Given that I just finished writing up and submitting a copy of my latest “Conscious Careering” article to the Puget Sound Business Journal for publication, I figured my blog would be a perfect place to give everybody a sneak preview of this new article, if interested.

You’ll find this latest installment of my column here, at the top of the Articles page of my website, and I’ll warn you up front that the focus of this latest piece revolves around a deceptively simple concept: the notion that the most successful job hunters don’t allow themselves to “be average” in several key respects.  This concept is one which I’ve grown to feel more and more strongly about, in recent months, as I’ve watched the way hundreds of various people approach the job market and observed the degree of success/failure they experience.

So while I don’t want to steal my own thunder and repeat the entire article verbatim, I will reiterate the key theme, which is that I’m seeing a lot of people out there offering “average” credentials or running an “average” job search campaign — but for some strange reason expecting to experience “above average” results in terms of their job search success.  So I thought it might be high time to call some attention to this.  After all, the “average” unemployment experience right now is hardly a walk in the park.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the typical unemployed American can expect to spend nearly nine months (34.4 weeks)  looking for a new job, and when you think about it, at the managerial and executive levels, this number is likely to be even higher.  These are just the facts, I’m afraid, and they aren’t likely to change considerably until some benevolent force kicks the economy back into gear at a macro level.

I’m pretty sure, however, most of you still want to buck the odds and avoid being “normal” in this regard.  Most people, after all, don’t have the financial or emotional reserves to comfortably hold out this long for a new assignment — and even the “average” nine-month job search is no guarantee, of course, since any one person’s transition period could be longer than this for a variety of reasons.

So in light of all this, there’s never been a better time to step up and prove what your Mother (I hope) always said to you: that you’re special!  Concentrate on channeling your egregious amounts of free time (if you’re between jobs) into one of two different marketability improvement strategies — or better yet, both.  Either focus on researching and obtaining the latest/greatest skills and qualifications in your field, the ones employers are still having trouble finding despite the “buyer’s market” that exists out there, or concentrate instead on running a comprehensive, creative, no-holds-barred job search campaign that will leave all of your competitors in the dust.

My belief is that both of these goals are eminently achievable for any professional in transition — and don’t usually cost all that much, thanks to the Internet and the world of self-study resources now available at our fingertips.  They just take willpower — whether this willpower comes from your own inner strength, your desire to provide for your family, the coaxing of an external support group, or some other system of accountability that you set up for yourself.

The key is to not allow yourself to be mediocre, since mediocre people (and companies, for that matter) aren’t faring very well right now.

Again, I know that these three simple words of advice (“don’t be average”) might seem too basic at first glance to be helpful, but in all honesty, when you ruminate on them for a while and examine them in the context of the numerous professionals out there succeeding or failing out there in quest for a new paycheck, I think you’ll discover they contain some important grains of truth.  The final test?  If you’re in the midst of a job search, yourself, especially one that you don’t feel is faring very well, ask yourself these two questions:

Question #1: Are my qualifications clearly more current, relevant, and impressive than other peers in my field today — and if not, am I actively taking steps to make them this way?

Question #2: Am I conducting my job search in pretty much the same fashion as everybody else or am I demonstrating greater creativity, commitment, and resourcefulness in marketing myself?

If you look in the mirror and can’t truthfully say “yes” to one or both of these questions, I’ve got some potentially good news for you: you definitely have room for improvement in your search efforts!