Why you need to fail
Episode 188 - Embracing failure: A job hunter's shortcut to success
Navigating the tumultuous seas of job hunting is an experience familiar to all career-oriented individuals. The aspiration for a seamless pursuit of employment often motivates us to steer clear of failure. Nevertheless, my years of traversing the corporate landscape and now coaching clients through it have led to a profound realization – failure, rather than being an enemy, can be a powerful propeller toward success.
Here are three tactical strategies that transform failure into a potent instrument of victory in your job hunt.
1. Launching a Lean Job Hunt Strategy
One cannot deny the power of action when it comes to job applications and interviews. Often, it illuminates the path more brightly than meticulous planning could. A common pitfall among job seekers is the tendency to delay action until they feel fully equipped. This inclination stems from the misconception that any failure could be detrimental to their career trajectory. The reality is starkly different – even minor hiccups can become instructive experiences if we are receptive to the lessons they impart.
Embracing the possibility of unexpected and adverse outcomes is crucial in your job search, but it doesn't imply setting sail without a map. An effective career plan must incorporate room for spontaneous exploration, enabling you to embed new concepts as you evolve, learn, and unravel insights about your professional journey. We do not exist in isolation – our career plans need the fuel of feedback and inputs to truly shine.
Failure can also be viewed as an experimental phase, a trial-and-error method in your career path. It's always better to try and move on than to be haunted by regret. For example, my tenure as the CEO of a nonprofit allowed me to realize that it wasn't my calling. Despite performing well and relishing the role, I chose not to pursue a similar position in the future. The same principle applied to the university degrees I pursued but did not complete.
2. Cultivating Curiosity
Job searching need not be a purely transactional process. Instead, adopt an investigative mindset and view your job hunt as a personal development project. By treating each job application or interview as an experiment, you not only make the process more enjoyable but also unlock doors to lessons and opportunities that may have otherwise remained closed.
3. Embrace Failure as a Learning Opportunity
Failure can serve as a lens through which to examine the job market, different sectors, industries, and organizations, or even your own preparation for high-pressure situations such as interviews. It's an opportunity to build resilience and master the art of persistence – traits that are closely tied to success.
It is essential to understand that successful professionals have faced their fair share of rejections and setbacks. However, hitting rock bottom isn't a prerequisite for harnessing the power of failure.
Approaching your job hunt with a success-only mindset can lead to premature surrender, potentially hampering your earnings and career advancement. As someone who has mastered the art of job hunting, I can confidently attest to the importance of adopting a growth mindset, taking calculated risks, and understanding the transformative power of failure.
If you're looking for guidance to navigate potential pitfalls in your job search and career planning journey, consider working with me as your career coach. Visit this page for more details on my services.
Resources mentioned in this episode
Other resources from RenataBernarde.com :
About the Host, Renata Bernarde
Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach professionals (corporate, non-profit, and public) the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress.
If you are an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, if you are looking to find your next job or promotion, or if you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running, then this podcast is for you.
In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, on my website, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients
Timestamps to guide your listening
04:00 - 1. Go to market with a minimal viable pitch and job search strategy
17:03 - 2. Be curious
23:50 - 3. When you fail, pay attention
Transcript of this episode
You know, we often read articles about failure in new businesses and the well-known statistics that about 90% of new businesses fail. However, when we job search, we don't usually pay attention to failure rates and conversion rates, which is a bad strategy in my view, because failure in a job search is a necessary part of the process to your brand new, more interesting, better paid.
New job. In the same way that if you are an entrepreneur, failing is part of the process of understanding how to be successful as a business person. So keep listening so I can explain why you need to fail and the importance of failure in job search, and how to fail, right? Leveraging setbacks and cultivating this growth mindset is important to unlock career opportunities.
Look, every job hunter is well aware of the daunting challenges that come with finding employment. We strive to avoid failure at all costs, aiming to smooth out and be as successful as possible in our job search. However, after years of navigating the job market as a corporate professional myself and now as a career coach, helping my clients, I've come to realize that failure is not only a natural part of the journey but is an essential part of the journey, and it serves as a catalyst for success.
