• Makheni Zonneveld

#5 Future Readiness and Job-hunting

Updated: Jan 13, 2019

This post is part of the free Future Readiness service. This is the last in the 5-part series of answers to the first question. For the first 4 please click here If you have not yet subscribed please click here or watch the 4-minute video on the homepage of makheni.com.

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“Dear Makheni

My aunt advised me to subscribe to your list and ask my future readiness questions. I am a 24-year job-seeker. I am an unemployed Business Management graduate from Springs near Johannesburg. In the past 18 months I have tried everything to find employment. How can future readiness help me in my search for employment? Any job will do”. Linda (not her real name)


Dear Linda

I hope you did read Mr Richard Maponya’s biography and get super inspired. If he could pull himself by his bootstrap, so can you and I.

As promised, this last elephant burger is on how to sell your skills to non-employers. Before we get to the ‘How to’, let’s look at why selling our skills to non-employers is not our default option.

By default, many of us see selling our skills as finding a job. Were we born with this mentality? No.

Most of our behaviour is nature plus nurture but as with all mind-sets, seeing a career as having a job and earning a guaranteed salary is 100% learnt. The good news is that anything that is learnt can be unlearnt. As you know, Linda, unlearning thinking patterns is easier said than done. It starts with a strong desire for acquiring the new thinking pattern, understanding why you got into the old pattern and a strong will to do the work. Images of robots like these two do not help.

I refer to changing a thinking pattern as work because contrary to what those who have read a few self-help books tell us it takes more than just a change of attitude. It takes effort. Yes, mind-set precedes action but a new mind-set with old thinking amounts to nothing.

Laziness is the reason many welcome the abracadabra idea that all you need to achieve anything with only positive thinking. That is why the book The Secret was so popular – it propagates this idea and readers loved it because they would like to lie on a couch, visualise, so things can materialise just like that! That is the same reason megachurches are full of people who follow the ‘name it and claim it’ nonsense. We are a lazy bunch. Don’t be fooled, Linda, unless you are reading through a dictionary, work always comes before success. Mind-set change itself is work, let alone what you have to do after you adopt new thinking patterns.

How we end up with this thinking pattern

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, well meaning parents, educators and other adults prepare us for the kind of world they grew up in forgetting that it no longer exists.

Another reason many cling to the idea of selling their skills to employers is cognitive diversity. Last week I mentioned the fact we should teach cognitive diversity in schools and that I also mentioned the fact that it is not possible to do justice to that in a blog but handle such topics in a webinar or live seminar. In short, cognitive diversity has to do with brain preferences - the way you are wired up as an individual - understanding what drives your behaviour, what gives you energy and what costs you energy and understanding how others are wired up so you can interact more meaningfully with them.

Our brain preferences determine how we communicate, learn, teach, lead, solve problems, demonstrate love, deal with stress and how we generally relate to others in personal and business relationships. This has serious implications for career or business suitability. Imagine having a window into the thinking of customers and potential customers. That is worth gold and that is what understanding cognitive diversity gives you.

There are people who prefer flexibility, have no need for stability, love variety and are usually risk-takers. Entrepreneurship comes more naturally to them and even when there is a possibility of a formal job they are likely to choose a more flexible arrangement. On the other hand, there are those who find stability, structure and security important. They are usually not risk-takers. In the past a job filled their need for security but now it no longer makes sense to talk about job and security in the same sentence. Having a job is risky business. Thus, if you are risk averse, the last thing you should be looking for is a job!

If you have a need for stability and security, seeing a job in the right perspective, recognising that it does not offer what you need, helps you to accept more flexible options. There are far more differences between people, that is why I said that I cannot do justice to cognitive diversity in a few pages.

By the way retrenchments are not only a result of digitalisation. Retrenchments have existed for decades as a result of cost-cutting, restructuring, downsizing, mergers and acquisitions etc. Digitalisation only increased the rate and now more and more people who would rather have jobs are forced out of their comfort zones.

Formal jobs don’t last long and they are hard to find. What then?

If you fit the description of people who needed certainty and security, then your first step is to work around your being risk averse. You do not change who you are as a risk averse people but you should learn how to work around it. Fortunately, you have signed up to the right service because I will accompany you on that journey.

There are fewer and fewer jobs but that does not necessarily mean that there are fewer and fewer opportunities to sell our skills. When you are busy looking for a job you are likely to miss the opportunities that are out there because your focus is elsewhere. That is just how our minds work. When you are busy looking for a pink elephant you miss the green one right in front of you.

There are different options but we’ll only look at freelancing.

Freelancing simply means offering your skills to whoever is willing to pay for them without being their employee. The buyer may be a corporate client, a small business, another entrepreneur or Joe Citizen. When you are a freelancer you should see yourself as the product that your business sells. I can see your raised eyebrows and hear you thinking “Hmmm... how did we make the giant leap from job to business?”.

You can hardly call it a giant leap. I hope that in the past 5 weeks you have managed to shift from where you were when you submitted your question and you are ready to see the world of work through a different lens – seeing yourself as a business person.

