What Do Job Seekers Really Control?

If you’re in the midst of a job hunt, you probably think a lot about all of the things that are out of your control. The fact is, you can’t control the job market, the employer or recruiter’s time schedule or behavior, the traffic on the way to the interview…The list goes on and on.

You can, however, manage your own reaction to all of it, which I think is a good lesson or reminder for anyone in the midst of a (sometimes frustrating and long) job search.

Penelope Trunk recently wrote about one thing that should be in every job seeker’s control: the importance of being kind and its impact on your career. She says:

Living up to your potential is not crossing off everything on your to do list on time, under budget. Or canonizing your ideas in a book deal. Really, no one cares. You are not on this earth to do that. Trust me. No one is. You are on this earth to be kind. That is your only potential.

…If you want to live up to your potential, be as nice as you can be. Be as respectful as you can be. Be as honest with yourself as you can be. Because you can’t be honest with other people if you are not honest with yourself.

One could argue if being kind is really the ultimate goal (feel free), but to me, the bigger picture is:

  1. “Soft” and social skills are key to every job seeker – seek and nurture them.
  2. Focusing on controlling what you can is empowering and helpful in the long run.

Brilliant people aren’t always the best decision makers or the best communicators, but communication and decision making are key to success at work and in life. It amazes me how often smart, well-educated people blow opportunities as a result of poor emotional intelligence. It is easy to underestimate the value of being driven by bigger goals (being kind…being connected).

Life gets in the way, and we excuse our less than stellar behavior because we are tired, or didn’t get a good parking spot, or missed our flight, or missed a deadline…This list goes on and on.

No matter what anyone tells us, there is little in life that is totally within our control. We rely on other people for so much of what we use to define “success.”

I am convinced that people who re-set their gauges to define success based on what they DO control (how they treat others, how they react to difficult situations) are much more likely to jump out of bed in the morning than those who allow others to set those standards.

Ready to take charge of your job hunt? Keppie Careers is here for you! Need a great resume? Some help to write the perfect cover letter? Write to me and visit www.keppiecareers.com for more about what services we provide.

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photo by andrewandlist2153

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2 Responses to “What Do Job Seekers Really Control?”


  1. 1 Georgina Taylor August 13, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    I really enjoyed this post, excellent advice! Keeping larger values such as kindness and compassion as a personal mission statement will ensure that all our actions are consistent with this overarching goal, and that with every action we’re living in line with who we want to be. 🙂 Beautifully explained!

  2. 2 Miriam Salpeter August 13, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    Georgina –
    Thank you for commenting. It would be nice if more people would re-focus their values and treat other people well.


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