Planting Seeds — No Effort is Wasted

9 01 2009

tree2009-istock_000007693258small2A few weeks ago, a dear friend said, “I feel like a rat on a treadmill,” when describing her many calls, emails and meetings to find work. She felt she was working so hard, yet getting little or no return.

First of all, I asked her to dump that image immediately since it wasn’t a reflection of reality. She is a talented and incredible person, so the rat analogy couldn’t be further from the truth.

Instead, I told her to look at it as “planting seeds.”

When we think of our efforts as planting seeds, the picture changes.

If the current economy looks like a cold and barren field, shift your perspective to see it as promising soil that’s rich in nutrients and a solid foundation for roots to grow and plants to flourish.

And there’s no telling which seed (or action) is going to bring about the magic results! The goal is to plant a LOT of seeds. Water them regularly (that means that good follow up on your actions will help to make things happen).

Some seeds will sprout too early and get hit by frost, while others get nipped in the bud by wayward rabbits. Yet some seeds will sprout at the right time and grow to yield a healthy harvest.

But it’s important to remember that when you’re first planting those seeds, you never know which one is going to be the one that’ll bear the most fruit. That’s half the fun of it — and most of the frustration, too.

I’m not suggesting that that any action is a good action. Some things will be a good use of your time, while others may be a waste. Test out some new activities and see if they produce results. But even what seems like a waste turns into an excellent learning experience. There are many times I’ve told myself, “Well, I won’t do THAT again!”

It’s definitely worth focusing your efforts on a few key things you can give your best efforts, and where you can do good follow up. In the seed analogy, a farmer doesn’t mix up the seeds from different plant types and toss them around. There is careful thought in deciding which kind of plants go into which rows, and where the sunlight and drainage are appropriate for each type of plant.

The same goes for your job search efforts. It’s worth it to choose a few smart things you can do, and then do them regularly. Don’t lose hope when things don’t happen as quickly as you planned. Your hard work is bound to pay off in some unexpected ways!

During the upcoming months, I will ask the hiring experts in the KIT List community to share their advice and tips with job seekers through this blog. Also, job seekers can share their best techniques to help others find great work. This will help us all to figure out the best seeds to plant!

In the meantime, feel free to share your own ideas and tips in the Comments section so everyone can benefit. Thanks!

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16 responses

14 07 2010
Susan Monroe

My late mother used to say that it was better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. I think your wonderful post is very much in that spirit. Plant smart, but keep moving, and keep planting.

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12 07 2010
24 01 2009
David Irwin

I recall a statistic published last month, I forget where, that only 27% of newly laid off folks will find a new job in the following 90 days after lay off. So everything, and anything that can pull yourself into that 27% should be done. Not networking stone unturned. I am contacting people I haven’t spoken to in years. And that in itself is a side benefit, reconnecting.

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23 01 2009
Devans00

Thanks for your “keep your head up” message. It’s really quiet in terms of hearing from recruiters and hiring managers. So your advice is right on time.

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16 01 2009
Scott

The checklist: since looking for work is hardest work ever and seems to not be a happy time all my time and literally I am spending more hours looking for work than some of my worst crunch times at any company I have worked at including the US NAVY-I know there are service people out there defending my ability to do this and they are working and getting paid and fed and have a place to sleep;but they do Port and starboard watch section with a full work day-24/7(usually no full work day on Sunday);

I have found some things, that have improved my mood and helped me stay connected. Remembering civility of saying please and thank you and being remembered for it. Stopping and smelling the roses and smiling more. So I thought I would give back to the groups that has given me so much.

I have had a boon for the last 16 months ( a renewed contract, that may be coming to an end soon-Feb 1st); and it is time to dust off some things and I have already started-some have to wait-but I am organizing things in preparation for the eventuality that the contract will end.
Since I live in Santa Clara (North County) some is specific but some is for everyone.
Checklist:
Connect Center Badge.
A current version of UI benefits.
making my face familiar at ProMatch and Connect center and NOVA again. Refamiliarizing my self with public transit and time tables for SF if a quick interview comes up for there
rewriting my resume based on the requisition that got me hired here that is saved in my gmail. Pulling up my old resume version from Google Docs Text. Opening up my Spreadsheet with my job history dates/locations/references-sending a hello e-mail to them again that comes as a thank you. Sending off an e-mail to all my old ProMatchers, and my old contacts from the Catholic Church job hunting group (BTW I am not Catholic, but then I don’t need to be to be welcomed there.)
I am not a scrap booker- but I have one for my job search- I am rereading it. I had a day runner and an organizer and a log book; there was a lot of paperwork that I could get lost in.
I made my little space for work, and my e-mail log of contacts, and who got what when and what version. I am surprised it came back so easily, I think it might come back more easily if I do it before the panic sets in.

