The 5 R’s for Conquering Career Obstacles in 2012

Despite what we’re reading on myriad blogs this week, New Year’s resolutions aren’t bad – especially for job seekers, recent graduates and college students dealing with our new economic reality.

The trouble with resolutions isn’t the resolutions, but lack of preparedness required to make them a reality. Until we know what we’re doing wrong – and what needs to change to get it right – resolutions are just “happy talk”. The turn of a calendar page does nothing to change that.

Losing weight for instance, requires far more effort than saying “I’m going to eat less.” To accomplish our goal, we need a plan, a benchmark, an effective support group – and most important – we have to understand why we’re failing in the first place!
Same concept applies to our job search and early-stage career development. We must look at what we have been doing wrong – before we can change enough to succeed.

With that in mind, here are the 5 R’s for conquering career obstacles in 2012:


This is the best part of the New Year’s resolution process – and the easiest to adapt. What a new calendar DOES do well: it allows a fresh start. We feel enabled. You’re ready to leave our baggage behind…

For about 3 days.

Then… everything goes back to the way it was on December 13, and August 27 – and back to January 4 of 2011 when this same process occurred – and our motivation ended.
A sincere refresh – is an attitude. A passion. An “I’m not letting anything get in the way!” revelation independent of the day of the week, the mood we’re in or external issues that stand between us and our goals.

January 1 gives us this opportunity to refresh – with no strings attached. Ultimately, however, it’s up to us to maintain that attitude until we’ve accomplished something real.


Reality is a far more difficult process. Objectively viewing our situation requires us to take a good hard look at what we’ve done so far – and determine what has (and has not) helped us accomplish our goals. After all, there are people out there – perhaps less qualified – getting job offers and moving their career development forward. Why aren’t we?

To help move this realization process along, answer these questions:

  • If my career collateral (resume and cover letter) is perfect – why I am not getting interviews?
  • When I do get interviews, why am I not a Top 3 candidate… why do I so rarely get a call-back?
  • If my online presence is so amazing, why have no influencers noticed?
  • If I am so good at networking, why am I receiving so few introductions from those in my sphere of influence?

For most of us… once we answer these questions… we have our benchmark. This is where we start.

This is our reality.


Now we start moving forward… past the happy talk and sometimes harsh realities – into action.

Why? Because for most of us, here are the answers to questions asked above:

  • Compared to our competition, our resumes are not good enough
  • It is highly likely we are not skilled at interviewing – yet
  • If no one has noticed us online – we haven’t done enough to make ourself noticeable, and;
  • If we aren’t receiving introductions from our networks… we aren’t yet engaging

Time to reinvent! Get professional resume help (yes, help is affordable – or, Google “free resume help”). Work with someone to greatly improve your interview skills (if you don’t know someone – join a career-related Twitter chat to find a mentor and schedule informational interviews). Commit to both social and face-to-face networking two hours each day (anything less could be considered a waste of your time). Finally, commit to engaging: stop merely “liking”, “following” and “+1ing” – and actually TALK to people.

That’s the differentiator that gets you noticed!

You’ll reinvent because you are NOT yet as good as you think – or at least as good as your job seeking competition. Adjust your approach – and watch good things happen!


Ah… the simplest ‘R’ of them all: reciprocation. When we as job seekers and young careerists begin to present first-class career collateral, show progress with our interview skills and network effectively with passion – it’s amazing how many people are willing to help!

Now, return the favor. Help others around you. Share what you’ve learned. Follow the advice stated by many others: “give more than you take”.

When you hit this point in your resolution process… you know really doing something right.


We hear this all the time: “I’ve applied for 200 jobs online and haven’t gotten a single response!” Our reply, as you can imagine, usually invokes the definition of insanity often attributed to Einstein and Twain (“doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results”). At the very least, we say: “Don’t tell us about the work you’ve done… tell us what you’ve done that works.”

So we’ve saved the best ‘R’ – results – for last. Why? Because no matter what your goals may be, working hard and getting nowhere is the biggest single obstacle we’ll stare down.

Our advice: focus on those items that generate real results. What exactly did you do to improve your resume? What did you learn from the interview that did result in a call-back? What process did you follow to build a relationship online? What did you do to “win” today that you can do again tomorrow?

Define your desired results by setting tangible goals (i.e. a new resume completed by January 15; 10 new high-quality contacts via social media a week; 2 interviews per month, etc.). Build a support network to help you achieve them. Execute. And always focus on results.

For 2012, don’t scream out resolutions like “I’m going to lose weight”, “I’ll finally quit smoking” and “I’m going to find a job!” Far too often, the outcome of such happy talk is failure.

To institute real change, we have to be ready – mentally ready. Utilize these 5 ‘R’s – and make 2012 an amazing year for your career.


About the Author: A passionate supporter of Gen Y talent, CEO and Founder of YouTern Mark Babbitt is a serial entrepreneur and mentor. Mark has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Mashable, Forbes and Under30CEO regarding internships, higher education’s role in preparing emerging talent for the workforce and career development. Recently, Mark was honored to be named to GenJuice’s list of “Top 100 Most Desirable Mentors”. You can contact Mark via email or on Twitter: @YouTernMark.



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