btripp_books (btripp_books) wrote,

Help for the job hunt ...

I have had the pleasure of making Conor Cunneen's acquaintance over the past few years, although I would have preferred the situations being different than my having been in repeated job searches. A few years back I'd reviewed his Why Ireland Never Invaded America, and the current book, SHEIFGAB the World: 8 Building Blocks to Successful Job Transition is something of a follow-up to that, featuring the same main character, the Irish business consultant Finbarr Kozlowski (the surname arising from his grandmother having "married a Scotsman" ... don't ask).

Finbarr claims that "SHEIFGAB" is an Irish word for "Do It" or "Make It Happen" (eventually admitting that it's only an Irish word in that it's a word made up by an Irishman), but it's actually the acronym created by the 8 "building blocks" of Cunneen's system:
Structure
Help
Environment
Improve
Family
Goals
Attitude
Behavior
Now, I have (unfortunately) been exposed to many job-search speakers over the past decade, and Conor Cunneen presents the most integrated system for dealing with this deeply unsettling life situation. Rather than approach the challenge of "being in transition" from a "details" approach (there's nothing here about how to research job leads, how to tweak your resume, etc.), SHEIFGAB is a "lifestyle" approach that addresses assorted aspects of the job-seeker's new situation.

The book is presented as a series of workshops that Finbarr is giving for a group of "NIGEPs" ... another acronym, this time for Non-Income Generating Employed Person, "banning" (as counter-productive) the term "unemployed", as when one is in the job search one is conducting the Most Important Job, so one is "employed" in that ... with each of the 8 topics being the subject of a session. One of the key messages, which resurfaces frequently through the book, is how common the transition experience is, and how many very successful people had significant "rough spots" on their way to the top. By using the scenario of a workshop with various attending members, Cunneen is able to reflect the assorted component messages off a spectrum of personality types, enabling most readers to identify with specific reactions. Obviously, he's given this presentation to enough groups that he's been able to sort out the most likely stumbling blocks and gives Finbarr approaches for countering these.

SHEIFGAB can really be broken into two parts, SHEIF, which is pretty much focused on the job seeker, and GAB which seems to be a more general approach that Cunneen also presents to other audiences. As one would guess from the list above, the system starts with Structuring one's approach to the job search. Keeping schedules, being on time for networking events, planning out one's time as though one were working at the Job Search, all these are elements without which it's hard to put any sort of organized effort together. Then there's Help, and this isn't just "reaching out" to friends and associates, it's also the job seeker helping others (volunteering, etc.), which provides emotional strength in trying times. Next there's Environment, which is pretty much the one part of the system where I fall down, as Finbarr/Conor suggests a nice tidy work space, and getting out of the house to bookstores, coffee houses, etc. to not "do the same thing in the same way at the same time in the same place" (I, personally, would have to drag a printer with me over to Barnes & Noble, so have not figured out a good way of working that; and my work spaces have always been chaotic!). This is followed by Improve ... this isn't simply the "go learn new skills" sort of advice, but a push for feeding in positive messages (taking out motivational tapes from the library, etc.) as well as working diligently to improve one's interviewing presence. Finally, in this section there's Family, which deals with the reality of having the usually out-of-the-house breadwinner in the house and, well, not winning bread. In this Cunneen presents an interesting concept, that of "taking others' parking spaces", where the job seeker might well be creating a great deal of stress by being around but "not doing anything" in the house (trash, shopping, cleaning, cooking, etc.), or by hogging time on a computer system that others might be used to having at their disposal.

The second part of this starts with Goals, which includes such obscure items as B-HAGs, S-HAGs, and NAGs. I'll leave the first couple of those to you to figure out (hint: the "G" is, not surprisingly, for "goals"), but will let you in on the NAG being a "Networking Accountability Group", which will, when established between one and some of one's NIGEP associates, nag one (in essence, taking the role of a Boss) if one isn't being accountable! This section also deals a lot with other networking strategies, some audacious, some just good ideas. Next there's Attitude, much of which plays off the example of Viktor Frankl, with methods to keep one's head in a productive space. This also parlays into a second "A", of ageism, which gets countered with a lot of Rock Star examples and a list of action points on how to make age relatively irrelevant, with a section on using Social Media (that new-fangled stuff all the kids are into) also tucked in here. Finally, there's Behavior/Brand, where one's behavior helps to establish one's brand (Cunneen's "brand promise" for his speaking biz is "E4 - Energize, Educate, Entertain & Easy to work with") and one's "brand" is what differentiates one in the eyes of potential employers.

Anyway, I highly recommend SHEIFGAB the World to those in transition, or as a gift to present to those you know who are in transition. It's very reasonably priced, and if you order directly from Conor Cunneen's site, Irishman Speaks, he's got a special discount offer "to buy you a Guinness" (or maybe just pick up the shipping). It is available via Amazon as well, although I'm not sure about brick-and-mortar locations at this point (this is so "hot off the presses" that there's an anecdote about Michael Jackson's funeral in it!). Again, having this book is like having Cunneen and his SHEIFGAB system at one's disposal for a week (or more) instead of just a couple of hours, so it is quite the value to anyone "between jobs"!


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