Everything you didn't learn in school that will help you survive the world of work. A place for newbies, for working moms, for seasoned professionals and "free agents" to share strategies, tips and tales from the trenches.

Jan 15, 2010

What Color is Your Bucket?

Guest Blogger, Jay Hargis, Career Doctor and Blogger (HR Cleanup)

I do a lot of work with people who are out of work -- most of them involuntarily. I am always fascinated by the different ways people handle unemployment and I find that often, it has to do with severance. But sometimes, it has to do with attitude. Let me explain.

I think that job seekers fall into three different buckets. For the sake of this post, we'll call the three buckets Red, Yellow, and Green.

Red Bucket job seekers are panicked. They are convinced that they won't be able to find a job as good as their old job. They lament "the old days and the old gang." They have lots of Facebook friends and they update them regularly on each and every job possibility that comes along. They take their friends up...and then down...up and then down....up...well, you get it. Red Buckets also do a lousy job of informational interviewing. They expect other people to find jobs for them. They throw their resume at anyone who will look at it...and they say yes to everything.
"Have you ever designed a nuclear submarine?"
"Oh, yes, in college we built one as a project. I was the group leader."
They will eventually land. And, as they predicted, it won't be as good as their old job.

Yellow Bucket job seekers are caught in the middle and have a hard time understanding that they are unemployed and they need to get moving if they are going to find a new job. They fill their day by organizing closets, going to lunch with other unemployed friends, catching up on Target and Wal-Mart sales, and spending an hour a week on a Job Board so they can say that they are "looking but there is nothing out there."
"Informational Interviewing? Why would I do that? HR said they are not hiring."
Yellow Bucket job seekers are usually married to someone who is bringing in plenty of money or they got an amazing severance package because they were at their last employer for 20+ years. They will luck into something. But it won't be by design.

Green Bucket job seekers are the really fun ones. They see the experience as Opportunity. Green Bucket job seekers are the ones who are not quite sure what is coming next....they know that they are good at lots of different things and are excited to see where the trail leads them. When they have Informational Interviews, they are just that -- an exchange of information. They will meet with lots of interesting people who have interesting work at interesting companies. They won't appear panicked; they will appear confident. Sure they are nervous (as they should be) but deep down, they know that they will land a great job doing something that they find interesting and perhaps even compelling. It will come right when it is supposed to.

I like working with all three--they all need different kinds of service. However, I have to admit, that the Green Bucket folks always land the best jobs.

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