Approachability is about increasing the probability.
Of getting noticed.
Of getting remembered.
Of getting what matters most.
And for millions of people right now, that means getting and keeping a job.
According to this month’s report from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment has reached a staggering level of nine and half percent.
Fortunately, there is way to increase the probability of employment.
No, I’m not talking about bringing a handgun to your interview.
That doesn’t work. Just ask my ex-girlfriend.
The real secret is to make yourself more employable.
My name is Scott, and I’ve never had a real job.
I started my company the day I graduated college and never looked back.
But I have dedicated every waking hour of the past decade to experimenting, experiencing and educating on approachability.
And if you do it right, approachability converts into employability.
Tired of watching Law & Order reruns all day? Here’s part three (read part one here and part two here!) of a collection of employability skills to help you increase the probability of getting – and keeping – a job:
1. Grit trumps work. In a recent article in FastCompany, Dan & Chip Heath reveled that grit – that is, endurance in pursuit of long-term goals and an ability to persist in the face of adversity – is a key part of what makes people successful. The secret is to bolster grit by creating unacceptable consequences of failing.
When I first started my publishing company, I was living in my parents’ basement. Not exactly ideal conditions for building an enterprise. Ever tried to book a speech with your mom yelling downstairs to find out if you want asparagus with your salmon?
Two words: Dial tone.
But, that frustration grew into the source of my grit. And the motivation to persist became clear: Get the hell out of the basement. Only took two years, eight months and twenty-nine days. Where will your motivation come from?
Don’t abandon yourself during trying times. Adversity is exercise, obstacles are aphrodisiacs and suffering is sandpaper. Besides, I bet not every part of you has given up yet. Are you constantly formulating escape plans, or tunneling your way out one spoonful at a time?
2. Focus trumps knowledge. Any idiot can be smart. Employability is a function of your ability to focus your face off. That’s what companies want: People who know when to stop brainstorming and start executing. You don’t need another idea – you need an “I did.” In order to strain the impurities out of your life and free yourself to execute what matters most, two factors must be considered.
First, focus comes from deleting internal noise and discarding irrelevant work. Which isn’t about time management, getting things done or streamlining the quality of your process so you can maximize the efficiency of strategic productivity. It’s about creating a filter for your work. Do you have one?
Second, focus comes from the emotional environment of your workspace. And your challenge is to let people know – specifically – how you preferred to be praised. Because when you can count on the emotional release of consistent public recognition, focus will become a non-thought. What internal and external factors keep you from keeping focused?
3. Action trumps acquiescence. Demonstrating that you’re actively engaged in helping the organization succeed is a surefire way to retain employability. And while it’s not smart to develop a reputation for challenging everything, it is possible to rock the boat without sinking the ship. Here’s two ways to do so:
First, disagree openly. Good naturedly test the limits without alienating the people who matter. Use the phrase “I respectfully disagree” as a vocal hanger to command attention and prime people’s brains for your argument.
Second, be more challenging. Instead of nodding with unexamined enthusiasm, gently poke people’s assumptions in a way that encourages them to rethink their own solutions. Challenge unspecified attribution with phrases like “According to whom?” and “What evidence do you have to support that?”
Remember: Just because you have the right to remain silent doesn’t mean you should invoke it. When was the last time you took the risk to stand up and speak out for something you were passionate about?
4. Story trumps statistics. Numbers lie. And they can be manipulated to prove pretty much anything. On the other hand, if you position yourself as a compelling storyteller, it will be impossible to disagree with you. What’s more: Stories aren’t just remembered – they’re retold. And success in any organization is measured by the number of positive stories that are circulating about you.
But here’s the secret most experts won’t tell you: It’s not enough to tell the story – you have to stick the landing. Here’s how:
First, extract the universal human experience from the story so every listener can relate to it. Second, tell people what you learned from the story and how that lesson can make their lives better today. And third, drive home the actionability of the story by giving people simple instructions that make them think, “I believe this, I can do this and I’m willing to try this.”
All the statistics in the world won’t be able to contain your employability. Are you known as an employee who depends on numbers or commands with story?
5. Attitude trumps age. If you’re a newbie, here’s how to be taken seriously when you’re the youngest person in the room: First, stop taking yourself so seriously. Be strong enough to be simultaneously self-effacing and self-confident.
Second, identify opportunities for bold contrast. Develop your ability to deliver powerful perspective wrapped in a concise package, to the right people, at the right time.
Third, replace bitching with evidence. When you have a problem, complaint or issue, calmly present your issue to the powers that be in a quantitative, organized, legitimate and nuts and bolts fashion.
If you’re a veteran, try this: First, learn the new tricks that matter. Even if you’re an old dog, if there’s a new trick that counts – you still have to learn it. It has nothing to do with old age and everything to do with old thinking.
Second, don’t just get over yourself – stay over yourself. When you share a success story, use someone younger as an example. When share tell a mistake moment, use yourself as an example.
Finally, stop trying to manufacture commonality. Treat people as individuals to be cared for, not as labels to be related to. Are you leading with the rings around your trunk or the flavor inside your fruit?
REMEMBER: You can’t make anybody hire you.
What you can do is increase the probability of getting a job by making yourself more employable.
And you won’t even need a handgun.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How employable are you?
LET ME SUGGEST THIS…
For the list called, “37 Things Not To Do This Year,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor
Never the same speech twice.
Now booking for 2011-2012!
Watch The Nametag Guy in action here!