This post was first published on the Firebrand Talent blog.
When I was 17, I wanted to work in the travel industry. It was my final year at school and I had no clue what I wanted to do, but jetting off somewhere exotic sounded like a cool way to live while I figured it out.
Unfortunately my last year in school coincided with the worst recession in Irish history. Determined to find a job in spite of this, I went with the only strategy I knew at the time, a mass mail out. I wrote letters to every travel agent in the phone book (this was pre-internet so I’m talking over 100 handwritten letters!). While I got plenty of nice letters back, sadly for me, there were no job offers.
It’s frustrating when you put a lot of effort into getting a job or progressing your career only to get rejected, or worse still ignored altogether.
Often though, as I have discovered, it means you weren’t necessarily giving yourself the best shot in the first place.
If I had tried a different approach back then, like offering to help out at my local travel agents, I might have fulfilled my travel plans.
HERE ARE 3 WAYS TO CREATE MORE CAREER OPPORTUNITIES REGARDLESS OF YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES:
1. Make a list of your barriers
If you’ve been trying to make changes with your career, what is standing in your way? Is it your lack of experience? An unsupportive boss? There might be some less obvious ones too.
Maybe you want to work in a more dynamic environment but you hold yourself back in case you don’t meet the high performance standards, for example.
Write a list of everything you perceive as a barrier, whether you’re dealing with difficult work colleagues or a highly competitive environment.
When you’ve written your list it’s time to get honest with yourself.
How many of these things are really an issue?
My point is that sometimes we get stuck blaming others, or ourselves, instead of focusing on what we can actually do to help our situation.
So suspend your disbelief for a moment and pretend none of those barriers exist.
Write a list of the actions you would take if you had no impediments. Take action on three of them right away and diarise three more for tomorrow. Fast action gets fast results.
2. Ask better questions
Have you ever noticed that when things aren’t going your way, you tend to ask yourself really negative questions?
Why am I always screwing up? Why can’t I do better at interviews?
The trouble with negative questions is that they contain assumptions and those assumptions are usually not even close to the truth.
The other problem is that when you ask yourself a negative question, your brain goes looking for answers to support that assumption, which doesn’t help your confidence.
In his book, The Power of Asking Questions: The Book of Afformations, Noah St John says that when you ask better questions, your mind automatically begins to focus on what you have instead of what you lack.
So instead of asking: Why can’t I get a job? Or: Why is there never enough money in my bank account?
Turn those questions into positives like:
Why am I so good at my job? Or: Why am I so awesome with money?
Your brain will search for a positive answer. When you change your subconscious assumptions about your career, you will change your results.
St John argues that when you switch your focus in this way, you will naturally see opportunities for yourself where you previously only saw barriers.
3. Face your fears
For years I dreaded public speaking. If I had to introduce myself, even to small groups, my heart would pound, my hands would shake and I would rush through my speech just to get the discomfort over with as quickly as possible.
So I made a decision that I would face this fear and look for opportunities to present to groups. As soon as I did that, invitations to present and speak started pouring in. I don’t believe this was a coincidence. When you make a commitment like this, you will start seeing opportunities to make it happen. Often they just land in your lap without you having to do much at all.
In my experience, facing your fears is one of the fastest ways to create more opportunities in your life, so think about where your fear might be holding you back.
Remember if you have a fear of public speaking like me, you don’t have to go all out and speak in front of big crowds right away. Take baby steps, start with small events and work your way up.