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Perception acts like a filter, causing us to act in certain ways and to notice some things, but not others. Earlier exercisesconsisted of assessing your personal perception and then forming a correct self-perception to ensure that every action you take during the job hunting process resonates with an attractive tone. Now we need to focus on your perception of the job search process itself, as it will either support or negate that attractive tone. Keeping your perception of the process free from limiting filters is essential, because those filters adversely affect your tone and cause your process to lose — or never even gain — momentum. Your perception is limited when you personalizethe process; put time pressureon it; attach a labelto it; or simply don’t believeit will yield what you want. The good news is that you can remove these limiting filters simply by choosing to perceive the process differently. PERCEIVING YOUR PROCESS WITHOUT LIMITING FILTERS On a sheet of paper, write down your answers to these questions: 1. Does searching for a job make you feel vulnerable or that you’re being judged? 2. Do you think you’ll find the job you want within a certain amount of time? 3. Do you think of the job search as being either “easy” or “difficult?” 4. Do you believe you will get the job you want? Now let’s examine these questions together: 1. Does searching for a job make you feel vulnerable or that you’re being judged? If you’ve answered “yes,” then you have personalizedthe process. When you personalizethe process, you narrow your perception of yourself. Every rejection letter feels like a personal rejection, and it takes time to recover. Your tone becomes doubtful — even angry — which only brings you more rejection. Your process becomes a cycle of doubt and rejection, instead of a path that progressively leads you to the goal you are seeking. Now here’s an alternative perception: this is nota one-sided process. You’re interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing you. You’re judging whether a prospective employer’s offer is something you even want. And, if they don’t pick you, chances are they probably don’t meet yourneeds either. 2. Do you think you’ll find the job you want within a certain amount of time? If you answered “yes,” then you’re putting time pressureon your process. Many people believe a successful job search will take only a month or two. But what happens if you don’t find a job within that time? As you get closer to the end of that period and still have no job, your tone will begin to resonate as “desperate.” And the time pressure may distract you from performing the steps in your process mindfully. Remember, however, that you chose that limitation, which means you can un-choose it. Give your job search process as much time as it requires. Don’t put any time pressure on it. You can’t force or control timing. 3. Do you think of the job search as being either “easy” or “difficult?” If you do, then you’ve labeledyour process. Labeling the process as anything means you view it from a single perspective, and you only act from that perspective. Perhaps you’ve attached the “easy” label because you think this process requires minimal effort. All you have to do is scan the want ads, stuff your resume in a few envelopes, and sit back and wait for the phone to ring. As a result, you ignore alternative avenues such as networking, or proactively arranging informational interviews. And, unfortunately, while scanning want ads is the most common method, it is the most ineffective way to find the job you want. Conversely, perhaps you’ve attached the “difficult” label to this process because you think you need to be a marketing expert to even write your own resume. You see so many steps in the process that you don’t know where to begin. As a result, you perform the steps inconsistently or irrationally, and your process never gains momentum. And because either label causes you to minimize your effort, it also minimizes your results. You become frustrated, and your attractive tone suffers. Don’t attach any label to your process. Think of it as just aprocess — a series of actions leading to the job you want. This keeps your perspective broad enough to be creative with your process, giving you the power to be in control of your approach to it, instead of having it control you. 4. Do you believe you will get the job you want? Maybe you think the process will get you ajob, but not the job you want. Maybe you do believe, but you fear that there are not enough jobs, or that there is too much competition. These are all “I don’t believe” answers. When you don’t believe that the process will yield what you want, it won’t. Your disbelief resonates and may be interpreted by interviewers as disbelief in yourself. As you become “desperate” to get a job, you waste time chasing jobs you know you don’t want. Your belief that there are not enough jobs or that there is too much competition causes you to focus on that instead of on the job that’s right for you. Believe in your process — trust it. There isn’t a single good reason not to believe, but there are so many good reasons to believe. Believing is essential to keeping your tone attractive and maintaining your motivation. MAINTAINING YOUR PERCEPTION OF THE PROCESS WITHOUT LIMITING FILTERS Now, take out another sheet of paper and answer these questions again, this time without limiting filters. Just as you should use your Accomplishments List and Gratitude List to maintain your perception of yourself, you should use this exercise to keep your perception of the process free from limiting filters. Remember that a shift in perception can only occur with conscious effort. Practice is essential. Periodically ask yourself whether you’re personalizing the process, putting time pressure on it, attaching a label to it, or not believing in it. If so, try to remove these filters, which might otherwise keep you from getting the job you want. Laura Flores is a career expert and principal of Massachusetts-based Laura Flores Associates. She can be reached at [email protected]

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