Job Seeker or Consultant?
As a writer, the idea of using the right words for the right thing is important and the meaning of words and how they make people feel is even more important. As humans, we put a lot of stock in words: how they relate to us, what they make us feel and how we judge ourselves by them. One such phrase that can cause people to feel very differently about themselves? Job Seeker. (Or Job Hunter).
When people ask what you do, if you are between jobs, you often just say that you are looking for work, often with embarrassment or looking away or trying not to grit your teeth. Being stuck in a limbo like that can be quite frustrating and embarrassing. Our jobs make up a huge part of our identity and when the job is gone, that part of the identity goes with it. There is also a certain amount of subconscious passivity that goes with the title: job seeker. I’m seeking a job. I need a job.
While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with words, it’s the meaning and how they make us feel that can turn them around. There is nothing wrong with being a job seeker: it’s quite courageous really. You’re putting yourself out there to strangers and allowing yourself to be judged and a lot is hinging on that judgement. But many people also forget that they aren’t just a job seeker: they are a person too, and as a person, those experiences, skills, talents and abilities that were honed on the last job don’t go away. They don’t rust, they don’t fall apart and they still have value. You just have to turn them into something that other people see as having value too. We do this with the resume and cover letter, but we can also do this with our title: Consultant.
Well, if you think about it, you have a number of skills and attributes that people want and may need your help with. You may know a lot about computers. Or kids. Or teaching. Or stacking things. Yard work, the best way to get rid of ants, how to walk lots of dogs. Maybe you know a lot about book keeping or banking. Whatever it is that you have skills and experience in, you can leverage into telling other people how to do them or helping other people get the work done.
The trick here is to shift your mental paradigm from job hunter to consultant. It means the same thing (in this case); you’re looking for people who will pay you for your experience, but for many people, consultant is a title with some meat, something that they can add to their identity in a positive way. It’s the same idea as being a student: you’re not unemployed, you’re a student and that gives you back your mental image of yourself. If you’re looking for work, turn it around to say that you are available for consulting in your field(s) of expertise and then promote yourself as available to work under that lens.
The main benefits here are twofold: first, you get your mental image back of yourself which can be a huge boost to your self-esteem and confidence. Second, the title gives you weight which then other people can latch on to and may be able to use to work with you. If you tell people that you’re a consultant and your area of expertise is children, it’s more likely that you’ll get people asking for advice or help than if you say you’re looking for work with children. Furthermore, it can (mentally) open up other doors you may not have thought of, such as writing and publishing e-books on your expertise, creating a website, promoting yourself with a ‘proper’ title and so on. And then when you do land a job, it’s a consulting gig which may reduce some pressure. Cold calling becomes easier when you can introduce yourself as a consultant with an expertise in X.
So, if you’ve been feeling down in the dumps about your new title of ‘job seeker’, turn it around. You’re not looking for jobs, you’re looking for consulting opportunities. You are a consultant in your field. As a consultant, you are in demand! Remember: how we perceive ourselves will be reflected in how other people perceive us and if we perceive ourselves as being in demand and necessary, it’s easier to portray that to others and they will respond in kind.
Even if you think you can just a consultant in cat-care and dog walking. Everyone is in need of something!
Charlene is a full time instructor and published author. She enjoys writing about education, digital career paths, job hunts, and for her books, fantasy/mysteries. You can learn more about her novels at Kellan Publishing.