How to Sharpen Your Saw for a Better Job Search #SevenHabits #StephenCovey

The seventh habit is “sharpen your saw.”  How do you do that as a job seeker?

Your number one priority is (usually) to land your next job. Finding a job can be a full-time job! It’s emotionally and mentally draining. By the end of the day, you are probably ready to drop.  How in the world can you sharpen your saw when you are in urgent, fire-fighting mode, and exhausted?

How to sharpen your saw when exhausted?

Let me suggest that this is a great time to study and read.  Start with the job descriptions that you are looking at. Do you fully understand all of the phrases, words, and acronyms? If you do, could you write a paragraph or a page about each of them?  In this writing, you could include some of your mini-stories to make the ideas more relevant to you, and make your value-add more relevant to the job requirements.

When you do this you are polishing your professional skills. You are preparing messages that you might use in an interviews or networking situations. Taking the time to sit back and sharpen your saw… to think about what you have done and how it is relevant to current job requirements, is valuable, well-spent time!

Sharpen Your Saw Through Self-reflection

Recently I’ve been reevaluating my role in JibberJobber, and understanding my duties as a product manager. This has been for a long time, my dream job.  I’m pretty much self-taught, since I never worked at a company that used the title product manager. But I’ve been doing most or all of the PM tasks, including interfacing with my developers, customers, stake holders, designers, and planning roadmaps, go to market strategies, and figuring out what analytics and metrics make sense to monitor.

As a product manager for JibberJobber my family (and team) completely depends on my ability to make enough right decisions, and lead my team to deliver the right solutions for our customers. The alternative is shutting down the business.  I’m not interested in that.

So, I am studying project manager topics. Even though I haven’t been formally trained as a product manager (I have a CIS degree, an MBA, was a developer, and a general manager for a software firm), I’ve done all or most of the tasks that a product manager does.

But am I doing them… well?

That’s what I’m refining.

I’m taking time to learn my craft, and to get better at it. I need to get better for the sake of my team and my customers.  All of this will result in goodness for me and my family, as well as everyone involved with JibberJobber.

When should you sharpen your saw?  Right now.  And moving forward, regularly.

In my last job I spent all my time executing and performing, not studying and sharpening my own saw. When I hit the job market my saw was dull and virtually useless. I had to play catchup. During the four years that I was creating Pluralsight courses I let my JibberJobber saw get dull.  My team worked on it, but I didn’t put as much time and effort into it as I should have. And now I find myself doing catch-up.

I’m resolved to not let this slip again. Continual education, either through reading, videos, or conversations with others, I will not let my skills get dull.  Even in a job search you owe it to yourself to spend a solid 30 minutes a day sharpening your saw.

Sharpen Your Saw with Online Courses

I have created dozens of soft skill courses on Pluralsight. There are thousands of hard skill courses there, too. Here are my top courses I recommend to job seekers.

The beauty of online courses is that they are on-demand. You can watch them when it makes the most sense to you. Watch a little bit, pause, come back when you are ready. Do it from your home, your bed, your career, the gym, etc.

“Sharpen your saw” doesn’t mean you have to have the perfect environment and schedule. Make this a priority and take advantage of every chance you can to sharpen your saw, even if it doesn’t feel perfect!