No Smoking Policy

Do you have a no smoking policy with friends, family members, colleagues and mentors? This has nothing to do with nicotine sticks. The no smoking policy I’m referring to is an agreement no smoke will be blown when giving you constructive feedback. When looking for a job, you need the people in your life’s circle giving you their honest take on how you are presenting yourself to others. Whether or not you decide to act on their feedback is up to you, but you definitely want a free exchange of information so you have a basic sense of where you may be missing the mark on the impression you make.

Many job seekers assume people who know them well will give them an honest assessment. Not so. On the scale of straight forwardness (is that a word?), I’d say I rank a 9.5 out of a possible 10. Still, I struggle at times with delivering much needed constructive feedback. I doubt I’m the only one. Most of us are wired to want to make people feel good about themselves. This is especially the case if we know someone is a bit down or going through a tough time. To avoid hurting feelings or awkward situations, we tend to let those we want to provide positive support to walk around with funky breath, scraggly beards, unflattering clothes, negative attitudes, sloppy work and the like. That’s hardly a favor when you consider how essential it is for job seekers to make a good impression. It’s a huge piece of the how to get a job pie.

Friends and family knowing how beneficial constructive feedback could be for you isn’t enough to get them to open up. As a job seeker, you need to offer a sip of liquid truth serum to those in your life in the form of a direct conversation. Make it clear any and all feedback is wanted and will be received without consequence to the relationship. Share your no smoking policy with sincerity and the acknowledgment you are putting them in the position of having to tell you difficult things. Demand these individuals challenge your disposition and remarks if they feel you’ve gone back on your agreement to receive their opinions in a positive and open minded way.

Before I close, I’d like to suggest taking a moment to think back on those in your life who may have already tried to tell you the things you need to hear. How did you handle what they had to say? Did you lash out? Are they regretting their honesty? If so, call them and apologize. Let them know you recognize the value of candid commentary and will do a better job of hearing what they have to say in the future. Do what you can to see how they were being more helpful than those who simply told you everything is great. That’s not discounting the value of surrounding yourself with positive people. It’s simply saying avoiding the opportunity to help someone grow and improve for the sake of being positive, has negative consequences.

Now to close, if you can institute a no smoking policy and live up to your end of the bargain by taking the feedback in the spirit it was intended, you’ll stand a better chance of landing a new job. Send your ego on a mini-vacation and give it a try.

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