Use “Beginner’s Mind” on your career

Wow, have the last 12 months been discouraging or what?

The pandemic has separated us from friends and family. We have increased screen time, been caught in endless online meetings, increased time pressure and in some cases, been bored, too. Just when you think there’s hope, you find out a close relative or friend has COVID. People have been pushed to the limit, stressed with worry, and just plain discouraged.

In a job search, it’s easy to get really discouraged. We keep doggedly doing the same things, over and over, hoping that finally some recruiter out there will give us a call. We spend hours and hours doing applications that go nowhere. We feel we can’t keep approaching the same friends and family members to help us generate job leads.

It may be time for “beginner’s mind.” This is a concept of Zen Buddhism called Shoshin. It refers to an attitude of openness, eagerness and lack of preconceptions. Beginners are eager because they don’t know what they don’t know. They are eager to try just about any tactic, because they have no preconceptions about what works, and what doesn’t.

What if you could approach your career change with a “beginner’s mind?” Here are some ways you might be able transform the experience:

1. Reach out in new ways. If Ruth Van Winkle woke up from a 40-year sleep and started a job search today, what tools would she use? The newspaper, the phone, and showing up in person. Think about that. How can you better use the news to guide your search? How can you use the phone to make a more personal connection with recruiters, hiring managers and connections? Call because very few people are doing it. It will put your resume on the top of the pile – even if the pile is an electronic file. Show up in person to present your resume. Sounds bold, but it will make you stand out among candidates.

2. Open up to a new job function. Consider the skills you have acquired, and start studying job descriptions you might not have considered before. Almost everyone sells as a part of their job. The Project Manager sells the team on getting the job done, in a certain timeframe with certain standards. The Customer Experience representative sells a solution to a customer. We’re all persuading. Is there another department where you could use those skills? Sales? Marketing? Business Development? A lot of us have a disinterest in sales, yet there are many consultative sales positions, with leads supplied, that net a good base salary and commissions. If you have the inclination to persuade, this could be a new, much more profitable world for you. In the same way, you could move to another function within your company and get a fresh start.

3. Open up to a new industry. Part of the thrill of a new job is learning. What if you consider a job in an industry to the side of your current one? Let’s say you sell learning software. What if you pursue a job with a learning or training mission? What if you have been managing home improvement projects? You might consider a few of the businesses you have been exposed to: home mortgages, building supplies, real estate and construction. By doing your job, you probably have experience in several side industries. Capitalize on your knowledge, even if it’s limited, and give yourself a fresh start.

4. Open up to your vendors’ and clients’ businesses. Think about the people your company hires for consulting or other services. Would you be happy doing what they do? You will find them strong allies when you are ready to quietly (and confidentially) think about new career options.

5. Quit looking for a job! Look for a great company. As you read the business press, pay attention to companies that have a mission or culture you can be excited about. Then, research them by looking at all the news stories for the last few years. Follow them on LinkedIn and find professionals inside the company who might be willing to connect with you. Go to their websites and search “careers.” (Usually in small print at the bottom of the Home Page.) Figure out how your skills could benefit their business.

Beginners often have “beginner’s luck,” probably because they are so focused on learning something new. I hope you have all the luck in the world pursuing these “beginners” ideas.

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Blog Categories: Career passion, job loss, job search, LinkedIn, networking, recruiters, corporate culture

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