When I started working for Right Management I was surprised at how much crossover there is between my two jobs. Teaching adults to ride motorcycles and working with individuals going through career transition don’t sound similar on the surface, but if you peel a few layers back the issues are very close, if not identical.
Adults don’t often have to learn a new cognitive skill while working on new physical skills. Learning to ride is almost all about thinking, and how we think in our jobs (analytically, multitasking, focused on performance) doesn’t work on a bike. Same with a career transition. What worked for you in your former position may not be helpful as you look for your next opportunity. Learning how to network, market yourself, use social media, etc. all sound daunting but you can do it. Just avoid these four pitfalls that are common to learning to ride and a job search:
1. You expect perfection
This is a killer for both activities. There is pressure associated with both, and definitely more tangible ones associated with a transition (money being a big one). Many people who are finding themselves looking for a new career expect that they’re going to write a perfect resume, interview perfectly, and apply for the perfect job by coming across a job posting. New motorcyclists – even those who have never ridden before – often think that they’ll pick up the exercises easily and do them perfectly in a short period of time. But it’s their minds that defeat them.
When’s the last time you had to go out and find a job? Was it before the advent of social media? Do you have a cohesive brand to market yourself with? Is your resume tired, or dating you? Are your interview skills below par? You probably relate to a lot of these questions and it’s okay. There’s a lot to learn, and in order for you to have an effective targeted job search you need to slow down and take some time to learn and focus.
2. You’re looking for “fool’s gold”
“Fool’s gold” is what one of the Lead Instructors I work with calls learning to ride focused on getting your license, not surviving on your bike. The license doesn’t prove that you know how to ride; it simply proves that you followed instructions on a couple of tests satisfactorily. These students are much more concerned with what’s going to be on the tests than the skills needed to get them out of a bad situation (or better yet, avoid it altogether).
Fool’s gold in a job search is spending all your time chasing job postings and LinkedIn connections. Most jobs are found in the “hidden job market” which you can only access by networking. Networking is much more than watching your follower count on LinkedIn go up. You have to get out there and network and reach out to those connections. Fool’s gold is sending out your resume and cover letter in response to a posting and sitting back waiting to be called in for an interview. A job search is an active process. Being passive prolongs the process and often leads to frustration.
3. You’re letting your emotions and instincts get in the way
Human instincts evolved to keep us alive, but are harmful when it comes to riding. When you’re under a critical amount of stress your brain gives control to your limbic system which is where the flight/fight/sublimate responses come from. It’s also the emotional centre of the brain. Instincts are extremely hard to overcome.
If you’re in a career transition because you lost your job (for any reason) it’s normal to feel angry, hurt, betrayed, sad, etc. The problem comes when these emotions leak into your job search. If your instinct is to get defensive, be bitter, or ignore dealing with the normal emotions that arise from losing your job it will come across in your interviews and it will hinder your ability to make a good first impression.
4. You’re not doing your homework
Many new riders don’t know much about motorcycles other than they’re awesome and they want one! That’s okay. The problem is when it comes to purchasing one. If you buy based on looks or what your friends ride you run the risk of being unprepared to handle the type of bike you bought. Leaning over in the rain on a decreasing radius turn is not a good time to discover your cruiser doesn’t turn like a sportbike!
Nailing your interview requires preparation and homework. You need to be able to answer competency-based questions, behavioural interviewing questions, questions designed to probe your Emotional Intelligence, as well as demonstrating that you know about the company and the position you’re interviewing for. How’s your 30/60/90 second commercial? Can you deliver it smoothly and naturally? Have you worked on your reason for leaving statement so it’s positive and upbeat? What are you bringing to the company that differentiates you from the other applicants for the job? You need to be able to answer these questions and think on your feet. Waltzing in to an interview without preparation is a good way to end up lacking confidence and not getting called back for a second round.
When learning to ride students are anxious, nervous, excited, fearful. Sounds a lot like the emotions one feels while looking for a new job. The feelings are normal!