Working with Uncertainty in Your Job Search

There are things that are, and are not in your control.

If it is not in your control, you want to let it go and, as much as possible, not waste your mind's energy and focus on it.

And if it is in your control, you'd want to do all you can to make sure you master it to the best of your capabilities or have a process to deal with it effectively.

It is helpful to distinguish between the 4 dimensions of knowledge:

  • What you know that you know (The Known Knowns)

  • What you know that you don’t know (The Known Unknowns)

  • What you don’t know that you know (The Unknown Knowns)

  • And what you don’t know that you don’t know (The Unknown Unknowns)

Sounds complicated? It doesn't have to be! Let’s look at those one at time:

Known Knowns (what you know that you know) – Can control now

  • Your Experience – You want to know how to talk about your experience in a way that gives you justice and connects with others (use storytelling to structure your thoughts).

  • Your Skills – Make sure that you are highlighting the skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for.

  • Your Short- & Long-term priorities – You want to have clarity about where you want to be now, and a few years ahead, to have a meaningful plan and purposefulness to your actions.

  • How much time you’ve got in your day – Organise your day so that you have as much uninterrupted focus as possible.

  • Your past history: how you behave & react to life’s events – You know what sort of things make you feel good, bad, positive, negative. And you want to make sure that you’re feeling at ease when you’re networking & interviewing (I will be talking more about this during my webinars).

Known Unknowns (what you know that you don’t know) – Likely cannot control

  • Other people’s reactions & perceptions – You want to do your best when preparing your CV, LinkedIn profile, interviews etc. And while you do want to make them as “perfect” as you can, sometimes it is up to luck, and how other people perceive things in that moment.

  • Companies’ culture & hiring processes – You may be a perfect candidate and have the best preparation, but the company loses your application, doesn’t have the staff to process all the applications or has to put hiring on freeze. That's where it's important to have a plan and structure to your search to have several opportunities lined up.

  • External circumstances such as weather, transport delays – Emergencies happen, transport delays, storms, (even!) global pandemics happen, you cannot control this but you can reliably expect that at some point this will happen, and have contingency plans ready (or the serenity to accept that it just happens).

Unknown Knowns (what you don’t know that you know) – It’s there, but you may need some help to get to it

  • Your actual potential – Who knows what you’re actually “destined” for? You probably have that feeling deep inside, or maybe not – either way, that’s fine. There’s no such thing as “the right way to live” as long as you’re happy with where you are. What we do know is that many people don’t live to their true potential (and it doesn’t have to be that way).

  • The ways you affect others’ lives – there are possibly a few people who are rather annoyed by your presence (and that’s fine). The majority doesn’t care (and that’s fine). And there are some people who feel absolutely blessed to have you in their lives (and may, or may not, realise that; and may, or may not, be very good at expressing that)

  • What others think of you – people’s perceptions differ, and that is fine. Learn the skill of asking for feedback to gain a better understanding. And the most challenging bit – learn to not take feedback (too) personally.

Unknown Unknowns (what you don’t know that you don’t know)

  • What you may be doing wrong without realising it – let’s say your goal is to find a new fulfilling job. You’ve read all the advice that you could find on the Internet, asked a few friends and maybe even a professional recruiter to look at your CV and LinkedIn profile, but you’re still not getting the results. Is it a question of “Should I just persevere?”, or is it time to try something else and understand what you may be doing wrong?

  • What you could be doing differently to advance faster – I once asked one of my 1on1 coaching clients what’s been the most helpful thing about working with me: the response was that it’s about knowing what they’ve been doing wrong in their job search and setting the course right quickly, to stop wasting time and have a system to better Plan, Prepare and Perform.

To sum up:

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