I think I blathered enough but that was a good days start.

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14 01 2009
Paul Carter

Sue,

Thanks for being a positive voice in a sea of negativity. As I am finding out during my time between jobs, it’s all about the attitude! I can be a rat on a treadmill (yuck!) or a terrific project manager who just happens to be out of work right now.

Two things still really bug me, though…

For one, I think companies’ H.R. departments should make an effort to at least throw a postcard in the mail to tell job applicants that they were not selected for an interview or whatever. They all say that they don’t have the time or the staff to respond to every applicant – Baloney! People aren’t cattle (or rats!). People deserve to at least be rejected with a little bit of dignity.

Secondly, I have never figured out how to effectively follow up on having sent a resume to an employer. What are you supposed to do, just call them and ask for an H.R. representative? When I have tried that, if I manage to get hold of someone at all, I always end up getting told that they’ll let me know if I’m selected for an interview (duh). What’s the point of that? They won’t let you speak with the hiring manager, for sure. And most job postings say that they won’t accept phone calls at all. Anyone have any ideas for how to effectively follow up?

Thanks!
Paul

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14 01 2009
Susan Monroe

Hey, Sue –

That was a wonderful post – positive, warm and heartfelt! Thought, planning and trying different approaches are all good things. Perhaps at the core of them is exposure. Years ago, I read an article on luck in one of those grocery store women’s magazines. The author’s position was that “lucky” people are those who get out and about. Stone introvert that I am, I didn’t pay it much attention. Yet the message has somehow stuck. I think we all do best when we get out and make connections. Onward and upward — and outward.

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10 01 2009
Salvatore Meola

Hi Sue,
I forgot to say thank you with my earlier post for your positive thoughts during this economic downturn and this blog space. Again I encourage everyone who is seeking employment that networking is the most successful tool to your next job. Use all the tools in your bag and you increase your opportunities.

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9 01 2009
Peggy Ruse

Sue,

Thanks so much for all your inspirational, hopeful postings…especially this one. I am seeking full time work in the nonprofit area after a number of years in Corporate America and as a marketing consultant with my own small business. Challenging times ahead all the way around. I read another post today from the HP Alumni group from a guy who is also looking for work and he said “Tell yourself you will get a job and you will.” Belief and hope along with action will hopefully do the trick. I would add that farmers sow a nutrient-rich seed (is it soybeans or sorghum or???) to revitalize the soil after they’ve harvested their crops. Even this type of seed bears “fruit” even if it is different and for a different purpose :-). Best, Peggy

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9 01 2009
Deb McClanahan

Sue,
To carry your analogy one step further, those seeds that grow most easily are usually things we call weeds. Growing the right plants takes extra effort (extra nutrients, the right amount of water and sunlight for the specific plant). That’s a way to look at the search for the right next job – give it that extra care and feeding as a way to distinguish yourself from the pack.

Especially in this kind of market, employers are looking for exactly what they think they need, that perfect person for the role. Grow yourself into that perfect person while you’re searching. Educate yourself on the employer’s business and specific issues in the downturn.

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9 01 2009
tomp

Sue – Thanks for being a positive voice in these stressful times! I’m optimistic that things will turn around for me and the community as a whole soon, it’s just tough to keep moving forward when all we see is bad news around us!
I took your advice and redoubled my efforts during the holidays. Although I haven’t heard back (yet!). Just getting those letters, networking, emails and calls accomplished was a small victory.
– Tom

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9 01 2009
Peter K.

Hi,

Well, having just recently been laid off, I’m just embarking on trying to figure what I want to do next. While I agree that it’s good to frame it as seeding opportunities, to me the hardest thing is actually weight completely different ways that I could go. The most straight forward thing, of course, is to just look to get another job in my field, which is what this post seems to be talking about mostly.But I’m also contemplating doing something completely different. While I have the means to do that (at least for the next year or so), the big this is what would I do after that. And that is the scary thing. Not knowing what I would next next if I take that path. It’s a huge leap into the unkown, and that makes it really hard to commit to it. It would be really helpful to learn about how people go about weighing those kinds of decisions.

Thanks,

Peter K.

