We joke about the advice our parents told us as children and the silly things they have said in moments of parenting frustration or stress. Yet, we also carry their gems of wisdom with us into adulthood. We rely on their words so much more than we would ever have believed as teens.
I want to share some of the gems that my mother gave me about job searching and life. If you like one or more, feel free to take it as your own.
1. When you talk to an employer, stand or sit up straight.
Pretty obvious, right? Yet how easy it is to let our shoulders droop, to let our heads sag and to feel powerless in a job search. Your body language tells the truth about how you feel. If your body language looks defeated, you do, too. So, straighten your posture, lift up your chin, smile and show confidence. If you need an extra boost with some current research, check this TED Talk with Amy Cuddy.
2. Get some self-esteem.
You can’t sell yourself if you feel like you are worthless. You might need some help to remind yourself of the many good qualities you have to contribute. If you are feeling low, talk to someone who can help. This could be a job search counselor, a friend, a spouse or anyone who will remind you that you have multiple great qualities. You can tell this message to yourself, of course, but hearing from someone else will confirm and strengthen your own self-esteem, which is already there, but battered.
3. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.
My mother has always been very clear on this and she has always believed that clothes and grooming are extremely important. However, her advice is neither expensive nor difficult. She maintains, at the age of 80, and has since my childhood, that being clean and showered is always the key. Similarly, clothes don’t need to be “fancy” (here read: designer) but they should be laundered and ironed. (She places a very heavy emphasis on ironing.) Finally, shoes should always be polished; they are the detail that many people forget. Oh, plus my mother would tell you to never, never, never cut your own hair. Trust that work to a professional.
4. Don’t brag.
The line between selling ourselves for a job and bragging can feel really thin. But that line is clear for my mother. She says it’s about how you talk about the work you want to do. In her point of view, the secret is about treating tasks with the respect they deserve; and not claiming that everything is easy for you. In her words, we should all sell ourselves with this type of sentence:
“I feel I’m capable of doing this job and I’ll work hard to achieve it.”
Attitude is everything, in her opinion.
5. Understand that your final chapter isn’t written yet.
You will not get every job you want. However, whether you are hired or rejected, you are still a part of the game. Most importantly, you are still capable of learning. You will write another chapter and like any good novel, there will be high and low points. You can keep working on your story. Make it a good one.
Life is short and we need all the help we can get. Has your mother given you meaningful advice for both job search and life? Share it in our comments section.
About the Author: Gwen Pawlikowski is a freelance writer and entrepreneur who has also worked as an ISSofBC employment counsellor with newcomers. She lives in New Westminster and loves the diversity of the Lower Mainland. Please click here for information on ISSofBC’s career services.