By Mark Bartz
My grandparents were farmers. They were immigrants, both born in what is now Germany. You can imagine being about three years old and coming to America where you speak no English, and you're about to be raised on a farm doing something that was alien to your father (he was a cabinet maker). You realize you are responsible for your own destiny. To achieve your goals, you'll need to do more than work hard. You'll need some sort of systematic plan and discipline you can follow.
We tend to forget the wisdom of those who came before us - we tend to be looking for the "newest," "latest" concepts to help us achieve our goals, in this case, our career goals. There was something I learned from my grandfather - we'll categorize this as forgotten yet timeless job search advice from the world of farming. Here's how to successfully raise a crop; notice the parallels to your job search:
1st: Pick a field to raise your crop in. I think most of my clients (I help people land roles in health care) do OK on this first step.
2nd: Prepare the soil. This is where nearly everyone fails. Imagine you are a farmer and want to raise a crop on a certain field, but you decide you will not prepare the field for planting seed - you will work on this whole "preparing of the soil" concept for a week or two and then decide if you want to continue. To be honest (and perhaps a little brutally frank), this is often what people do in their job searches. You have to prepare the soil - work at it nearly every day. Preparing the soil = building relationships with existing or "new" people who can help you in your job search. Most of these relationships you need in your job search will begin via a mutual acquaintance.
3rd: Plant the seed. Most people make the mistake of wanting to plant the seed before the soil is prepared; they are in a hurry to raise a crop. It doesn't work that way. To build a "real" relationship you must speak with people via phone and preferably in person. This is all about trust. You have "prepared the soil" by getting an introduction. No one says "Hello, my name is. . ." followed by "let's get married." Yet you'll find many people do the equivalent in their job searches.
4th: Nurture the crop as it comes up. I tell my clients if you do everything right - pick your field, prepare the soil, plant the seeds, you can expect a whole lot of nothing - for about 3 or 4 weeks. Then one day, as you are facing what you may feel to be the "daily grind" of farming, you stop in your tracks on the way to the field. My god - crops coming up . . . You nurture the crop that comes up, you keep nurturing the soil to develop the remaining crop.
Don't be surprised if only a few days later you wake up to something rather amazing and encouraging: the results you want in your job search. Results created by old farming wisdom. I miss my grandparents and their common sense wisdom.