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9 01 2009
Elaine Starling

Sue,

Great post! It’s important for people to realize that many of industry leaders today started during the Great Depression. Tough economic times are opportunities for innovation. The more specific you can be in guiding prospects to make smart decisions, the more clients you will have. Think of creating a Best Practices ebook about how to select a company like yours. I bet many of your prospects would find that information invaluable. And you’ll qualify them at the same time!

Elaine Starling
http://www.StarlingMedia.com

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9 01 2009
Keith Halperin

Hi Sue and Everybody:

If you are looking for a new position, here are links to a collection of job-hunting resources:
The Riley Guide (http://www.rileyguide.com/) and
Job-Hunt: (http://www.job-hunt.org/).

LEADS
Here are several hundred recent (within the past 30 days or so) non-administrative Bay Area recruiting positions.
You can change the search parameters to match your requirements.

CRAIGSLIST
http://sfbay.craigslist.org/search/hum?query=recruiting
http://sfbay.craigslist.org/search/hum?query=recruiter

INDEED
http://www.indeed.com/jobs?as_and=&as_phr=&as_any=&as_not=COORDINATOR+ASSISTANT+ADMINISTRATOR+NPI+PROCUREMENT+PURCHASING+BUYING+BUYER&as_ttl=RECRUITER+or+RECRUITING+or+STAFFING+or+TALENT+or+SOURCER+or+SOURCING+or+PLACEMENT&as_cmp=&jt=all&st=&radius=50&l=94065&fromage=any&limit=50&sort=date
Leads for Recruiter, Recruiting, Staffing, Talent, Sourcer, Sourcing, Placement

JOBSTER
http://www.jobster.com/find/US/jobs?city=Redwood+City&rpp=100&where=title&wor=RECRUITER+RECRUITING+STAFFING+TALENT+SOURCER+SOURCING+PLACEMENT&r=50&wnot=ADMINISTRATOR++agency++ASSISTANT++BUYER++BUYING++commission++contingency++COORDINATOR++NPI++PROCUREMENT++PURCHASING&d=28&s=t&state=CA
Leads for Recruiter, Recruiting, Staffing, Talent, Sourcer, Sourcing, Placement

SIMPLY HIRED
http://www.simplyhired.com/index.php?ds=sr&state=asf&within=&lv=&ncn=&mj=&aw=&ep=&ow=&ww=assistant+coordinator+administrator&jtl=recruiter&cn=&cy=&st=&z=94065&mi=50&mr=50&sb=date&jt=&we=&ed=&db=&rl=&rev=&ec=&ss=&submit_btn=search+jobs
Leads (Recruiter)

http://www.simplyhired.com/index.php?ds=sr&state=sr&mi=50&within=&lv=&ncn=&rl=&jt=&mj=&mjt=&db=&hci=&mr=50&ip=&op=&ed=&rev=&ec=&we=&fni=&sb=&q=title%3Arecruiting+-assistant+-coordinator+-administrator&l=+94065&submit_btn=search
Leads (Recruiting)

http://www.simplyhired.com/index.php?ds=sr&state=sr&mi=50&within=&lv=&ncn=&rl=&jt=&mj=&mjt=&db=&hci=&mr=50&ip=&op=&ed=&rev=&ec=&we=&fni=&sb=&q=title%3Astaffing+-assistant+-coordinator+-administrator&l=94065&submit_btn=search
Leads (Staffing)

http://www.simplyhired.com/index.php?ds=sr&state=sr&mi=50&within=&lv=&ncn=&rl=&jt=&mj=&mjt=&db=&hci=&mr=50&ip=&op=&ed=&rev=&ec=&we=&fni=&sb=&q=title%3Asourcer+-assistant+-coordinator+-administrator&l=94065&submit_btn=search
Leads (Sourcer)

http://www.simplyhired.com/index.php?ds=sr&state=sr&mi=50&within=&lv=&ncn=&rl=&jt=&mj=&mjt=&db=&hci=&mr=50&ip=&op=&ed=&rev=&ec=&we=&fni=&sb=&q=title%3Asourcing+-assistant+-coordinator+-administrator&l=94065&submit_btn=search
Leads (Sourcing)

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9 01 2009
Lee Garverick

Hi Sue,
What a great way to look at it. Thank you! This is no different than any other marketing or sales program, or any business venture for that matter – keep trying new ideas and building on what works.

-Lee

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9 01 2009
Salvatore Meola

Join http://www.linkedin.com if you are not already a member. Join as many groups that interest you. Pose discussion questions on the groups and/or answer questions. This will increase your network and your profile will typically be viewed by people in the group. LindedIn is a useful tool to network and find new employment. Networking is the key to finding a new opportunity.

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