The Migrant Fisherman
So it's been four weeks in a new land, surrounded by new people, a new culture. Everywhere you look you're reminded of people going about their business in this a new strange environment. However, you're not yet part of this business. You sit on the outside, looking in. Inside the fishbowl people are hurrying off to their next meeting, their next appointment, engrossed by their need to get the job done. You're an expert in your field in your country and in your job for many years. There's a confidence of knowing the road home and a confidence in knowing what will, in all probability, happen tomorrow. That confidence now feels very far away. You feel exposed and bare. You may even second-guess yourself and your well-honed skills, just because you are outside of the fishbowl looking into it. So let’s dissect it a bit. How do you win and overcome these feelings that you are experiencing? How do you climb up over the lip and fall into the fishbowl? For you know that once you fall into the water down below that old familiarity may return. After all, you do know how to swim. You’ve been swimming for years. You know that once you get that job, familiarity will return. The question is, how do you break in. The pressure is on.
My own experience of job searching as a migrant has been interesting. There are phases that you go through. Each phase leads you to the next. Seeing as we are talking about fish bowls and fish, let us use a fishing analogy to explain the job search strategy. I have learned that a proper understanding of the job search process is like the preparation one would hopefully do before setting out on a fishing expedition. When you decide to go fishing you generally rely on knowledge of fishing from your younger years. When Grandpa took you fishing over the weekend. You might be good at it or you might be one of those with the gear but you don’t really get the results, fishing-wise. So too would be your approach to the job search strategy. You rely on your experience and fireside stories from friends who have done it too. That’s great, but remember the pressure is on now. You need to get results. This is the big one.
What should this process look like then? You first decide on the lake you will fish in. Then you research the fish in this lake. You learn what their habits are. You understand what they like to eat. You learn when would be the best time to approach these fish with your bait. This process is vitally important to ensure that you do not end up on the side of a lake tying your bait on a line and throwing it into the water, time after time as it disintegrates with your hope of catching the prize fish. You may eventually look into your bucket and find no bait left. At this point the fishing expedition is aimless and you leave for home rather dejected. Eventually, you may even give up the idea. There are no fish in that lake you may tell your friends around the fire. Yet, if you had been able to look below into the depths you may find the place teeming. Just so, is the job search. The fish are hidden and most of the time, so too are the jobs.
The first is a familiarization phase. In this phase, you should familiarize yourself with the market, who the players are and also how you may fit into this new market. Look for similarities and commonalities with the market you are coming from. Research the big fish, who are they and where do they congregate? What do they eat? What are they most likely to take a bite of.
The second is the preparation phase. In this phase, you prepare your tools; your fishing tackle. When last did you go through the tackle properly? You don’t want it seizing up as you hook the big one!? What are you fishing for? You can only know that if you attempt to know that fish and research it. In job search terms that means to research the company you want to approach. Learn about them.
Then you also prepare your bait. You must do this in accordance with what you know about the fish, right? Understand what they will go for. In other words, what are their needs? How do you fit into that? Tailor your CV for the job, update and check your social media presence, prepare your plan so that when you hook the big one you know how to reel it in without breaking the line by doing something weird or getting your line caught on a rock.
The third phase is the actual fishing phase. Go where the fish would be, based on your knowledge of the lake. Then throw your line in the water confidently, knowing that your bait is the best it could be for that type of fish. Reading the lake and the environment is a very important element here. If you fish where everyone else is fishing you will get the same result that everyone else is getting. You may get lucky and hook one but chances are it will be a little guy and you will wait for it. So read the industry and environment you are searching for a job in. Research it thoroughly and find the good spots. Just like in fishing the good spots are known by the inner circle of fishermen. Network with the ones in the know to find the good opportunities in the lake that is the job market.
For those who fish, you will know that there is always that guy or gal who catches the big ones. You see their pics on Facebook or see the trophy photos on the mantel above the fireplace. What you don’t see is how they prepare for each fishing expedition. The behind the scenes stuff.
The feeling of catching that big one is sure worth all the preparation. Even better when it happens soon after you have thrown your line in the water. The fisherman that have been fishing for days may even look at you and say, “How did he do that”.
Preparation my dear friends, preparation. Approach your job search the same way and you will net the big one. Those around you may even say, “How did you do that?”