I know you're here because you're interested in job hunting because this is the name of the podcast. I also want to educate you on the importance of strategy and career planning and being prepared to progress in your career, advance in your career, or maintain your career as sustainably as possible over the years.
So I'm going to share with you today three strategies that can really transform your understanding of failure and make it a powerful tool for success in your job search. Before we go ahead and talk about these three strategies, I just want to remind you how important it is for the podcast for you to give it a five-star rating.
If you can, can you, if you're watching on YouTube, just. Press, like if you are listening to it on iTunes, subscribe. Of course. Follow. And give it a five-star rating. It means the world to me. I love when people send me messages saying they're listeners and that they tell everybody to listen. I just got a message like this today on LinkedIn.
Awesome. I really do. It makes my day; it makes me really happy. Right. But in terms of helping this podcast, if you want to help, giving it a five-star rating is amazing. If you have a minute to write a little review, oh my gosh. I will just be forever grateful. So please do that if you can. And thank you.
Thank you so much for being a listener. I am so impressed with how. Well, this podcast is doing and growing. Oh, it's, you know, amazing. I'm flabbergasted, to be honest. But thank you so much. And I think it goes to show how important it is for us to share these things and how lonely it is to job search and, you know, people with.
All of the information that we have right now still, you know, find it hard to convert, and I'm here for you, like, you know where to find me. Go to my website, find me, and keep listening. Thank you. All right, so the first strategy is to help you understand the power of failure. Is this going to market with a minimal viable pitch and job search strategy?
Alright, again, I mentioned the importance of understanding failure as a business. Person, right? Like I have my own business. So I had to really work hard for my business not to fail. In its first year, it's now been three and a half years. I'm very happy where it's at. But one of the things we learn, you know, and I had a business coach, I was so lucky to have a business coach.
And I also went to university, and I did a commerce degree. So, of course, you know, I kind of hopefully still have a lot of that information in my brain. But, you know, many job hunters fall into this trap of waiting until they feel fully prepared to take action. Businesses don't do that.
They launch a minimal viable product, and then they grow that product, family, the ex. Banded, they add to it; they make new versions of it, and job searches can follow a similar strategy for sure. You know, we need to be driven by this belief that we are going to use job search as a continuous learning, continuous improvement strategy.
So that should replace the belief that any failure is. Inherently negative, right? So I mentioned this before. I once had a consultation with a client, and she said she applied for a dream job, and it was really a perfect job for her. I have to admit, You know, she booked the consultation.
Then she sent me her resume, her cover letter, and this position description from years ago that she applied for, and she said, look, I didn't get even an interview; nobody even called me. And that made me so unhappy. I felt like such a failure. It's been two years, and now I'm consulting with you to see how I can progress from that because it basically paralyzed her.
So failure is not negative; it just means there's something there that you need to work on. Embracing imperfection in the way that you embrace your career advancement and your career readiness is really important. You need to be open to unexpected outcomes and negative outcomes. This is all vital to having a great mindset of resiliency as you job seek.
So action often brings more clarity than meticulous planning, right? So one of the things that we need to understand is that we're not going to learn, learn, learn, learn, and then be perfectly ready and then launch our job. Search strategy.
No. No. Even when you are working with a coach, especially when you're working with a coach, we work on this minimal viable. Pitch and minimal viable job search strategy to go to market because we know that when we go to market, we learn from feedback that we receive, and We learn from observing and listening to recruiters and how people respond to that pitch, how people respond to that job application.
Even the smallest set banks in a job search strategy can offer amazing lessons if you're open to learning and you're paying attention. You're not being driven by anxiety and fear, right? So we know because we've been listening to this podcast, so we know that you know, negative bias in our brain can really negatively affect your cognitive abilities.
So if you are going to market and you're feeling too anxious, you're in fight and flight mode, your brain is not operating as well, and you are not going to be paying attention to those cues unless people give you. Clear feedback. You know, like nobody gave me feedback unless people spell it out. You are not paying attention to body language to, you know, the minutia, the details, and the subtleness of what's happening around you.
