Dead Wood. No Passion.

Yesterday at a church picnic, I was handling the grill, flipping hamburgers for a big crowd. While gladly performing this role, I spent a couple hours chatting (and networking) with fellow parishioners. (Remember: Network all the time. Everywhere. With everyone.)

In one conversation, a friend who had recently taken on a senior management role with a growing company, told me he was having a very hard time filling a key opening with his firm. The problem was not quantity. There were plenty of applicants, plenty of resumes. No, the problem was, as he put it: "I'm seeing a lot of dead wood. No passion."

I was sorry to hear that. I wondered how many excellent candidates, with strong capabilities, were disqualifying themselves by coming across poorly.

If you are a job seeker, do you have any idea how you are coming across to hiring managers?

Here are five suggestions that should safeguard you from the perception that you are just "dead wood" with no passion.

Positive Energy - Although it's a bummer to be out of a job, you can't let it drag you down. Somehow you must master your outlook. Stop holding on to the past. Let go of the banana. Remind yourself that you are still intact, that you still have your strengths. Focus on your objective. Focus on the future.

Continuous Research - Anyone committed to their job search nowadays has to be in continuous research mode. In other words, make sure that your feelers are out for information about what's happening in (and around) the business world. If you are not already a news junkie, become one. Stay abreast of what's going on in the fields of your greatest interest.

Problem Solving - The employers that you would like to work for have problems. Do you know what they are? Do you see yourself as the solution? Can you convey that to them?

Lifelong Learning - When an employer looks at you, do they see Miss Havesham (the Dickens' character from Great Expectations), someone whose clock stopped years ago? Or do they see someone who is learning, trying new things, experimenting, and ever curious about the world?

Passion - Finally, let's look at passion. What is it? And how do you display it in your demeanor? Passion is strongly felt love for something, that shows up in your eyes, your face, your gestures, and your voice. You can't fake it.

If you've got passion for something, it'll drive the positive energy, the research, the solutions thinking, and the learning. It will be the fire that burns within your personal engine of success.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, July 13, 2009

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