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Stop Walking With Pebbles in Your Shoe

The Stop Sign is a job-search column offering serious career advice with a touch of humor to help you stand out among the crowd that follows the same-old, same-old advice you find all over the internet. Feel free to send us any questions you’d like answered in these posts. We’ll tell you what not to do and where to go—not!

You ever go for a walk and somehow a pebble gets into your shoe?

Hurts, doesn’t it.

When it happened to me recently, I tried to keep walking, but with each step I took, the discomfort was just too distracting. I had to stop, remove my shoe, and pick out the pebble.

I held the tiny thing between my fingers. It was so small. How could that thing cause so much discomfort?

I was so impressed with its size I took a picture!

Later, while pondering the pebble, I wondered how many people wind up with a pebble in their shoe and for some reason try to keep walking. Instead of removing the pebble, they try to ignore the pebble and keep walking.

They have their reasons---They are in a hurry. They re not in a convenient place for removing the pebble. They are used to the discomfort. Maybe they are with someone else who is in a hurry or tries to encourage them-- “It’s only a pebble. Ignore it—Keep walking. You can do this!”

Then, it occurred to me how many people ignore pebbles during their job search.

They ignore warning signs when they apply for jobs; they ignore warning signs during interviews; they may even ignore helpful advice from people who can see that you’ve got a pebble in your shoe.

And they wind up with the same results they’ve experienced before---no interviews; no offers; or maybe, a job similar to what they had before, and after the newness wears off, they find themselves dissatisfied again.

Imagine you see a job posting. You meet all the requirements; you like the type of work, but it’s a long and tough commute. Or imagine you meet the requirements; the commute is great; but you would have work with some tools or software that you really don’t like.

To your amazement and pleasure, you land the job! You are ecstatic.

How do you think you will feel six months later?

Believe it or not, odds are you will be complaining about the tough commute or the tools you don’t like using.

We can love 8 of 10 parts of a job. And we will spend too much energy on the 2 things we don’t like.

It’s simple human nature.

So, stop walking with pebbles in your shoe!

Carefully examine the requirements and duties in a job posting. If the duties include things you don’t like to do, then consider skipping that role.

During interviews ask questions about possible pebbles. For example, if long-work hours or working on weekends is a pebble for you, ask about those things.

In short, if during your job search something hurts or causes discomfort, consider what you can do differently to get a better result. Remember the old definition of insanity.

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