An Oasis in the desert?
For many job search can feel like chasing an oasis in the desert. Wading knee-deep through endless sand while facing extremes in temperature is a very real analogy for those engaged in a quest for that next position. The longer the journey goes the more difficult it becomes and the frustration of seeing what looks like an oasis, yet in reality is a mirage, can be an all too regular occurrence.
In business it's much the same and I'm often heard saying that successful job search is a business in itself. It's the business of YOU Limited clarifying your positioning, promoting your message to a clearly defined target audience and then improving your performance over time.
Successful job search is about defining, finding and securing your next position. Unfortunately, this rarely happens overnight, it's personal (it happens to you and not the organisation you work for) and there will always be bumps in the road before arriving at the end destination.
At the weekend I watched a DVD, which is in part the inspiration for this blog post, in addition to its title.
Whether you like their music or not, one of the most influential bands of the nineties is without doubt Oasis. The self-proclaimed rock and roll stars formed in 1991 and within five years made history by playing two dates at Knebworth in Hertfordshire to an audience of over a quarter of a million people. An incredible journey by any standard and one born out of five key principles I took from their story and outline below:
1) They were prepared to stand out – when Oasis formed, the Manchester music scene was deep in rave culture with house music being a force to be reckoned with. Real music in the form of drums, guitars and vocals was somewhat out of fashion, to some extent forgotten and certainly not at first glance a winning ticket in the race to the top of the charts.
This made Oasis different and when the time was right enabled them to take the world by storm and achieve what they did in such a short space of time. Many of the rave bands that defined the late eighties and early nineties are now the ones forgotten. Oasis by being different and prepared to stand out, are still remembered, revered and respected.
[In the job market taking the same approach as everyone else is never a recipe for success. While it may feel safe to blend in, it's being prepared to stand out that gets you noticed and ultimately hired.]
2) They were driven by passion and worked incredibly hard – in the beginning and throughout their career they had a spirit and passion that was lacking in many of the other bands of the era. They played the music they believed in despite it not being the flavour of the day and communicated their story and experience of life through powerful lyrics. Although unheard at the beginning they would soon be speaking to a generation.
It was never about the money, it was always about the music. Passion kept them in the game long enough to get discovered. They would practice relentlessly and without reward at the Boardwalk club in Manchester. Despite the reputation of drinking, partying and whatever else (one of the downsides of their increasing fame, fortune and success), in the early days it was practice, practice and more practice.
In part driven by passion and the belief they had a sound that was special their determination to get better and better meant just that – they became the best they could be with a sound like nobody else.
Passion and diligent practice kept them going through the ups and downs (and certainly more downs in the beginning), so that when their big opportunity showed up they were there to capitalise.
[Passion is essential to a successful career – if it's just about the money, when times get tough it's much more difficult to keep going. I always advise people to follow their passion and not the paycheck. With passion you'll work harder, and your energy and enthusiasm will shine through. Pursue your passion relentlessly and you'll gain the attention of others. While the financial rewards may not be there at the start, they'll be sure to follow.]
3) They created their own opportunities – Oasis were discovered by Alan McGee, co-owner of Creation Records who having seen them perform at a club in Glasgow signed them on the spot. At the time the band had no money and cobbled together enough cash to hire a van to get them to Scotland.
Was it luck or fate that McGee was in the audience (reportedly one of only seven people there) that night? Success is often the result of hard work over an extended period of time and the willingness to explore opportunities others turn down as being too difficult or inconvenient. It was only a matter of time before the band's determination and hard work paid off – because they believed it, they kept going long enough to make it happen.
[Finding success in the job market is all about belief. Believing is seeing, which means taking a proactive approach to uncover opportunities in the place I call the 'hidden market'. This is the place where opportunities exist before being advertised on job boards or placed with professional recruiters. If you're clear about what you want and approach the hidden market in the right way, while opportunities may not be visible at the outset, they'll soon be revealed – it's only a matter of time!]
4) They used adversity to create fuel for their fire – even once signed it wasn't all plain sailing. As most bands do they ventured across the Atlantic to try their hand in America. Following a disastrous debut performance Noel Gallagher, the principal songwriter went AWOL and for a time thought about quitting the band.
While in a state of despair he turned to music and penned 'Talk Tonight', one of the most haunting and iconic songs he ever wrote and one of my personal favourites. If he had stopped at the first sign of adversity there'd be no 'Wonderwall' or '(What's the Story) Morning Glory?', which was named at the 2010 Brit Awards as one of the greatest British albums of all time.
[The job market and life in general are fraught with rejection and challenges. What matters is whether you choose to keep going. For me the Japanese proverb, fall down seven times, stand up eight is an important lesson in the power of perseverance.]
5) They realised it wasn't about them – despite the arrogance and swagger that defined the band's image (particularly in the form of Liam Gallagher, lead vocalist) they knew their success was down to their fans. Through their music they tapped into the feelings, frustrations and aspirations of a generation and connected to them emotionally.
At the end of the DVD, Noel Gallagher comments that their success was all about how they made the audience feel. That's what defined them, not them as individuals, not as a band, not even the music, but how their message resonated with those that mattered most.
[In the job market, success is about communicating a message, which resonates with your target audience. To know your target audience, you have to first know your direction of travel. While many focus initially on drafting their CV / resume, without careful planning this is wasted effort. Knowing your audience informs your message and helps you stand out. At the interview stage, the priority is the interviewer's experience of you and how you make them feel – this determines whether you progress to the next stage of the recruitment process or not.]
Supersonic is now available on Amazon. Whether you're an Oasis fan or not, the film is a unique insight into one of the most original and iconic bands of all time. What messages you take from it is up to you, but it's my belief that through the power of observation, if we look hard enough, there's inspiration and insight in everything.
So, if you're feeling lost in the desert, take heed from the Oasis story – stay focused, keep going and success could be just around the corner!