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Seven Habits of Highly Effective Job Seekers

Posted December 20, 2019

Doug Perry

As this is a time of year for reflection, I encourage you to set some professional goals for 2020.

Raise your virtual hand if you’ve read the book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by the late Stephen R. Covey? It’s considered a classic – among the top productivity books ever published.

I read Covey’s book many years ago and it amazes me how the Seven Habits fit almost everything – relationships, physical and spiritual well-being and, yes, your job search.

So if Covey were still alive what would be some of the specific suggestions he would give you in your job search? 

Let’s explore that. Here’s my application of the Seven Habits for your job search in 2020.

Habit 1: Be Proactive

Don’t let your job search happen to you – you should happen to it. Don’t wait for job openings to be posted. Create your own success by building your network. This should be a career-long pursuit, regardless if you actively searching.

Next, make sure your resume is always current and ready to go. I can’t tell you how many times dental professionals come to me with amazing opportunities but have to respond to them quickly. If your resume and other materials such as a good cover letter, testimonial sheet, and portfolio are ready or close, you can respond quickly and decisively.

If you are behind the gun on this as you launch into 2020, make it your goal to be proactive in your preparations.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

Define your dream job. Where is it? What type of work will you be doing? How will that job help you springboard to the next?

Know what you want so you can avoid chasing what you don’t want. Don’t apply for jobs that are problematic or compromise your vision. Jobs you apply for should align with your goals and ideals. They should serve the purpose of getting you incrementally to where you want to be.

Always be looking five, 10, 20 years down the line. Even if you are happy right now, a good plan or contingency will serve you well. Life happens and we all experience unexpected disruptions and deviations in our career. But if you have a vision of your future you can remain nimble and adaptable to whatever comes along.

Habit 3: Put First Things First

Look after your overall wellness. If you are compromised in your personal life – emotionally or physically – focus on you first. Get yourself healthy so that when you are putting yourself out there it’s the best version of you.

Landing a job takes time, preparation, patience, and focus. If you lack any of that your chances of success are diminished and you risk further health decline.

Everyone goes through tough times. Maybe all you need is a week or a few months away from the search. But recognize and take care of it, then return ready to hit it hard. Your confidence will shine and employers will see that.

Habit 4: Think Win-Win

Too often job seekers forget that employers have specific needs, too. Offer yourself up as a win or solution to their problem. Their problem could be hiring an employee that is amazing with patients or someone with lots of practice management experience.

Acknowledge their problem(s) in your cover letter, and possibly other materials. Then prepare yourself to pick up on those challenges in the interview. Your ability to acknowledge those challenges and offer yourself up as the best solution is what makes or breaks your chances with them.

Leave no doubt that hiring you is a win for them. They need you as much as you need them. You just have to articulate that in a way that postures that thinking.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood

The only way you are going to understand what their “problem” is (see habit four) is to do some homework.

It may seem the answer to their problem is to fill an opening. However, all hiring employees have a framework or type of person in mind. They want a specific personality, a unique skill set of identifiable traits.

Study the job announcement carefully, visit their website and social media pages, talk to people that know their office. Gather this information so you can speak their language and show you truly understand what they need.

Habit 6: Synergize

Read articles, go to conferences for training, talk to mentors, use resources like DentalPost, hire a coach, get help with your resume or other materials. Sure, you can go it alone if you want, but studies show those that get outside help achieve a more favorable and swift result.

Everyone needs feedback and reference points to ensure they are putting their best foot forward. There’s no shame in asking for help, in fact, it will probably strengthen your confidence and think outside the box in your job hunt.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Realize that each day is filled with ups and downs. Similar to Habit 3, you need to continually do things to help you get through the low points.

It could be physical exercise, shopping with a friend, something spiritual – anything that will help renew and refresh your overall outlook. Anything that will rejuvenate your resolve to reach your career goals.

Those activities will project in your interacts with employers. They will see your optimism, confidence, and determination and seek to have you join their team.

Organize and Execute

I am going to add one more piece of advice and that is to organize and execute. Write down what your 2020 career goals, then develop a plan to execute on them. Then go to work.

Remember, there will be barriers you will encounter, so it’s important that as part of your plan you resolve to continue. Even if you have to slow down or take a detour, continue on so that your seven habits of successful job hunting will bring you peace and prosperity now and in the years ahead.


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