And I want you to be feeling comfortable and ready for this. This is why I'm working with a career culture so well. Right? So instead, what can you do? You can refine your job search as you go, as you're getting feedback, and improve and crystallize your offering in the direction you want to take in your career.
Okay. So this is really important. For example, let's say you want to get out of your sector and move to a different sector, and you're finding it really hard to break into that sector. Are you listening to what people are saying about your resume, about your ability to connect with a different audience that you may not be aware of or knowledgeable about? It may be that to break into that sector, you need to do a little bit of homework prior to sending that job application and start connecting with people that work in that sector. Having conversations about adopting a new language, you know, language can change from sector to sector.
So something that's really important is, you know, understanding the use of jargon and having that cultural narrative that is appropriate to the sector that you're moving into. So those are the things that I think you can learn a lot from failure and get better at. That doesn't mean that you are going to market without a plan.
So the plan is a plan to improve, a plan to start with that minimal viable pitch but improve over time. It's not to go without a plan because that can be really daunting, and it can really damage your brand, you know, burn some bridges and making it make it really hard for you to continue to develop relationships when you are sprinkling your energy and not having that crisp and clear.
Narrative to recruiters. I just did a LinkedIn audit today with somebody that booked a LinkedIn audit on my website; that's one of the feedback that I gave her during the LinkedIn audit. I don't think that you have a clear idea of where you're going, and definitely, your LinkedIn is not giving the reader any clues about what you want to achieve in your career. So this needs to be refined, and you can do it yourself, but I am educating you on the fact that you may need some help on that as well. So if you've been listening for a while, you know I love a well-structured Career plan. But I like it when the plan includes that white space, space to grow, space to learn and to discover.
You know, I remember when we worked in a think tank here in Australia called c the Committee for Economic Development of Australia. And we, of course, had this important place in Australia's political sphere of having a platform for politicians. We still do. I mean, we see this still does, I don't work there anymore, but they still do this.
So they have this availability for politicians to deliver speeches. So it was a really tricky business, but we had to have it. Established events, you know, organized way in advance, like a year in advance, with senior business leaders and captains of industry, like CEOs and whatnot. So we had that book, but then we had this huge amount of wide space in our calendars because we knew that there would be a white paper or a green paper, or a, you know, recommendations from a report.
And whatever, the politicians would need a platform that we at Seeda provided for them to come and talk about whatever, whatever was going on. And that idea of white space was new to me at the time, but I loved it. You know, I love it now, and I think about our lives. Need that wide space, you know, it can't be fully booked all the time.
Our career needs that wide space to include things that will show up and invite us in and be interesting to think about and maybe incorporate into that overarching strategy. We are not that smart individually, you know; we need feedback and input to make us. Career plans. Great. That's the thing too, you know, you might come up with the idea that you think is great, and then you share it with the world, and the world goes, Hmm, what about if you tweak it just that bit or that bit that might, you know, speak better to employees and relate better to employers?
And you go, oh yeah, I hadn't thought of that. Then you go home, and you tweak a little bit your pitch, and you tweak a little bit your plans and your goals. They never come out perfectly from your own head. That's what I have found. And they really do develop better over time. Sometimes people book coaching with me like they wanna sign up for coaching, and they say, oh. No, no, I can't do three months of coaching.
Can you squeeze all the sessions into one month? And I'm like, I, you can't do that. It's gonna be really hard for all of the information to be delivered in a month for you to assimilate it and create the habits and routines that will enable your career plans to develop successfully over time.
You know, you need time to nurture those ideas and to help your brain assimilate everything. So failure can also be very experimental in a way that you can try a different career path and check that off your list so you're not thinking about it over and over, and you can move on if it doesn't work.
When I started my business Back in 2019, I decided I wanted to follow this path of having my own business. I remember having a conversation with Karen James, who's a guest on this podcast, so please listen to her episode. It's really great cause she changed careers a lot and changed sectors, and she was coming back from having had her own business for five years and, as at the time of this recording, she's working as the CEO of a nonprofit organization here in Australia. She's originally from the US. But I'm like, yeah, of course. Like I can try this, and if it doesn't work, I can go back to corporate. Do you know? And having that confidence in yourself is really important, and knowing that everything is gonna be fine is really important.
