Ready for your career search?

Searching for a job is hard work. Recently, a good friend of mine began his search after teaching and coaching high school football for a couple of years. However, he recently mentioned his interest in the business world and has officially kicked off his journey.

However, watching him the past week has opened some doors that I nearly forgot since my last job search. When you are not the one career searching, it is easy to neglect the complexity and frustration of those long nights sending emails and researching companies. It is easy to forget (possibly on purpose) that feeling of rejection and a lack of self-worth that can alter your daily attitude and strategy for finding the right fit. Like I said, it is hard work.

Recently, my friend applied and interviewed for his first job. When speaking with him, he echoed several of the same statements I said when my search first began back in 2012.

"I just really want a job."

"I really want to do what _____ does."

"I'm not nervous for my interview at all. I'm ready for it."

As I began to dig deeper into his psyche and feelings regarding his first interview, I quickly noticed a few similarities between our searches.

First, my friend really did not understand the company he was applying for. He asked what types of questions should be asked and for some sound advice, but I never got the feeling he really knew what that company had accomplished throughout the years. Sure, knowing your day-to-day before starting is difficult, but having a basic understanding of the roles and growth opportunities is so essential in that first interview.

Second, it seemed as if my friend followed the "same old, same old" approach and did not really dig deep into his questions. What so many don't realize as they are searching (myself included) is that this is your life. What questions do you want to ask your potential employer?

What kind of environment are you looking for? Why should you work here? As time progressed in his interview process, I began to think my buddy would not get the job. I hate to say that, but after 12-15 interview rejections throughout my 26 years, I had been down the same road so many times.

After his final interview, I had a hunch that this company's answer might not be the one my friend desired.

He struggled with the "Why sales?" question and I knew this was a red flag. Our group informed him to prepare accordingly, but he never provided a great answer for this question. It stuck out to me because I went through the exact same situation a few years ago.

During one of my interviews for an outside sales position, one of the sales manager asked me a question I would never forget. The interview started off promising and things were going well until he asked me,

Why do you want to work in sales?

My answer started with,

"Well, my dad worked in sales and I believe that I can too."

I will never forget his next question.

"That's great. But, do you want to work in sales?"

For the first time in months, I was completely silent. I truly did not know what to say. Finally, after what seemed like a year of silence, I replied,

"I'm not sure that I do."

I was proud of myself. A year earlier, I would have made up some BS answer and stretched the truth. Maybe it is part of being young or not being a great interviewee, but that answer never would have come out of my mouth without some experience. We ended up chatting for quite some time after that and the interview ended on a positive note. Thinking back on it, maybe that sales manager was supposed to ask that question at that time in my life. If he could sense it, then what was I thinking?

For so long, I had answered the standard questions with standard answers, while expecting some crazy, different results in my life. I had worked in direct sales once after college and it was not a great experience. I learned a vast amount and met some amazing people, but I never really enjoyed my day-to-day there. So, what was I really trying to prove? That I could be like my father? That sales was "in my blood?" What was it?

It was probably a combination of it all, yet had this question never been asked, who knows where I would be today?

Recently, my buddy asked for some help on his LinkedIn page and for some sound advice into his job search as well. I am excited to guide him but I understand the difficulties that lie ahead. Like anything, positivity must be put out into the universe for the process to really begin. These types of thoughts and prayers are contagious and will help anyone in their search, as long as they are willing to grind for it.

So, does he have what it takes? His character and attitude will be tested along the way and it will be difficult to watch, but with a little coaching and positivity, I know he can get it done. No one ever said it was going to be easy.