May 3rd, 2018

What the Infinity Stones Can Teach Job Seekers

Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War made a mind-boggling $641 million dollars in its opening weekend. For the uninitiated, the movie pits “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” against Thanos, the monomaniacal “Mad Titan,” driven to bring balance to the cosmos through the acquisition of the six fabled Infinity Stones. Each stone embodies a different aspect of the universe: reality, space, time, power, mind and soul. They grant their possessor the ability to manipulate each facet of existence. If you wield all the stones? You’re unstoppable. You needn’t be an intergalactic tyrant to appreciate the stones’ abilities. They even have positive lessons for job seekers.

The Reality Stone: Facing the Facts

If you’re a job seeker or employee desirous of promotion, an honest self-assessment is a solid starting point. How does your brain work? What tasks does it perform best? Conversely, with what tasks does it struggle? What topics don’t hold your attention? Find trustworthy mentors and peers to provide constructive criticism, perspective and objectivity. Our own subjectivity can cut both ways. We can often be either our own harshest critics or in denial of some personal weaknesses. Once we make a balanced audit of ourselves we can both leverage our strengths and work on improving our weaknesses. Work will always be work, but loving what you do and being good at it can make the tough days tolerable and the good days even better.

BLOG | What the Infinity Stones Can Teach Job Seekers via @Ajilon #InfinityWar

The Space Stone: Break Out of Your Comfort Zones

Many of us desire employment opportunities, raises and promotions but don’t want to take any risks. And this is perfectly understandable, but wanting to better our professional standing while staying put in our cozy comfort zones is next to impossible. Force yourself to branch out. Try learning a new skill. Volunteer for a special project at work. Always be ready to assume new and greater levels of responsibility. Don’t view these as risks but opportunities to grow as a professional and to prove your ability in full view of watchful managers always seeking fresh talent. Join an extracurricular organization (e.g. Toastmasters, Rotary Club, a local professional networking group), and take an active role if you’re able. Also, don’t underestimate the value of a recruiter. As Tony Stark said in the first Iron Man, “Sometimes you gotta run before you can walk.”

The Time Stone: Use It Wisely

While Marvel movies make sizable fortunes at the box office, declining ticket sales have rocked the film industry. However, it’s not that people have stopped enjoying entertainment. They’ve just shifted to home streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. So, while content creation has spiked, what movie studios have been reminded of is that no one is creating more hours in the day. Time is the one truly finite and nonrenewable resource.

Employers place a high priority on the ability of workers to prioritize their time. If you’re among a handful of comparable candidates who can all do the job well, who gets the job or promotion may come down to who can do the job fastest. The truism “time is money” has only become truer in a highly competitive, globalized economy.

How can you improve your efficiency and redeem your time? Listen to audiobooks and podcasts while doing chores or working out. Allot yourself an extra 15 minutes for major tasks. Get to work 15 minutes early. This gives you time to get your coffee, greet your coworkers and get settled at your station so you can hit the ground running. Budget your time as carefully as you would your finances. Limit your time scrolling through social media feeds which can be a big time suck. Take time to brainstorm prior to starting a project to preemptively save time.

The Power Stone: “With Great Power…”

We live in an individualist culture with an innate allergy to the imposition of arbitrary power from above. Closed, hierarchical structures in business have been giving way to flatter, more open and egalitarian organizational arrangements. Collaboration is favored over commands as a means of achieving corporate goals. Power has been diffused downward in organizations. However, as we know, “with great power, comes great responsibility.” Managers are seeking self-starters who can be trusted to make decisions and execute duties without having to be told precisely what to do or be directly supervised at all times. Be a good steward of job tasks delegated to you, and professional accolades and advancements will likely follow.

The Mind Stone: Destress So You Can Find Success

Mindfulness is the latest fad in business circles. Stripped of the buzzword-y baggage, mindfulness can mean just taking at least 10 minutes a day to disconnect from all the alerts, notifications, emails, tweets and tasks in order to meditate, relax, decompress and re-center yourself emotionally and mentally so you make decisions logically rather than emotively. Mindfulness fosters proactive rather than reactive thoughts, words and actions.

Also, be a lifelong learner. Read widely and not just of professional journals, magazines and blogs (even this one). Reading different books is like having a diverse and well-balanced diet for your brain. We are storytelling creatures. Fiction presents lessons in narrative form, and that helps us internalize literary wisdom more naturally than mere didactic instruction.

The Soul Stone: Not Worth Losing Even If It Means Gaining the Whole World

[Very indirect potential spoiler] Some would say Thanos’ pursuit of this stone in particular was his point of no return; the moment when he went from misguided crusader to truly malevolent monster. His single-minded ambition overcame any vestige of his humanity. We can condemn his actions, but what moral shortcuts would we take or have we taken in pursuit of our own career goals? There are ways to aggressively sell yourself to employers without selling your very soul. However, if achieving such goals would cost us those things more precious than professional success and public recognition, such as our family, friends and ethical integrity, then we have not only failed as organizations and managers but as citizens and people.

Job seekers…assemble!

So, we’ve thrown down the (infinity) gauntlet. Will you pick it up? Find your next job, or submit your resume today!

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