May 9, 2014
There is a joke that says eventually we all quote our mothers, and in many cases we turn into them. Maybe you’ve experienced that feeling of adopting your mother’s all-knowing tone as you correct your neighbor’s unruly children or chastise your roommate for not eating enough leafy green vegetables. These utterances are often followed by a moment of horror as you hear your mother’s voice emanating from your own body.
While usually told in jest and accompanied by an eye roll, not only does the old we-all-become-our-mothers joke often ring true, but motherly advice becomes particularly relevant the older we get—including in the world of job search. I polled friends, family and the Simply Hired office to come up with a list of our ten favorite “Mom-isms” and how they can help you in your job search.
1. “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
We all know it doesn’t serve us well in life to be judgmental or rude. As you job search, interview and network, it’s even more important to remain polished and kind, just like Mom always taught you. And remember, never badmouth your old employer. About.com’s job search expert Allison Doyle cautions job seekers: “Regardless of why you left, don’t speak badly about your previous employer. The interviewer may wonder if you will be bad-mouthing his company next time you’re looking for work.”
2. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
If you were like me, your first lesson about perseverance came from the lips of your mother cloaked in a sing-song voice as you attempted to swing across the monkey bars or ride your bike without training wheels. It seems so simple, and yet it’s one of the best pieces of advice my mom ever gave me. Job search can be hard, especially when you’ve been unemployed for a while or you’re unhappy in your current position. Not only is it important to remain positive, but it’s also important to just keep putting yourself out there.
3. “Eat your vegetables.”
OK, I’m not saying that eating your vegetables is actually going to tangibly affect your job search or interviewing, although those leafy greens will definitely help your overall health and possibly improve your concentration. Rather, think about being a small child sitting at the kitchen table as your mother forced you to choke down those despised Brussels sprouts. Sometimes we have to do things that we don’t like. The same can be said at beginning to job search, writing a cover letter, or updating your resume. In fact some of these most mundane and boring activities are the ones that in the end will make your job search “healthy.” So pick up your fork, take a deep breath, swallow those Brussels sprouts, and write that cover letter.
4. “Anyone can work hard. In order to stand out, you have to work smart.”
In high school I struggled to be successful in Advanced Placement Biology. After one particularly difficult exam, I lashed out at my parents, whining about how unfair it was that I received a poor grade. I will always remember my mother’s response, “Sweetie, you keep telling us how hard you worked. In my opinion, you need to stop working hard and start working smart.” I have never forgotten those words, and they have changed the way that I approach work and job search. Rather than spending hours sifting through classified advertisements for jobs, use job search engines like Simply Hired to find the right jobs to apply to.
5. “There’s no shame in asking for help. Better to ask for help and do the job right than to do it on your own and do it wrong.”
In job search, just as in life, it can be difficult to admit that you need help, and even embarrassing in some cases. Sometimes we don’t want to admit to ourselves that we can’t quite get the job done alone. Some of the best jobs are found through networking. According to Jobvite’s 2014 “Job Seeker Nation Study,” 40 percent of job seekers found their “favorite or best” job through personal connections. So Mom is right, not only is there no shame in asking for help as you navigate the tricky waters of job search, it actually increases your odds of finding a job that you love.
6. “Believe in yourself and what you’re capable of.”
The best moms know that it’s their job to not only love their children, but also to inspire them to do their best every day. According to the group of people I spoke to about their mothers, this piece of advice was one that almost everyone had received at one point or another. Job search can be a grueling process, particularly in a changing economy, and it can be easy to succumb to disappointment and negativity. However, if you don’t believe in yourself, it becomes obvious to those around you, and it’s harder for others to believe in you.
7. “You don’t know if you like it until you try it.”
Picture it: you’re sitting at the dinner table with your family, nose scrunched as you push questionable looking meatloaf around your plate dejectedly. Your mom looks at you and gently reminds you, “You don’t know if you like it, until you try it.” Just like you at the dinner table, in job search and well-rounded careers it’s important to take risks and try new things. Without tasting that meatloaf, or applying to that little-known start-up, you don’t know what you like, what you don’t like and what you’ll want.
8. “When one door closes, another door opens.”
We’ve all had disappointments in life, and some of those career-related disappointments in particular can be difficult to swallow. However, sometimes it’s important to focus on the positives that career change can bring. My mom always encourages me to look at disappointments and difficulties in my life as opportunities for growth and change, and that’s a great thing to keep in mind when exploring a career change.
9. “The heart wants what it wants.”
Sometimes we are all so caught up in the business of life that we struggle to take time to appreciate and find meaning in what we’re doing. One woman I spoke to said that her mother reminds her that it’s always important to listen to what her heart wants rather than getting caught up in the turmoil of her brain’s calculations and strategies. When looking for your next job, it’s easy to be distracted by your list of criteria and the pros and cons. Sometimes it’s more important to take a moment and ask yourself what you truly want.
10. “When you’re little, your problems are little, and as you grow so do they, so enjoy each stage of your life.”
This may be my favorite piece of advice that a good friend shared with me. Her mother always cautions her to not think too carefully of the past or the future, but rather to enjoy the moment. It’s important to enjoy every part of our lives, and job search is no different. Enjoy the excitement of exploring new opportunities, meeting new people and getting the chance to advance your career.
Mother’s Day is a wonderful day to say thank you to the women who have shaped our lives and taught us so much. Who knew that they taught us so much about job search, too?
Happy Mother’s Day (and thanks mom) from Simply Hired!