Job Opportunities: Confronting Opportunity Through Life

Last Sunday, my son overslept and could not go to church with the rest of the family. Accordingly, he went to a later service by himself. When I dropped him off at the church, I said to him, “Remember that you may sit down next to a girl who you may someday marry or a person who may someday give you a job.” I don’t think he really found my advice to be all that useful, but it remains a common theme as I try to guide him into adulthood.

Everyone we meet can influence our lives in ways that we have never imagined and in ways that we do not expect. It is important to keep this in mind as we go through our daily routines. You do not know who you are going to encounter so it is always important to make sure that whoever crosses your path will do so seeing you in your best light.

Building positive relationships is important to ensure that you can find jobs as you go through life. Indeed, in terms of getting a job, I believe that being able to build relationships is far more important than being able to do a job because the more people you know, the greater your chances of being recommended for a position. Of course, part of building positive relationships requires that you perform your jobs well, so ability does often go hand in hand with relationship building.

Whether you are a day laborer or a professional, or anything in between, people will enjoy working with you if they like you as a person. They will want to hire you or retain your services if you have personal traits that they admire and respect. In contrast, if you do not display positive traits, a bad reputation will precede you into every job opportunity.

I try to live by the following code, although I admit that I probably do not always succeed. Nevertheless, the closer we can come to these standards, the more likely we are going to find ourselves confronting opportunity through life.

Treat Everyone With the Respect that You would Like to be Treated: This is a simple standard. If you precede someone into a building, hold the door open so that they can enter as well. If you make eye contact with someone, smile to acknowledge them. If someone makes a mistake, try to be understanding. All of the little courtesies that you can extend to the people around you should be extended. If you treat people with respect, they should return it to you, and opportunity will follow.

Never Gossip: When I have worked in corporate environments, or volunteered for organizations, or done anything that required two more adults to come together, I have found that gossip tends to pervade discussions. At this point, I try not to talk about anyone behind their backs unless I have something positive to say or I am talking to my wife. (You should always feel that you can tell your spouse anything!) The less you gossip about others, the less you are likely to be the subject of gossip and rumor.

Let Kids be Kids: If you are involved in any youth activity, remember that kids are still just kids and they are not going to have the focus that adults will have. It may be frustrating at times when you are coaching a child or acting as a scoutmaster, but you need to be patient and understanding when a child does not perform to expectation. Remember that it is your job to get the best behavior out of the child so you will bear some of the blame. More importantly, parents will remember how you treated their child and you never know which parent might be an employer looking to hire new employees.

Remember the People Who have Helped You Succeed: No one succeeds without help. Always remember the people who have helped you and find ways to both reward them and to help them as you advance through life. Also, keep in mind that if you help others to succeed, they are much more likely to return the favor!

Always Try to Meet New People: Make it a point of effort to always try to expand your circle of acquaintances. Get to know Facebook, Linked-In and similar social and professional networking sites and use them to stay in touch with people and to grow relationships. Look for social and professional organizations that bring similarly situated people together, such as church groups, industry groups and similar organizations.

Although these five standards are very simple, they have worked well for me. Treat adults with respect and children with patience. Never gossip. Always repay the kindness and support of your friends and always look for new relationships. Can it be as simple as that? Do you think that these standards will open the door to opportunity?

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5 Responses to Job Opportunities: Confronting Opportunity Through Life

  1. Ann says:

    I can add another one to your list.

    Never complain about a client or their product unless you’re absolutely positive that you know everyone in hearing distance! In advertising there was a story making the rounds about a couple of people going down in the elevator and complaining about or negatively commenting on a client and their product. Unbeknownst to them, one of the people in the elevator was a new marketing director for that client, who took offense. The firm lost the client.

    Personally, I don’t suffer stupidity very well, no matter the standing of the person. Had a boss give me a piece of good advice related to that — if you can’t respect the person, at least respect their position. Kinda fond of that one! 🙂

  2. Karen says:

    I like what you had to say. It is so hard to remember, especially when you are busy or feeling bad. But this gives me incentive to keep trying to treat people right even when they don’t treat you the same way.

  3. Luke says:

    Working in retail, I run into all sorts of people in all sorts of moods. I remember one time in particular, when I was working two jobs…at my day job, where I’m in a managment postion, I had an out of town customer lay me up and down about something that wasn’t my fault, the stores fault, or their fault really. Long trip maybe, but he was just the most obnoxious type of rude. Whatever I said, I’ll go about my day. That evening I was working an information center/gift store in the next town over and low and behold here comes this fellow and his family. I think he recognized me straight off but didn’t say anything. His wife asked a lot of questions, looked at a lot of stuff, and they ended up buying several nice pieces of collectors native american art from us. As they packed up and left, I found a left over book from the artist who’s painting they’d bought, that the artist had signed and left for anyone who bought one of his paintings. As I ran out the door to catch them, I found the man frantically turning the key on his dead battery. I gave him his book, pulled my truck over and jump started him. He very humbly apologized for his earlier behavior and I acted as if I didn’t even recall it, as to show him I wasn’t bothered. It ended up being a very pleasant encounter.

  4. Dawn says:

    Great advice. As I’m going through my day I also try to remember that the way people are acting may have nothing to do with me. You never know what has happened to someone just before speaking with you, so if they are short or rude, they may be reacting to news they just received. Sometimes people just need a second chance.

  5. Rob says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more, David — especially the part about building positive relationships and getting jobs. At a previous job I worked closely with a project manager for several years until he left the company. Two years later I was interviewing for another job. The interviewer glanced at my resume, noticed the company I was currently working for, and asked if I knew so-and-so. Sure enough, the interviewer was referring to my former colleague, who just happened to be one of his neighbors. Of course, without my knowledge I had already been “pre-screened” for this interview as a result of a good relationship. I got the job and have been there for nearly three years. Be nice to everyone; you never know when your future is paying you a visit.

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