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The Man Who Forgot What He Was Worth


A truly successful career requires you to be clear about what you are worth

Late one evening a couple of months ago I got a call from a man who introduced himself as Eric (not his real name). He explained he was having a lot of trouble with his career which was an odd way of describing what followed.

He started very hesitantly to explain that he had applied for numerous jobs over the previous while but all to no avail.  He had got as far as the interview on a few occasions but no further.  While he was speaking his voice kept faltering and in a very hesitant way asked if e could meet as from his part it as urgent.  As is the norm I agreed and we met a few days later.

Eric was I about 33 well turned out but clearly stressed.  His whole demeanour, his speech, his eyes, his mannerisms radiated stress.  He went on to explain that he had a Business Degree and also qualifications in Financial Services.  He progressed well in his career working within a specialist area within the sector.  He made two good career moves here and then decided to go for a position abroad in one of the well known International Financial Services hubs, earn some good money and come home able to buy a good home.  While explaining all this he was wringing his hands and was clearly getting more and more distressed as he recalled these events.

The job abroad had gone really well and was followed by another job which went equally well and while living a good lifestyle he was putting away savings as planned.  However a family issue arose and they come home quickly. At this time and he believed it would be easy enough to get re-deployed back home in Dublin. But it was not to be.  He left Ireland in the good times and returned when it was at its worst.

He applied unsuccessfully for several jobs and then in an effort to get something, anything, he began to apply for more junior roles in the belief that he would surely secure a position at a lower level. But this is a tactic that rarely works and didn’t in this case.  Every time he got a rejection he felt more and more a failure to the point where he now believed that the job he got abroad was just a lucky chance and he would never secure anything as good again.

He felt dejected, hopeless and a failure in front of his wife despite the fact that she supported him 100%.  He had lost all his self esteem, was confused and became unable to explain himself.  It was as though his life’s work never happened.

So was there anything that could I do to help he asked?  Yes I replied, I can as what he described was not unusual among some clients albeit somewhat more extreme than most.

A loss of confidence does strange things to people.  Even the most accomplished have extreme difficulties in accounting for themselves once they lose their confidence. It can bring about a mental paralysis for the want of a better word and is a forerunner to depression.

Confidence comes from knowledge and an understanding of the skills achieved and experience gained and more than anything the ability to recall and appreciate how these attributes are relevant in a particular context, like a job.  Failure can effect levels of confidence and that is something that happens to us all too some degree in our lives.  In this instance it was the repeated rejection that had this huge affect on Eric.  The more he was rejected the more urgent it was that he succeeded for himself and his family, the more urgent it became the harder he tried.  Add the refusals and it eventually overwhelmed him.  It all imploded in his mind, he became “snow blind” in a career sense.

The only way to help Eric was to start at the beginning and talk through his career to date in detail, making a separate list of the achievements he had and most of all putting a value on them, a value that could be measured in terms of revenue achieved or saved. All this information then had to be repeated and compared to alternate listings on the Web in order to make comparisons.  They were practised and re-practised until he realised he had very successful career that could be progressed.

These details were also saved as good content for a complete C.V. make-over.  As he related his career I could detect that he as getting a bit angry at his lack of success.  This was good as it indicated he was beginning to rationalise his situation and not just accept failure as being inevitable.

So then we practised his presentation, again and again until it was flawless, perfectly natural and concise with an instant response to any question asked.

As we worked through the details of his background it re-painted a picture of his career to date and by relating to current adverts on the jobs pages we could easily see how absolutely qualified he was for several advertised roles that he had previously shied away from.

The next job was to create a job search diary for Eric to work against.  This is a plan of  introduction to recruiters at all levels and the action plan for addressing the other job search routs leaving little or no time for rejections.  If and when there was any rejection he was too busy with a full diary to spend much time dwelling on it.  Planned out properly this is a great confidence building exercise as it ensures positive activity rolling out weeks in advance.

The happy ending was that by bringing Eric through these steps it resulted in a good job offer within about five weeks of commencing his job search.

His success was as a direct result of a new confidence within himself; a confidence that enabled him to relate truthfully the what, the where and the how he had performed so well in his previous roles.  And it worked quite quickly.  He deserved it, he was a really nice guy and I know he will be a great asset to his new employer.

The salutary message is that no matter what rejection comes you way, you still have the same skills and experience you had before.  It is not diminished.  Never forget your worth and never undersell yourself.  It rarely works.

Good luck.


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