What My Parenting Coach Taught Me About Job Search

A little while back, I had an eye-opening experience during a coaching session with my Parenting Coach - Not only about parenting, but also about job search. My goal in hiring her was very measurable and explainable: Show me how to get my son to take responsibility in the morning, get dressed on his own, make his own breakfast, and get to the bus on time. I dreaded being the nagging mommy; the walking reminder who no longer engaged in conversation; the mommy who barked orders instead - "What do you mean you can’t find your socks!" I begged her to help me work myself out of a job in the morning! "Achievable?" I asked her. "You bet!" She assured me. And, during that grueling (and, in parts, enlightening) exchange in which I took lots of notes and shed a few tears (over all my previous mistakes), I had an out-of-body, “aha” kind of moment: I had to get out of my son’s way and let him do his job. I’m an enabler. Finally, I get it. Without knowing it consciously, my son relied on me to fill his lunchbox with a healthy mix of celery (not too much) and meringues (more than one), his cereal bowl with the perfect blend of Kix and Chex, and his backpack with his logs, goodies, and notes for the teacher. He trusted that I would get him to school on time, without letting him suffer any logical or natural consequences. The morning was inadvertently a team sport; we were mutually responsible for getting him out the door on time. And, I never let him down. In the midst of my realization, it occurred to me job seekers often view job search in a similar way: a team sport. We hand off the job of “making our lunch” (getting a job) to others who say they will:

  • Circulate our resume.
  • Submit our resume to their corporate website.
  • Look around for open positions for us and let us know if they see anything that looks like it would be a good match.
And, we wait. We wonder when “they” are going to call. We hope our friend does, in fact, have a friend who sees our resume and jumps for joy at having been handed the Holy Grail. Unfortunately, our network isn’t always as reliable or as committed to our success as our Mommy is - no matter how hard they try. We give others too much responsibility in our job search when we need to take control of the situation. We have to take our power back. Next time you find yourself about to watch someone take your resume off to who-knows-where, try this instead: “Thank you for agreeing to share my resume with your friend at [my target company]. Would you mind sharing his/her contact info with me so that I may follow up with him/her after you share my resume?” Today, consider how you might be waiting for someone to make your lunch. Are you under functioning in the job search and hoping others will help you? Is it working? Did you give your resume to someone in hopes it would get to the “right” person. Did it? And, in case you are curious, today (with the help of my fabulous parenting coach) my son woke up to his alarm clock, made his own breakfast, packed his own lunch, and got to the bus by 8:10 AM - without a single reminder from me... OK, maybe just one.

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Work is important to a lot of us. And we all have egos. The trick is to balance our own view of work and success so that the ego remains a helpful source of support and not a tyrannical master. One is the road to relative contentment, the other to continued misery. Have you struck the balance?

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