The Bill of Wrongs

This article was originally published here

Every school kid in America learns about the Bill of Rights. It is both a part of our heritage and a synopsis of our values, of what is enduring about this nation called the United States of America. It’s an important lesson, to be sure, but only half of what they need to know. To be successful as adults–to survive and prosper in the workplace–they should also be taught the Bill of Wrongs.

If there were such a document, it would codify and correct our misperceptions. It would make clear what we think we know but all too often don’t about the pursuit of Happiness in this country. It would be a bill of particulars that would redress the harm people do to themselves by misunderstanding the true nature of an effective job search campaign and a healthy and rewarding career. What follows, then, is the first five articles in my Bill of Wrongs for working men and women in the United States of America.

Article 1. You can apply for any great job you would like, but you are not guaranteed that job no matter how much you think you deserve it or how right you think you are for it. In today’s workplace, an employer’s decision to offer you a job is based on both your competency in performing the job’s responsibilities and your ability to communicate that competency persuasively. If either factor is missing, you are not qualified—at least from the employer’s perspective—and that’s the only perspective that counts.

Article 2. You can have a fulfilling and rewarding career even in today’s constantly morphing economy, but that success does not come without a commensurate investment by you. Accomplishment at work demands your best effort all of the time, not when it’s convenient or can be squeezed in around your social and other activities. In today’s highly competitive job market, you must commit the time and effort required to both keep your skills at the state-of-the-art and keep an eye on the future prospects of your career field. If you’re the best buggy whip maker in the world, but the world has turned to autos for transportation, your prospects at work are likely to be as dim as if you were a mediocre maker of whips.

Article 3 . You can find a great job using traditional job search methods, but you cannot tap the full range of employment opportunities for which you are qualified and deserve to be considered if you don’t know how to use the Web. Job search online, however, involves more than a facility with the Internet and work-related functionalities (e.g., using search engines, accessing and parsing online databases). There is a body of knowledge and a set of skills associated with using the Web effectively for job search, and both must be acquired and used regularly if you are to achieve any sustained level of success.

Article 4. You can find a great job on the Web, but you cannot tap the full range of employment opportunities for which you are qualified and deserve to be considered if you don’t also use traditional job search methods. According to the latest research, about one-third of all job seekers will find their next job online. That means at least two-thirds will not. Therefore, to give yourself a reasonable shot at landing that dream job you’ve always wanted, you must take full advantage of the Web and of print publications (no matter how old fashioned you may think them to be) and the other real world venues that will connect you with employers and their open positions.

Article 5. You can do everything you should to find a new or better job, but it may still take longer and be more frustrating than you would like. Unfortunately, the Declaration of Independence promises us “the pursuit of Happiness” not its actual achievement or even its achievement on a time table that meshes with our needs and goals. It’s a much overused metaphor, but it’s also true: conducting a job search campaign is the hardest job you will ever have. Not only should you prepare yourself accordingly, but you should also take the time to prepare your spouse or partner and your family. Why? Because your search for a new or better job is likely to be one of the most difficult experiences they will ever have, as well.

Thanks for reading,

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