Archana Bhatia is Hopscotch's Key Skills Coach and regularly helps women both through our 121 Coaching service and at our Workshops and Events.  Here, she shares her thoughts gathered after our Conference and some lessons from her on how to overcome some commonly held misconceptions whilst searching for work!

I recently spoke on GRIT at the Hopscotch Women’s Empowerment Conference.  Hopscotch’s Co-founder and MD, Helen McGuire, turned the spotlight on me as she introduced me as their Key Skills Coach. As expected, after the event, many women approached me for “coaching on the fly” discussions around the job search process, challenges, aspirations, support and self-esteem and I was struck by the common themes emerging. I thought back to my past coaching sessions with women who were deciding the way forward in their careers.

As I unraveled those conversations in my mind, I spotted the same beliefs and themes. I like to call them “gremlins” – they put us on a leash as we strain to move forward to achieve our job search/ career goals. So I thought I'd make this month's Blog Post around just some of these gremlins that I've witnessed and have helped to conquer.  Feel free to add yours in the comments below and ways in which you've got - or are getting - are around them!

#Gremlin Number 1: I’ve re-worked my CV. It’s all “jazzed up” now so I’m set to start the job search process.

The truth: A good CV is one miniscule part of the job search process – especially for women aspiring to re-join the work force after a long hiatus. They are not on a recruiter’s radar and currently, organizations are facing real challenges in keeping intact jobs for their existing work force.

A process that goes hand in hand with re-working the CV is preparing one-self emotionally, mentally and physically for the hustle and bustle of a job search. Think follow up, rejection, long waiting time, sitting at the computer for hours, interviews that go wrong, contacts that renege on their commitments – it’s a long list! This can be damaging to one’s self-confidence and sense of self-worth but there never is a game plan or strategy around how to deal with it. I’m not suggesting a complex “blue sky” document. But you need to ask questions and remind yourself of the possible solutions when you feel your emotional energy going southwards.

-       How have I dealt with rejection in the past? What resources did I use to get past it?

-       What things really make me happy? How can these be leveraged to put me into a good state of mind when things aren’t going well?

-       Whose shoulder have I got to cry on? (you may need a couple of people so that the same shoulders aren’t burdened time and again!)

#Gremlin Number 2: I can do this on my own. I don’t need anyone’s support.

The truth: I believe fervently (especially for women) that we have all the resources, strength and wisdom to achieve our goals. However, it’s reassuring to know that we can draw upon the resources, strength and wisdom of our well- wishers, too. Sometimes, it’s also good to have a shoulder to cry on or a person to curse and vent your anger on (think voodoo dolls!). 

#Gremlin Number 3: If I send someone a LinkedIn invite after I meet them just once, they will think I’m a “pile on”.

The truth: Well, this could be a real gremlin. But, I tell my coachees, that’s not a decision for them to make. The decision rests with the person to whom they are sending the invite. If they accept the invite, well and good. If they don’t, refer to “the truth” regarding Gremlin Number 2!

#Gremlin Number 4: I’m using influence to get a job if I ask my contacts for introductory meetings.

The truth: It’s only an introductory meeting you are asking for, not a free “round the world” ticket! And that’s exactly how it should be positioned – just an informational meeting to explore possible opportunities. Don’t take shelter under these excuses:

-       I don’t think this person can be of use to me.

Networks don’t work in a linear fashion. Instead, they are a complex web of relationships that connect in all directions. If a friend or a contact cannot be of assistance, they could provide you references that lead to more meetings– remember, a contact of a contact is also your contact!

-       I’ve been out of the workforce for so many years. I no longer have any contacts.

When my coachees say this to me, I set aside my coaching hat and force them to think of all the people who could possibly help them. Lo behold! There’s a list like a rabbit out of magician’s hat. It’s one of the first things to do when embarking on a job search process – inform as many people as you can that you are in the market for a job.

#Gremlin Number 5: What am I doing wrong?

The truth: Well, you could be doing something wrong but that’s not a constructive way to evaluate your- self. Some better questions to introspect with would be:

-       What should I be doing that I’m currently not doing?

-       Who else can I speak with to get information?

-       Who do I know that succeeded in achieving their goals and what can I learn from them?

-       How can I prepare better for this?

These are active questions that propel you forward and force you to look around you and within you.  

Finding meaningful work after a forced or voluntary break requires a lot of GRIT - passion, perseverance and a single-minded focus. Use these very same qualities to overcome fears, destroy those gremlins and move forward with your agenda!

Archana Bhatia is Hopscotch's Key Skills Coach.  If you'd like to contact her for a 121 Session, please email 121@hopscotch.ae