After several years of hearing of the book Who Moved My Cheese: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life and mentally bookmarking it as a “must-read someday”, I finally got hold of a copy last week and I can tell you, it really is a must read!
Written by Dr Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese? uses the very simple story of two mice and two “Littlepeople” in a maze full of hidden cheese to discuss change and the different ways we respond to it.
The message of the book can be interpreted in so many different ways but of course being a careers blogger, I couldn’t help but think of it within a job hunting context, and so I came up with five “cheesy” strategies from the book to help you deal with finding work in today’s job market.
Note: If you haven’t read Who Moved My Cheese (and I strongly recommend that you do), this article may contain spoilers.
The 5 “cheesy” strategies
1. The cheese has moved – deal with it
The starting point of going from where you are in your job hunt to where you want to be is to admit to yourself that “the cheese has moved”. In other words, acknowledge that the job market has changed as a result of the recession – there are less jobs and more competition so even if you had no trouble finding a job in the past, you may struggle to do the same today simply because the cheese has moved. Accept the truth for what it is and use it as fuel to pump up your determination to get to where you really want to be in your career.
2. Move with the cheese
Whether or not it’s right or fair for the cheese to move is neither here or there as change is a natural part of life; what matters is that you respond and adjust accordingly when it happens. This means being prepared to change what may have once been working perfectly for you in your job hunting strategies. You may need to invest in a CV makeover or brush up on your interview techniques to improve your chances of landing the job you want.
3. The new cheese is where you haven’t been before
Change forces us outside our comfort zone which is where the real opportunities lie for personal growth and development. Your best chance of finding “new cheese” in today’s job market is to go where you haven’t been and do what you haven’t done before in your job hunt. If your search so far has been limited to the visible job market, go underground and see what you can find in the hidden market; if you’ve been applying for graduate positions only, try an alternative approach such as getting work experience or an internship with a smaller firm and working your way up from there. Think creatively and you’re bound to run into new cheese sooner rather than later.
4. Don’t search for cheese in the dark
If you’ve been job hunting for a while, it’s easy to get discouraged and start lowering your standards to just any job in desperation. The solution is “don’t search for cheese in the dark” – unless you have a clear vision of where you want to go and what you want to achieve in your work life, you will struggle to achieve anything meaningful in your job hunt and may instead find yourself stumbling about aimlessly with generic CVs and cover letters that lead you nowhere.
Write down what type of job you would like to get (based on your existing skills and experience), how much you would like to earn, what area you wish to work in, your ideal hours per week and so on… Keep this in front of you while you search and it will help to keep you focused and eventually produce the result you desire.
5. Learn to move your own cheese
When you finally land that job you’ve been dreaming of, settle in but don’t get too comfortable as change is always lurking around the corner. Learn to move your own cheese by staying on top of your game – work hard; get to work on time; find out what is required of you in your role and aim to exceed this; continuously develop your skills and don’t pass up on opportunities to get additional training outside your existing skills (always aim to leave a job more skilled than when you entered). At the same time, never get so comfortable in a job that you start basing your entire financial security around it. Develop a second, third, fourth…stream of income that you can fall back on, should the need arise. This can be as simple as baking and selling cupcakes at the weekend, mastering eBay trading, or offering your design skills as a service on freelance sites like Elance or People Per Hour.
If you’re in a place today where you find yourself asking ‘who moved the cheese in my work life?’, it’s probably time to put your running shoes on and go find new cheese elsewhere. Oh, and while you’re at it, go get a copy of the book too – it will help
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