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The Now, The New & The Next in Careers

Encouraging and Wise Job Search Advice from the Navy Seals

07 May 2012 5:30 PM | Anonymous

By Mark Bartz

Occasionally you see television programs featuring Navy Seals training. I always wince a bit as I see these Seals in "hell week". Inevitably there is the scene of them in full gear on their backs along a shore in what is typically Southern California. That water is not remotely warm; I should know, as I'm from there. Seals (the animal version), children, and the occasional jaded person from Wisconsin visiting the area might tolerate that water, but no one else. You see the Navy Seals running, lifting logs, hauling their rafts, and competing in team events. And you begin to notice something not initially obvious: this is more of a mental "game" than anything else. The guys who wash out of the program are often in great physical shape; some of the guys who "make it" are actually hurt and in need of medical services, but they make it to the end of the course. There was a moment in one of these programs that really struck me. When asked the secret to completing hell week - to finishing the course, one soon-to-be seal said, without missing a beat: "Never look at what's coming next. If you do, it will overwhelm you. Concentrate on the moment. Do what you need to do right now."

How true that is when it comes to our job searches. I have been helping people (now for 15 years) in their job searches. And, like the Navy Seals program, I can tell you those who are my most successful candidates are the ones that don't get overwhelmed by life: they concentrate on the moment: they do what they need to do today, then they rest for the day. Which leads to a question: what is your specific quantifiable job search plan for this week? If I can give you my two cents worth here:

1) Aim for talking to 2 people over the phone who work for the employers you are targeting next. Conduct an informational interview with them. Get a warm referral to these folks; cold calling doesn't work much these days.

2) Concentrate on sending 10 completely personalized LinkedIn e-mails (called "inmails") to your network this week. Remember, it's not "who you know" but "who they know" and the world is a very small place. Your breakthrough interview is coming quickly, and this is the gold standard for getting it. Just checking in to say "Hello" beats not contacting them at all. I once had the nation's #1 sales person for Xerox calling on me in my corporate America days; he would call on a Friday just to say "Hello." I thought that was a bit odd at the time; now I realize that's one of the little things he did that his less successful peers did not do.

3) Connect with 2-3 new people on LinkedIn this week. When you do that, your handsome mug shows up front and center stage when your 1st level connections review their own LinkedIn e-mails. No better way to stay connected - and stay on your colleagues' "radar".

Those are your marching papers for the week. Now, concentrate on completing them. And whatever you do, don't think about what comes next; stay utterly focused on this task today and you will do fine.

P.S. They mentioned the water temp those Seals were training in: 62. I am eyeing the temp of my pool and realizing I won't go in until it's 86. Somewhere out there, Navy Seals, children, real seals, and people from Wisconsin are laughing at me. I tip my hat to you all.

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