We’d like to think that all of our decisions are rational, that we know how to tell the difference between an emotional response and a logical one, and that we are completely in charge of our emotions.
These are nice thoughts, but study after study proves us wrong on all accounts.
Just look at the world of sales and marketing. I’ve known salespeople and marketing gurus who are great at appealing to the prospect’s “logic” and “reason” and who build extremely convincing rational arguments. But those who linger there too long rarely make the sale.
Because to persuade someone to take action requires an emotional trigger. Yes…requires.
We can be convinced of something (actually believe it), but that doesn’t mean we are persuaded to do anything about it. More often than not, we need our emotions to compel us to take action.
A successful salesperson knows this and understands how to appeal to both the logical side as well as the emotional. (We need both because the emotion will trigger the sale, while the logic will allow us to rationalize why it was a good decision.)
So what does all of this mean for the job search?
In working with a lot of IT and scientific/technical management professionals, there is often a desire to appear extremely rational. After all, it is a much safer (comfortable) place full of logic and mathematics that often leads to conclusive answers. So naturally there is a tendency to take that approach both personally and professionally.
And while it’s true that being overcome with emotions can result in negative consequences, believe it or not, there is a danger of trying to deny the part emotion plays in our lives. This is especially true when it comes to a job search.
Much like in the sales process, we need to tap into our emotions for the “persuasion trigger,” that adrenaline that causes us to act. Without it, we can end up in endless debate (often with our internal selves) and somewhat delusional, mistaking our sound reasoning as protection from looking or doing something dumb. Of course, this protection also has a tendency to make us stagnant. (I’ve spoken with many a tech professional who proudly will declare that his or her use of sound logic has kept them from making stupid career mistakes. That’s nice, except for often it really just means they haven’t taken any risks either. Instead, they’ve just been waiting for a “rational” world to recognize their value.)
Also, when it comes to the job search process itself, logic and reason are often missing.
Hiring practices, job market forecasts, networking, and job search methods are all fraught with a certain level of silliness. They are often uncomfortable, outside of the proper order, and full of politics and human interaction (which are generally not known for being “rational”).
- We are emotional, and our emotions are at play during our job search. And that’s not always a bad thing!
- The people we are dealing with throughout the hiring process are also emotional, and just like we need to have an emotional trigger that requires us to act, so do they. (Most hiring decisions are made on “gut” feelings, no matter what else you may hear, more so than on pure logic and reason. The logic and reason usually justify the emotional [instinctual] decision.)
It just might be a better world if everything went according to a sound, well-reasoned plan, but it’s not likely to happen anytime soon. It reminds me of that other sales and marketing adage: If you want to be successful in your job search (career, life, etc.), to some extent, you have to
Succeed based on what is and not on what ought to be.