The Psychology of the Career Search – Understanding Value

Some of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my life are those related to my understanding of value. In this post I’ll be taking a look at these lessons and how you can apply them to build a better life and a more fulfilling career.

1. You have inherent value and you control it.

Let’s start things off by examining your perception of your own value. Far too many people allow their value to be decided and controlled by other people. Here is something I want you to consider and take to heart. If I give you $10 and asked you how much it’s worth, you’d likely tell me it’s worth $10. If I then took that $10 bill and folded and creased it all up and asked you again, how much it’s worth, you’d still tell me $10. I could even take that $10 bill and draw all over it, spill coffee on it and put it on the ground and stomp on it and if I asked you how much it was worth, you’d still tell me it worth $10. So why is it that we are so quick to allow ourselves to be devalued by those around us or even worse, devalue ourselves? Much like the $10 bill in our example, you have inherent value and worth in this world and that value remains, regardless of how much money you have or don’t have and what your employment or current life situation is. Hold strong in your value.

2. Discover and clearly communicate the value you bring.

When you’re on the career hunt, one of the most important things for you to communicate to your potential new employer, is the value you bring. Value is not simply a list of your previous work experience and skills. Try taking a closer look at the impact you’ve had in your various work and life experiences and you’ll start to bring your value into focus. For myself, it took a bit of time to really see the common thread that tied my work, life and leadership experiences together. What I came to realize is that the value I bring is a gift for transforming people and organizations through learning, innovation and leadership. Your value proposition will be unique to you. Look closely at your life and work experience and see if you can spot any common themes that pop up. You can also ask your friends, family and colleagues to help you, as they can often see things that you may be blind to. Your success in the career hunt will improve significantly once you come to understand and believe in the value you have to offer and are able clearly articulate it.

3. Take the time to understand what you value.

When you are looking for your next dream job, you’ll want to get clear about what you are after and what you value. What gets you excited about your potential new employer and the role? Is it the amazing people and teams you’ll get to work with? Is it the impact you can make? Is it the kind of person you’d get to be while in this role? Perhaps it’s the cutting-edge technologies you’ll get to work with, or the opportunities for professional development? It could even be more practical things like flexible working hours or a shorter commute time. By getting clear about what you want and what you value, you’ll have a much greater chance of finding it, so invest the time and write it down.

4. Use your core values as a compass to help guide and show you the way.

As human beings, we are constantly presented with obstacles and challenges. There will be times in your life when you come to a fork in the road and need to make a decision. When you are lost in the woods, a compass can help show you the way. When we are feeling lost and uncertain about which direction to take in our life, our core values can act as our compass.  Everyone will have their own unique list of core values and It’s not about how many you have but about really understanding who you are as a person and what you strongly believe in and value.

My list of core values includes things like:

  • Respect
  • Trust
  • Empathy
  • Integrity
  • Humility
  • Impact
  • Courage
  • Creativity
  • Inclusion
  • Collaboration
  • Learning/Growth

When I come up against a situation or decision I need to make, I use my core values to help guide me to an answer that aligns with who I am. If you find yourself in a work or personal situation where your core values are routinely being run over or are severely out of alignment, this could be an indicator that this role, employer or person is not a good fit for you. Violating your core values will eventually wear you down and is not a good recipe for your long-term success and health. Try coming up with your own list of core values.

Rounding out this post I’d like to pass on a few TED talks I’ve found that may help you think more about value and provide more insight.

Find your dream job without ever looking at your resume | Laura Berman Fortgang

Know your worth, and then ask for it | Casey Brown

The Psychology of the Career Search – Your Perception of Time

Have you ever noticed that the process of job hunting and interviewing can feel painfully slow sometimes? In this post I’d like to talk about time and in particular, your own perception of time when you’re on the career hunt.

From experience, I can share that when you’re excited about a role that you’ve just applied for, it can seem like an eternity before you start to hear back. I call this “the lag” and it’s a common phenomenon you’ll encounter when you’re on the hunt. What this means is that you’ll need to get comfortable with a delay between the actions you take and the responses you get. Lags of 2-3 weeks or more are quite common, so don’t fret if you don’t hear back the day after you submit your resume for that dream job that just popped up.

Throughout the hiring process you’ll notice that time will occasionally feel like it passes by quickly and on other occasions it will feel like it’s moving glacially slow. If you look at the times when the process feels like it’s in the slow lane, you’ll likely see that more often then not, you are waiting for something to happen. Perhaps you’re waiting for the employer to reach out. Maybe you’re waiting to hear if you made it to a second or third round interview. And perhaps, you’re waiting for the final word on whether you got the job or not.

Some clues you may have slipped into waiting mode include …

  • You find yourself replaying your interviews answers over and over in your head
  • You’re distracted and unfocussed and can’t remember why you’re in the kitchen
  • You’re constantly checking your inbox
  • You heart jumps every time your phone rings
  • You’re not working on moving your other opportunities forward

Behind the scenes, there is likely a lot going on that you’re probably not seeing that unfortunately take time. This can include things like …

  • Sorting through all the applications to narrow down a pool of the top candidates
  • Trying to co-ordinate calendars so team members can all meet for an interview
  • Reference checks
  • Having team meetings to review and discuss interview results and select a final candidate
  • Making decision about benefits and compensation and putting together an offer
  • Dealing with internal changes, challenges and roadblocks that have come up

While time may seem to be moving slow on your end, it could seem to be moving quite quickly for the employer.

From your perspective, time will drag on while you are waiting to hear back. The real danger with taking a waiting approach is that you are not taking action and are surrendering your control.

While you can’t control what the employers is doing on their end, you can control what you are doing during on your end. You should continue to apply to new opportunities and keep actively interviewing. The company is likely interviewing multiple candidates so why shouldn’t you be checking out multiple potential employers? At the end of the day, would getting multiple job offers really be such a bad thing?

By not sitting still, you put yourself back in the driver’s seat. If the employer has realized what a great candidate you are, they will get back to you. Until they do, make sure you keep pushing forward. Remember, sharks keep swimming!