And making, ensuring that it will be fine by keeping your network nurtured, connecting with people letting them know what you're doing. And. You know, letting them know that you're coming back, you know, that's what Karen told me. She's like, look; I've had a great run. I loved every moment of it, but I'm really keen to come back and, you know, have a team and be part of a bigger, larger-scale project, and a few months later, she had a job. So I was delighted for her, and that really inspired me to follow my dream of having my own business, knowing that I could do what Karen did. She's a great inspiration for so many, so many women in Australia. She's fantastic. So yeah, so that is really important and, you know, by doing a very demanding job, like being the c e o of a nonprofit organization, for example.
Which I was, I ticked it off my list, and I don't feel like I want to do that again. It's not my calling, I don't think, as much as I truly loved the role and the purpose of that organization, and I believe I did a great job and, and I have zero regrets about it.
And the same goals for the two degrees that I started university degrees and I never finished them. One was art history, and the other one was civil engineering.
But I learned so much in those years, and I loved what I studied, and they were not things I wanted to do day to day as a professional. But I loved everything about what I studied in art history and history in general. The few years, you know, two and a half years of civil engineering were wonderful as well.
Cause I love maths, I love calculus, and I really enjoyed the physics and chemistry that I learned. But I decided I didn't wanna be an engineer, and I tested things out, and I moved on. And look at me now. I'm doing fine, everyone; if you have any doubts, I'm doing fine. So use failure to be experimental.
All right. The second strategy I want you to consider to make failure part of your success is to be curious. Don't be transactional, and be open-minded to opportunities to meet people. Learn about roles and industries, and let the transactional conversations take place at the tail end of a job search process.
Okay. What I mean by that is sometimes we look at a job, but the salary isn't right, or, oh, I don't know this organization, I don't really like that sector. Or maybe this is gonna be too hard or too many responsibilities, or I don't. I do know if I can move to this town, but I don't know if I can work full-time.
Those are all transactional conversations that, in my view, as a job candidate, you should leave at the tail end of the process. If you're a recruiter listening to this now and you are pulling your hair out, I'm sorry. I'm not here to support the recruiter or the employer. I'm here to support the job candidate, right?
I'm here to support the person who is applying for the job. There are lots of people supporting recruiters and employers. It's great for them. They have much, much more resources than the job candidate has. I'm your resource. Use me, so I want you to think differently about job searching as if it was a personal development project.
And the job searching is your research. So, I want you to think about job search as if you were a researcher, and researchers approach their studies with a hypothesis, conducting experiments to test its validity.
Similarly, as a job hunter, adopting that mindset of experimentation and curiosity is essential. Just go for it. Test it out. It could be. Good. It could be bad, it could be so and so, but don't self-select yourself out of the race by A, not applying or B, putting too many transactional barriers in front of you when you're talking to the recruiter, oh, you know, the salary is too low.
Oh, you know, I don't live in this town. Or, you know, would you accept four days instead of five days? Cuz I can only work four days a week. Now just go for it. Test it out, talk to the people, have those conversations, and feel you know if you're going to enjoy working for that organization. And then, when they do offer you a role, you discuss it.
The things you need. All right. So, for example, right now, I have clients who had that last week and the week before signed contracts, right? One of them said, all right, this is great, but the salary is a little bit below what I expected. Would it be okay to work four days a week? And another one, the job was already four days a week and the salary was a little bit low.
And she said, instead of. I think it was, I don't know, one 70. Can you make it 180? And they said yes. Right. That's 180k. That's annual. So those things that you can negotiate at the tail end. Now, if she had said that at the beginning, I bet your bottom dollar, everyone, she wouldn't have made it to the end.
They would have excluded her, but because. Everybody fell in love with that person along the way and thought of her as the perfect candidate for the position. She then negotiated a better salary. The other one negotiated to do it four days a week. Right? So this is how I think you can use curiosity to be open-minded.
And if, if it fails, it fails, but you've tried. Okay? And I think that. Not accepting the failure of saying, oh, you know, I can't find anything that exact for me that is in my sort of area of expertise or my seniority, or, this role is done interstate or remotely or whatever. No, no, just go for it.
