As job seekers look for a new path in which to excel, we checked in with Alexandra Levit, author of "Blind Spots: The 10 Business Myths You Can't Afford to Believe on Your New Path to Success."
What are one or two business myths and how can they be debunked?
Here are two examples:
Overnight success is possible. Most people persevere for a long time and experience several setbacks before achieving an objective definition of success. You'll be best served if you are able to move your dream forward a little bit at a time, and are able to cope when things temporarily go south.
Being good at your job trumps everything. You can be the most talented employee your company has ever hired, but if your contributions aren't visible and people don't value what you do, it simply won't matter. So instead of slaving over your job, spend a little more time devising ways to promote the great work you're doing.
What is one myth about the job search?
I like the myth that there are certain times of the year that companies don't hire. If you adhered to every one of these slow periods, you'd never be doing anything to move your search ahead! The truth is that companies hire when positions open up, and that happens year-round. In fact, you might make more headway during the winter holidays because fewer people are applying and around to interview, so you'll have less competition.
What inspired you to write this book?
I was tired of reading silly theories and platitudes dispensed by business and career authors who sell their work by telling readers what they want to hear. I wanted my readers to have an alternative to overly provocative advice that hasn't worked for anyone I know, like "quit your job tomorrow and start your business the next day!"
How is it different than "job search" books?
This book doesn't focus on the mechanics of the job search...there are lots of good books already out there for that. Instead, it will help you hone positive traits like authenticity, perseverance, and self-awareness that are critical for success pre- and post-job offer.
How has the business landscape changed from a few years ago?
The recent recession has toppled and transformed our ideas about just about everything. Massive change is afoot and many of us are still reeling from the workforce bloodletting that began three years ago and the downfall of companies we thought we all respected. If we take the time to examine the world that's rising out of the ashes, we see that a major paradigm shift is occurring. We have realized that money and manipulation will only go so far. Inside the business world, organizations and individuals are looking inward and seeking a return to traditional human values like honesty, trust, moderation, open communication and one-on-one relationship building.
What does it take to succeed in this new values-driven environment?
Those who wish to be gainfully employed for the foreseeable future must take this transformation seriously and adapt new ways of doing things. Employers want to hire people with Puritan work ethics, people who want to do their jobs well without rocking the boat too much, and who are strong representatives of the organization's culture. If you want to get ahead in this values-driven environment, putting on blinders is not an option and you can't afford to waste time. You've got to throw out conventional wisdom and simplify your approach: Work hard, develop strong relationships, and stay out of trouble!
In what ways can people best leverage their mentors?
Make sure you define the relationship with each mentor. What do you want to accomplish and in what time frame? How often will you meet and how will the discussion progress? Spend the most time with mentors who have already succeeded at your level and can give you advice that will help you stay grounded and productive during this turbulent time.
What are the ramifications if people don't get clarity around these 10 blind spots? (i.e., not moving forward with their career, etc.)
You'll risk being at a standstill when the rest of the world is grabbing the available opportunities. And you'll make the same mistakes over and over because you haven't learned how to course-correct along the way, which will lead to frustration and unhappiness.
It seems that although people have lost their jobs, those with jobs should continue to stay focused and driven. What are one or two ways they can do that within an organization that may have a heavier workload due to a reduced headcount?
They should map their daily responsibilities to their long-term career goals so they can see the big picture of where their hectic workday is leading. And no matter how many assignments are on their plate, they should remember that work will always be there, and they should take time out for their personal relationships and interests. Being well-rounded and having balance is essential to keeping motivation strong on the job.
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