Why job hunters need to harden up

Why job hunters need to harden up

It’s not really for me to say how anyone should or shouldn’t act in any given situation. But I do want to talk about being ‘tough’. Or more to the point, ‘resilient’.

Whether it’s when you’re looking for a job or doing your job, you’re going to need some serious mental toughness.

These days, more and more in the news I’m seeing people talk about being bullied. As someone who frequently had my face smashed in when I was at school, trust me, I’m no stranger to the concept. Except back then the word ‘bullying’ wasn’t really in fashion so it was just ‘boys being boys’. Or in my case the other boy being a boy, and me being a punching bag.

And hey, I’m not here to say bullying isn’t an issue. At school. In the workplace. All over. As is racism. Sexism. Age-ism. All sorts of isms. We can cry about it. We can campaign against it. We can, eventually, hopefully change it. But in the short term, what you need to do is deal with it.

Welcome to planet Earth

There will be times when you get knocked back for a job for absolutely no good reason. And possibly even a few bad ones. Welcome to life on planet Earth. As I often say, there’s a reason it’s not called ’Planet Fair’.

Many years ago, I had a client look at the TV script I’d slaved over, take his red pen out, and when I thought he was simply going to mark a few changes, he instead drew one big, diagonal line through the entire script and without a word pushed it back at me across the table. Brutal.

But I didn’t cry about it. I didn’t pack up my pencils and go home. I made it my mission to win that client over. And I did. Eventually. In fact, I ended up traveling around the world seven times in four years with that fashion client on ‘research trips’ to places like London and New York. Twice, he chartered a yacht to sail through the Greek Islands at the end often trip and asked if I wanted to come along? (Stupid question, right? And yes, it was awesome.)

I also won a stack of creative awards for work I created for that client. Bragging aside, there’s a lesson in there somewhere folks, If you can’t find it for yourself, I’m not going to waste my time pointing it out.

No matter how hard you have it, you have it easy

And right now, as I pen this blog, I’m sitting working in an office in Phnom Penh. You wanna see hardship? Come to Cambodia. Seriously. When your entire family have been killed and you have no access to decent food or water let alone education, and you still need to find a way to make a living and make your way through the world, let me know, yeah? (With sincerest apologies to anyone who has been in this situation.)

Now, don’t get me wrong, we all have our hardships. And this isn’t a hardship competition.

Whatever battle you’re fighting right now, I’m sure it’s real for you. Getting knocked back for a stack of jobs is tough. No one’s saying it isn’t. Getting overlooked for a promotion sucks the big one. Having ignorant, idiotic, know-it-all clients tell you your work is no good, is never the highlight of my day either. (I got that email yesterday, so speaking from experience there. No names mentioned.)

Job hunters: it’s time to take a teaspoon of cement

What I can tell you is it’s at times like these, and many more, that you need to really dig deep. It’s time likes these you need to take a teaspoon of cement, and harden up. Build a bridge and get over it. But enough of the cliches. I can’t really tell you how to be resilient, you’ll have to learn that one on your own. And chances are you’ll get plenty of opportunities to practise. Hopefully you’ll get better at it as you go.

The bottom line is there are always going to be times you have to put up with shit you don’t like. Get used to it.

Yes, I know if you’re in the younger generation, you may well have grown up with sport where no one keeps score and no one loses so you didn’t have your feelings hurt. Well, news flash people: that’s not real life. In real life, people keep score. And people lose. You don’t get to cry about it when things aren’t fair.

Forget the ‘Pity Parties’

Like when you’re job hunting. Every time you get knocked back you can throw your own pity party, bust out the Kleenex and cry yourself to sleep at night. Or you can dust yourself off, zip up the man suit, (or woman suit — no gender bias intended), and get the hell on with it. Because in life there are winners and losers. And let me give you the big tip. Winners rarely sook. And winners, by definition, never give up. Ever.

So don’t be a loser. And don’t give up. Ever*.

*NOTE: There is a difference between a tactical retreat and outright surrender. Sometimes, it’s OK to take a break and regroup. It’s just a battle, not the war. And yes, for all my bravado, I’ve retreated many times.


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