Go for it. Adopt that curious mindset and be open. Also, you know, this idea of having very rigid rules for job applications, as I said, can really self-select yourself out of the race. And one of the other things that people are very rigid about, I have found, and I talk about this often, is this idea that they need a permanent role.
And right now, We're recording this at the end of May 2023. Things are tough in some industries, right? And people are telling me I am not seeing jobs advertised for me. And I want you to start thinking about this not as a failure but as an opportunity to consider other ways of earning a living, at least for now.
I mean, if this is temporary, It could be a year or two, and you are gonna be back on track with a permanent role, but it could also be a trend. I have clients now building a portfolio of opportunities, adding up to more monthly salaries or weekly salaries than they had before. And it's also an interesting idea because a lot of people think that there is insecurity in having those contracts add up to a portfolio.
That's why we call it a portfolio career. But in fact, there is a. Some security in it because if one contract falls through, you still have your earnings coming from two or three other contracts, right? So I have clients with three clients or four contracts. You know, let's say it could be one board position, one advisory role, one consulting role.
And when they add it all up, it's more money than they were making before. Even if it's not more money than you were making before, it's at least, you know, it's, you are keeping yourself busy. You are keeping yourself recent in your skills and your work with your industry and the sector that you love, and you're not losing pace, right?
So think about those different avenues. Making money and leverage from your network and from LinkedIn. You know, LinkedIn audits can be great at opening up opportunities like that. So keep an open mind to this. All right. Lastly, let's talk about when you fail, you have to pay attention. So failure can be, you know, can offer you crucial information about.
The job market, sectors, industries, organizations, your level of preparation for highly stressful interviewing situations, or different types of interview questions that you haven't practiced for, you are not really well prepared for, which you can do better next time. Right. So when you go through a recruitment process, and you apply, let's say you progress, and then you, you go through a job interview, and you didn't go through, This is sad, and you're gonna, you know, be really angry or upset or unhappy for a couple of days, but then I want you to pay attention to what happened and maybe work with a coach to allow you to develop a better, more sophisticated way of.
Applying for that job, dealing with the recruiter, and answering those questions in a format that is expected of you. It can really help you build resilience and teach you the art of persistence, which is, in fact, highly. Correlated with success, and people think, oh, you know, persistence, grit, it's so correlated with success.
Guess what? You only have grit and persistence if you've stumbled and stumbled over and over again. So there is a failure in that. So that's quite ironic. The thing that we don't realize about this strong correlation is that to be persistent, to be, and to have grit means you have encountered roadblocks and failures along the way.
So, you know, there's lots to learn. Stop worrying about feedback. You know, I haven't received the feedback I called. She didn't explain to me, or she explained in a way that meant nothing. You know, I know that you know, when I'm working with clients, and they don't get the job, okay, we debrief. Fully, and I go, tell me everything.
Tell me everything that happened. From the moment you got in the room to the moment you laughed, what did they say afterward? How long did it take for them to get back to you? I can most times unpick everything. And everything for me, because I do this all day. I, this is my job. I don't expect you to know these things, but you should expect me to know, right?
I can pick it; I can decipher it; I can really translate those little bits of information for you. And that's how we work. So Think about what you can improve next time. How are you going to go about improving it? What have you done well so far right now? Of course. So, for example, if you converted from job application to job interview, well, your, and that's a job that you want.
Then you know that your job application is working, and you can do that again. That's a success, and you should celebrate it. Right. Okay. It converted to a job that I wanted. That's great. I can do that again. Okay. All right, everybody. I hope you've enjoyed this episode. I can't wait to see you next time.
And if you want to tap into previous episodes that are kind of related to this one, look at the episode show notes. I'm going to find at least two that you can go back and listen to that may help you realize that failure is important to you. Bye. See you next time.
I hope that you enjoyed this episode and that you keep in touch. Please subscribe wherever you find this podcast, and if you're inspired and motivated to keep going, check out other episodes. You can also learn more about my services as a career coach in the episode.