Job Search 101: A Game Plan for Workplace Success

When my mom first taught me the game I was still in high school. I got a C in Biology and she wasn’t having it. “You just gotta kiss his butt,” she said, as we left my first parent conference ever. I didn’t like the teacher and didn’t like the class, and mom was telling me I had to kiss his ass. Wtf?

As an adult, I get it. Mom was teaching my to play the game. In life you have to do what you have to do, so you can do what you want to do. If I wanted an A in that class, in addition to developing my talents and abilities, I had to make the teacher believe I was passionate about the course and wanted to do better. True or not.

I’ve carried this lesson with me and the rules apply to many aspects of life other than school. They also translate to workplace success. Consider these tips for playing the game to win in the workplace:

1. Learn the Game

In order to market yourself, you have to learn your natural talents and abilities and how they will translate to the workplace. There are career, interest, personality and learning surveys online free of cost. The qualifications listed for a position usually exceed the actual skills or training you need to do the job, but keep in mind the job market is competitive. You can take a refresher course in reading, writing or math at an adult school or a community college to refine your basic skills. You also need critical thinking skills to find and keep a job. An employer will expect you to generate new ideas, set and achieve goals, and organize and process information. At the foundation of workplace skills lie your personal qualities. Employers seek responsible, confident and sociable self-starters with integrity and honesty. Your job is to create a game plan that will showcase how your talents and abilities translate to workplace success.

2. Make a Game Plan

How we spend our time is largely a matter of habit. During childhood, we develop patterns of dealing with time that are likely to carry over into adulthood. The kid who never arrived to school on time becomes the adult who is late for appointments. The good news is that with time, we set new priorities in our lives. If you want a new job, don’t wait for it to happen, make it happen. Set a goal and manage time spent achieving it. If you spend months online looking for job and you haven’t gotten any interviews, you may consider networking strategies instead.

3. Get in the Game

Searching for a job can be frustrating, especially in today’s economy. You are not alone. Even the most well-educated and experienced applicants feel despair when they don’t get any leads. Rather than letting the work search control you, control your work search. Plan it out. Networking is rated the #1 strategy for seeking employment. Employers may be experts at whatever they do for a living, but that doesn’t mean they are experts in hiring. Employers like to hire people they know, so seek creative ways to meet people who are in the position to hire. You have to market yourself and convince an employer you are the right person for the job.

4. Step Your Game Up

Whether you desire better relationships, more money, improved health or a deeper understanding of your own natural talent, you can have it by changing the way you think. Saying statements about what you want as if you already have it increases the likelihood you will actually get it. Think about the lifestyle you want and affirm what your future will become. If you are truly honest with yourself, you will find that your behavior and attitude make a big difference as to whether or not you get what you want. How you respond to an event or situation is what determines the outcome.

5. Play By the Rules

Far too many workplace errors are cause by ineffective listening and speaking. Good communication comes from paying attention to actual words, how the words are spoken (tone, rate and volume) and non-verbal gestures (facial and body movement). Keep this in mind when you interact with a potential employer. Don’t talk too much, or interrupt the talker. Show you were listening by asking questions to make sure you understand what was said. Be sure to use forms of English that are appropriate in the given situation. Using slang or jargon may not be a good idea. Keep in mind your body language also communicates how attentively you listen. Poor posture or fidgeting may make the employer feel as if you are easily distracted or disinterested.

6. Cover All Bases

Finding a company who is looking for someone with your talents and abilities can be hard work. You have to be as organized and proceed as though you are selling a product – and the product is you. Gather as much information as you can about the companies you want to work for through networking, online publications, magazines and newspapers. Investigate to see if you know anyone who works there. Call the company to find out about their current openings, hiring procedures and contact information of the person who does the hiring. Once you make contact with a potential employer, be considerate of their time. Listen attentively, speak precisely and question for clarity. Focus on selling YOU!

Good luck!

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