There’s been a lot of debate recently about the phenomenon of "tiger moms." While the call for tougher parenting may be controversial, however, it does raise an interesting idea. In this job market, in this economy, maybe what we need is tougher job seeking. Maybe, the key to success is to refashion ourselves as tiger jobseekers.
A tiger mom believes that she is teaching her kids critical life skills and values. While much of the media has focused on her instructional methods – the punishments and deprivations – it’s the knowledge and habits she’s conveying that are important to her. They are, she is convinced, the keys to a meaningful and rewarding life in the demanding new culture of 21st century.
Tiger jobseekers don’t teach others these skills and values, but instead, adopt them as their own. Their goal, however, is identical to that of tiger moms. They don’t expect to use their expertise only once or twice – the conventional view of job search techniques. Instead, they believe these skills and values are the keys to a successful career in the ever-changing economy of the 21st century.
What are the habits and values of a tiger mom? There are more than a few, but among the most important are:
• A belief in the importance of hard work;
• An expectation of excellence in every pursuit;
• A commitment to personal responsibility; and
• The conviction that learning is critically important and never stops.
Let’s look at each of these and see how they might apply to the tiger jobseeker.
The Importance of Hard Work
A tiger mom believes success is only achieved with determined effort. A tiger jobseeker invests the same commitment in their job search. For example, just as tiger moms expect their children to forego play until their homework is done, tiger jobseekers consider their employment search a full-time job. They work relentlessly to make and leverage contacts, research employers, uncover employment opportunities, apply for openings, and build their personal brand. They stay at it when they are tired as well as when they’re fresh, when they are discouraged as well as when they’re up, and on weekends and holidays as well as during the normal business day.
An Expectation of Excellence in Every Pursuit
Tiger moms hold their kids to a very high standard in everything they do. Tiger jobseekers hold themselves to a similar benchmark in the way they practice their job search. For example, just as a tiger mom expects her child to practice a piano piece until it’s perfect, tiger jobseekers practice the art of networking until they master it. Whether they’re introverts or extroverts, they work continuously to perfect their ability to build professional relationships, both with their peers and prospective bosses. They learn the best practices for expanding and reinforcing their contacts and use them effectively at both meetings in the real world and in discussion forums on the Web.
A Commitment to Personal Responsibility
A tiger mom encourages her kids to take responsibility for achieving their dreams. Tiger jobseekers believe it is up to them to determine the outcome of their job search. For example, just as a tiger mom will get a tutor for her child but expect the child to do homework, tiger jobseekers are proactive about acquiring the assistance of counselors and colleagues, but they accept that it’s their job to put themselves back to work. Hard as it is to do in this economy, they hold themselves accountable for the outcome of their effort and will make whatever adjustments they must to optimize their chances of success. If that means moving outside their comfort zone or making a change in what they’ve always done to find a job, that’s exactly what they’ll do.
The Conviction That Learning is Critically Important and Never Stops
A tiger mom expects her kids to acquire the habit of learning and practice it continuously. Tiger jobseekers see it as their job to transform themselves into someone employers always want to hire. For example, just as a tiger mom urges her children to explore music or the arts to express their talent, tiger jobseekers constantly strive both to increase their depth of knowledge in their profession, craft or trade, and to add ancillary skills that will enable them to use that core expertise in a wide range of situations and circumstances. They are the people whose resumes detail a track record of continuous development and an entry which indicates that, even while they are in transition, they are still acquiring new skills or refreshing old ones.
Regardless of what you think of a tiger mom’s approach to parenting, the skills and values she inculcates in her kids will go a long way toward helping them overcome challenges and succeed in life. To overcome challenges and succeed in today’s job market, those in transition would do well to adopt the same skills and values, and transform themselves into tiger jobseekers.