Since freelancing is a business, you should thus develop an entrepreneurial attitude and acquire entrepreneurial skills. You have signed up for the right free service because this is where you will learn about succeeding in the new economy one week at a time. Of course if you find the ‘one week at a time’ too slow, the option of fast-tracking the process is always available. You can choose to become an online coaching client and get personalised service. To request more information on how that works simply click here.

People use freelancers for assignments that do not require an employee. I have a friend who has extensive HR experience in the corporate sector. For some years she has helped small businesses with HR services like HR policies, helping them to prepare for CCMA hearings, etc. It does not make sense for small businesses to employ her so this option is cost effective. She offers her service to different small businesses at the same time. I have acknowledged in my management book that most of what I know about HR I learnt from being her friend for more than 3 decades and co-facilitating workshops with her. What did it cost me to learn so much about productivity management and other aspects of HR? Not a cent and now I have skills that I sell to anyone who needs them. I know she will not mind if I give her contact details: tceedee@gmail.com.

The need for freelancers will always be there because people use freelancers even for tasks that they can perform when a freelancer’s rate is far lower than the cost of their time. There are technical things that I do all the time - I have become good at doing them so they take a short space of time, they require software that I already have and most importantly I enjoy doing them. I am not going to buy Photoshop software and learn how to use it, learn about all the updates just for using it once in a while to jazz up a banner. That is an opportunity for a freelancer.

The first question that coaches and other people ask is usually ‘How do I find these people who are willing to pay for freelance services?’ Organisations that are stuck in the old millennium pay people for their formal qualifications. Progressive organisations pay people for what they can do and the same applies to freelancing. You get paid for what you can do – nothing more. These organisations sometimes advertise opportunities for freelancing. Guess what, you are suddenly going to start these adverts that were there all along.

In fact, most of the time companies, small businesses and individuals do not advertise that they are looking for freelancers because the freelancers themselves advertise what they offer. Now you think oh no where am I going to get money to advertise, it gets better. There are online platforms that you can sign up for. Make sure you sign up with a reputable company.

All you need to do is search for freelance opportunities and sign up. You can sign up with as many as you want because you are not an employee.

All you need to do is search for freelance opportunities and sign up. You can sign up with as many as you want because you are not an employee.The organisation that offers this platform takes a small percentage of what you charge clients and do all the admin. You don’t have to do the soul-destroying work of chasing payments and other boring admin. All you do is offer a brilliant service and clients will recommend you.

When I need a freelancer I do not have to know the person, check out if he/she is trustworthy or good enough and make sure he/she can deliver. I simply click here and find great people who offer a variety of services. I trust these freelancers enough to pay them upfront. Why? I trust the company. You can use the same link to sign up as a seller of services I can stake my reputation on this company because I have used them for years.

I hope you now realise that seeing digitalisation as a threat or as a great opportunity is in the eye of the beholder. You have the opportunity to sell your skills to millions of people around the globe. One of the advantages you have as a South African is the fact that you work in English. I am proud of my language Setswana and I can communicate in all 11 SA languages but I’m glad I can work in English. Although there are 330 - 360 million English first language speakers, about 1,2 billion people (20% of the world population) speak English. Out of these 1,2 billion people there should be a few million who could benefit from your skills.

Many freelance jobs are in the IT sector but don’t let that put you off. There are other opportunities like ‘English Customer Service’. Do not limit your search to SA. You can work for an online support centre that is based on either voice call or chat. You can work for a UK based company and clients from India, Hong Kong, USA, Botswana will not know that you are in Springs. I use brilliant marketing tools by a USA based company. Their fantastic support chat team members are all over the globe. I realised this when one day one of them mentioned on the chat that he would like to visit The Netherlands because he is in Germany. I wrote a sentence in German (courtesy of Google translate) and he responded – My German is not good; I am a student from Australia. I hope this shows you how endless the possibilities are.

There are people who make a living out of translating, selling music online etc. You may wonder why anyone would buy songs when you can download them for free. You need a license to use someone else’s content for example on your YouTube channel. When I needed a jingle for my YouTube channel I simply click on the link I have already given to you and in no time I got a jingle that I own and can even use on a monetised video. There are also free jingles but I will talk about the magic word ‘Free’ as the weeks roll by. The possibilities are endless but as I said if you are not looking for them you miss them.

What next?

Linda, I hope that this 5-week journey was worth your while. If you would like to pursue the freelancing option I suggest you browse through this site and other freelancing websites to help you to decide which services you can offer. I hope that you will stay subscribed to this service in order to learn more about being a future ready entrepreneur. This is only the beginning.

Thanks again for your question and as promised, I will invite you to my free webinar and give you the code for logging in to the online questionnaire on cognitive diversity. Knowing your brain profile will definitely contribute to your growth as an entrepreneur.

Next week is someone else’s chance to have his/her question answered. Watch this space…

Till next week

Makheni your Future Readiness Coach

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Makheni Zonneveld has extensive experience in helping organisations, teams, individuals and entrepreneurs with real transformation. She employs these communications tools: Online and face2face coaching, speaking, training, storytelling and writing.

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