicks, I spend a lot of time with people who need to work on their self-esteem before we put them forward for roles. In many cases, a person’s skills might be great and their CV look fantastic – but no amount of work on the ‘peripherals’ will detract from the negative impression a prospective employer gains from a candidate who simply doesn’t believe that they are good enough to do the job.
A large part of our work as recruiters is making sure that our candidates truly understand how valuable they are, and that they feel confident in their own abilities.
Self-esteem is the absolute building block of your job search: the type of job you end up with, the amount it pays you, and your enjoyment of your work will all be directly linked to your self-worth, and level of self-belief.
WHAT IF I COME ACROSS AS ARROGANT?
“Being confident and believing in your own self worth is necessary to achieving your potential.”
– Sheryl Sandberg
There is a world of difference between quiet self-confidence and arrogance. The former is worn lightly and is the result of faith in your own abilities, and confidence in your right to be paid well for your time. The latter is shouted from the rooftops and is often created from a misplaced sense of entitlement.
I am certainly not advocating arrogance, particularly if you’re at the beginning of your career. It’s very important to listen to other people, ask for advice and thank them for their time: a little humility will go a very long way indeed in terms of the goodwill it generates. Just please make sure that you have faith in your own worth, in your own right to be successful.
PERMIT YOURSELF PROFESSIONAL RESPECT
“Have faith in your abilities!
Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”
– Norman Vincent Peale
Your journey to healthy self-esteem might not happen instantly. It’s a journey! Would you expect to pick up a dumbbell once and magically have rippling biceps? Of course not. So, don’t be discouraged if your self-esteem doesn’t solidify overnight. Thought patterns are habitual – just like muscles, it takes repeated exercise to develop new ones. Whilst you’re beginning to dust off and flex your self-esteem muscle, there is a helpful truth that I’d like you to keep in the back of your mind: that it’s absolutely possible to respect yourself professionally whilst you’re in the process of building up your self-esteem.
How do you speak to yourself in your head? Would you speak to a colleague at work like that? If not – it’s not an acceptable way to speak to yourself. Your job search is about committing to focusing on your professional life – and that means respecting yourself as a professional. Try to build up the professional respect muscle by recalling times you felt proud at work, or at school, or at college. Because that’s the brilliant thing about work! Work doesn’t care what you weigh. Work doesn’t care if your flat is a mess. Work doesn’t care if you’re a terrible cook, or if your love life is a disaster. Take pride in your work and value yourself as a professional with a set of skills and an aptitude for hard work. That’s employer gold dust – and you should be really proud of yourself for that.
ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING
“If you don’t like something, change it.
If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
– Maya Angelou
I had a relatively easy childhood and a great home life. I am so grateful for that and I am fully aware of how lucky I am. One of the things my childhood taught me is that attitude is everything, and there are always two ways of looking at everything you encounter in life. This might not seem directly relevant to your job search, but please bear with me – it very much is.
I meet a lot of people in my job. One of the interesting things about being a recruiter is that you find out an awful lot about the person you’re working with, in a very short space of time. I think that myself and my team have seen and heard pretty much everything in that initial hour-long interview: tears, regret, happiness, fear.
“Work doesn’t care what you weigh. Work doesn’t care if your flat is a mess. Work doesn’t care if you’re a terrible cook, or if your love life is a disaster!”Jessica Williams
One thing that crops up time and time again is the fundamental difference in attitude that tends to have a marked impact on whether a job-seeker is successful, or not. For example, read this person’s story:
“I’m 25 years old. I’m really struggling to find work, because my CV is skippy…I hated school, my dad wasn’t around and it was really hard. We moved around a lot and I was bullied, so my grades were really bad. I couldn’t go to University because I didn’t have any help from my teachers and my mum didn’t have the money. I left school at sixteen and fell in with a bad group of friends.
I had a few jobs but couldn’t seem to hold anything down. They were all really boring and I was barely being paid anything. When I moved to London, I thought I’d try again but I still haven’t had any luck finding anything. I’ve had loads of interviews but nobody will give me a chance. I just need a break.”
Now, read this person’s story:
“I’m 25 years old. I’m currently looking to gain experience in PR and I’m willing to take on any work that will give me exposure to the industry. I wasn’t overly academic at school – my family moved around a fair bit, which did impact my grades slightly. However, it also taught me flexibility, self-reliance, and the ability to adapt to new environments.
I decided not to go to University, as I was keen to get stuck into work, and gained experience in a range of hospitality jobs before making the decision to move to London to start my career. I’m keen to work in PR because I believe that my skills (creative writing, brand awareness and social media) are relevant. I am tenacious, self-motivated and determined to add value quickly to the company that hires me.”
You’ve guessed it. It’s the same person! The first was taken (with permission) from notes I made during an initial phone call with a job seeker.
The second was put together by the same job seeker after our meeting. She had been job-hunting unsuccessfully for seven months, and was hired two weeks after our meeting. This isn’t because I gave her any sort of magical advice – I didn’t even change her CV because it was great as it was – I just gently coached her to see that there might be another perspective on her current situation, that it was a huge opportunity to be happy, rather than an ordeal to be tolerated.
So, you see – there are two ways of presenting every situation, and switching perspective got this person two very different sets of results.
At this point, you might be thinking that it’s very easy for someone who owns a business to tell you that attitude is important. It’s easy, you might think, to have a great attitude towards your work when you’re being paid to do what you love! However, please understand that it wasn’t always like this for me. I had my fair share of jobs I found difficult at the time, but I was lucky enough to have people around me who taught me that there are always two ways of looking at every situation: and that every negative can be turned into a positive, if you set your mind to it.
Even if it’s not the type of job you want long term, decide upon the job you want right now – understand why you want it, and what you’re gong to get from it – and then go for it. You’ll be amazed at what happens.
Click here to read more about How To Get A Job and the author.
How To Get A Job is available for Sidekicks candidates to download for free through Kindle Unlimited, here.