Lean In-Talent Out

Lean In-Talent Out

Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, has caused quite a stir with her new book, Lean In. While her goal is to empower women in the workplace, however, her advice has equal value for job seekers of both genders.

She tells women to “lean in” rather than hold back if they want to get ahead in the office. Job seekers should be similarly proactive if they want to be successful in the job market, but they should “talent out.”

There are many facets to Sandberg’s message, but the book’s overarching theme is as simple as it is profound: you can’t just say you’re the equal of everyone else, you also have to act that way.

The idea doesn’t ignore all of the social and political biases women have faced at work. And, it doesn’t mean that women have to imitate men. The point – at least according to Sandberg – is that women have to overcome the self-limiting boxes they’ve put themselves in if they want to be successful in their profession, craft or trade.

Now, whether or not you agree with her prescription for women, the view that people are only as impactful as they believe they can be is an important truism for both women and men in the job market.

All too often, those in transition accept the label, the perspective and the self-definition of a “job seeker” – a supplicant for work. Consciously or unconsciously, they buy into the self-limiting notion that they are not the equal of employers when searching for a job.

That view fundamentally alters the dynamic in the job market. Instead of a respectful interaction between two parties for their mutual benefit, it becomes a situation in which one party makes a unilateral decision that optimizes its benefit while eliminating the benefit to everyone else save one –the single new hire. All the other job seekers can do is shuffle along to the next unequal interaction and the one after that.

If you want to know how you can avoid this trap, click http://www.weddles.com/seekernews/issue.cfm?Newsletter=339 to reach the latest edition of my Newsletter for Job Seekers.

You can also sign up for this free newsletter at the top of my Home Page at http://www.weddles.com.

Work Strong,

1 Comment

  1. A number of years ago, my husband died at a young age, and I found myself with two small children to raise while also working and finishing my education. I heard much advice about my struggles with establishing a career, most of it from female friends. One, in particular, told me that I should just seek work that would sustain my family, and not be overly bothered about the kind of work or what I would be doing. My goal should be, first and foremost, to think about my children, and be willing to take a lesser job, because that would be the best thing for them.

    I bridled at that notion, and thanks to this column, I now have a name for it–job supplicant. I could not stop myself then from leaning in, and that attitude had mostly to do with my own sense of competence and my need to perform work that fed my passions.

    Fast forwarding many years, I find myself a 50-something who is in transition. As I reflect on that conversation and the resistance I felt then to the central argument being posited by my friend, I am especially grateful now that I resisted then, and instead, leaned in. Far from being a corporate titan, I have nonetheless built a strong and successful career, doing work that I love and that feeds my intellect and my soul. If that had not happened, I expect I would be in a fine kettle of fish today, as continue to apply the approach of career activist to the task of seeking my next professional chapter.