“7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is a classic and highly recommended book, for anyone looking for an increased sense of purpose, efficiency and effectiveness. The principles in the book apply in the workplace, at home, in school and to job search. Each of the seven habits has very direct applications and relevancy to job search:
- Be proactive: Take control of your job search and own your success
- Begin with the end in mind: Have clearly defined goals for your job search
- Put first things first: Prioritize your time and efforts
- Think win/win: Network to help others and yourself. Seek a position that satisfies you and brings great value to your employer
- Seek first to understand, then to be understood: Listen and understand each person, whether networking or interviewing for a job.
- Synergize: Look for creative cooperation. Help everyone around you, knowing you will benefit in unexpected ways
- Sharpen the saw: Continually improve each area of your job search
A quick blog post can’t begin to capture what author Stephen Covey lays out step by step in his book, but here is a deeper look at how each of his habits is useful in job search:
Habit 1 Be Proactive Covey urges us to own our own problems, solutions and outcomes. Job seekers often believe they are at the mercy of hiring managers or the economy. Yet there is much they can do to determine the outcome of the job search. Certainly the strategy and determination applied to job searching are critical parts of proactivity. Believing your fate is in other’s hands takes away initiative and self-determination. Affirming that your approach and effort will lead to a positive outcome gives you control.
Habit 2 Begin with the end in mind For job seekers the application of this habit is having a clear job search goal. Define and visualize success. Know exactly what you are shooting for and how you will get there. Covey suggests each person have a mission statement that encompasses values. For job seekers, this could be a branding statement that crystallizes what you bring to employers. Defining the end result assures you will get there faster.
Habit 3 Put first things first This habit is about time and priority management. For job seekers this means understanding which job search activities bring the greatest return and move you most rapidly toward the success. Avoid the distraction of activities that feel productive but don’t actually bring results, such as spending too much time chasing advertized job openings. Focus on the long term results brought by networking.
Habit 4 Think win/win How could any principle be more appropriate for job seekers? As you network, you are building mutually beneficial relationships. When you interview for a job, the desired outcome is a win for you (being hired) and a win for the employer (the benefits of your great problem solving). Networking that is not win/win is ineffective. A hire that is not a win/win is a bad hire. Shaping your job search around the principle of win/win assures a great outcome.
Habit 5 Seek first to understand, then to be understood Every networking conversation begins with this concept. Elevator pitches are never delivered without first truly understanding the other person. Interviews are all about fully understanding the needs, desires and problems of the potential employer. By applying this habit to every conversation, job seekers will quickly find their communications become far more relevant and effective.
Habit 6: Synergize Covey subtitles this “Creative Cooperation”. Synergy goes beyond win/win to the additional benefit and payoff of truly working together for everyone’s best outcome. In true synergy, there is additional energy produced through cooperation. The sum is greater than the parts. For job seekers this is networking at its highest form, finding ways to connect and benefit everyone around you, knowing that those benefits come back to you, often in unexpected or unpredictable ways.
Habit 7: Sharpen the saw Self renewal is about continually strengthening your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual self, according to Covey. He recommends continually “sharpening the saw” to improve in each of these areas, creating what he calls an upward spiral. Job seekers can do this by continually improving these core areas of job search: Self-marketing (resume, online presence, networking), skills update (volunteering, interning, mentoring), and personal presentation (including interviewing). Invest time in sharpening each of these areas. Get external feedback about how you are doing and act on what you learn so your job search is as strong as it can be.
While “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is not specifically about job search, I recommend it to job seekers. Applying these seven habits to your job search will bring great results.
Editor’s note: We were saddened by the passing of Dr. Stephen Covey, whose wisdom has given us inspiration and motivation.