One of the most intimidating concepts a new job seeker encounters is the idea that they have to be aggressive about the process: they have to be a job hunter. But older workers looking to get hired or start businesses have an unsung advantage that actually turns this paradigm on its head.
We are all too familiar with the notion that getting a job is a predatory process, and that we have to be assertive salespeople if we want to get another job. It’s easy to become fearful and discouraged when we hear about other people being out of work for extended periods of time. We think that will be our experience as well. For those of us who tend to be on the shy side as a job seeker, the idea of selling ourselves can make us want to go back to bed and lift the covers over our head.
Julie Murphy, a successful mindfulness coach and corporate trainer who I profile in my book, Boomer Reinvention: How to Create Your Dream Career Over 50, felt very intimidated when she left her corporate career to pursue her dream of being a mindfulness coach. Although she trained as a lawyer and spent decades in the corporate world in high-profile, high-stress positions, she never thought of herself as a “type-A” personality. In fact, she clung to the corporate world in the belief that she was not cut out for an entrepreneurial life as a solo practitioner – this despite the fact that everyone else in her family either worked as a solopreneur or a small business owner.
When she finally cut the cord and went out on her own, she braced herself for what she imagined as an uncomfortable process of selling herself. She thought she would have to turn into a job hunter. That was until she met a woman in a similar field who took Julie under her wing and explained that there is another way job and client seekers can look at the process. Rather than being a “hunter,” she invited Julie to think of herself as a “magnet.”
This simple reframe changed Julie’s life. As a magnet, all she needed to do was to share herself and her solutions with the world, and let the world decide whether or not to hire her.The idea of being a magnet is really only possible at this later age, when we have built up significant experience in life, and when our wisdom is naturally sought-out by others. It’s something that we can lose sight of – particularly when faced by so much perceived ageism in the work place. But while ageism may be a factor in a “job hunter” scenario, where we are petitioning an employer to “please hire me,” I don’t believe that it plays the same level of influence in a “job magnet” scenario where an employer or a client is seeking you out because of the particular service you provide, and the reputation and/or social proof that you have earned.
As a magnet, people gravitate to you to learn more, and ask you to help them integrate your solutions into their businesses. This was a liberating realization for Julie, who realized that there was no secret, unattainable sales formula for acquiring clients. All she had to do was engage on a level where she was already comfortable, knowledgeable and enthusiastic – as a solution provider and a thought leader. She welcomed this approach as more natural for her, and more compatible with her philosophy and way of life. And the results have been excellent. In the first two years of her new mindfulness consulting practice, Julie has become a sought-after trainer and coach, working for individuals and companies both in the U.S. and overseas.
One of the dangers of growing older is that we get more complacent. Over time we become more and more convinced that our status quo is set in stone, and the way things used to be are the way they are destined to be. We never question our beliefs. We never question the past. We never update our assessments of our selves.
A simple conceptual reframe, turning something that’s perceived as a negative and out of reach into something positive that feels eminently do-able, can be a liberating and inspiring experience.
Take a look at an area in your life where you’re stuck right now and apply this reframing exercise: define this sticking point, and the key aspect or obstacle that you see as standing in your way. Then use your creative imagination to reframe it, re-conceive it in a way that eliminates the block, reverses the flow, or somehow puts you back in charge of the process.
Share your experience!