Edition 109 – Just Ask

We had an interesting experience in our household recently that resonated with something that I’ve often seen inside family businesses.

Our youngest son, Fraser, finished High School last year. He doesn’t really know what he wants to do with himself long term, so was focussed on picking up some casual employment in the hospitality industry. His point of view – I’ll make some money, save a bundle of cash to buy myself a new car and spend the time thinking what the next step is in my life. I felt it was a mature and smart move on his part.

A few weeks passed by and gradually, his confidence was dropping. He was applying for jobs on the Seek website, the modern day online job application portal. He was receiving no replies. You could see his physical stature start to slump as he questioned what was going on. Up until that point, I’d taken a back seat. My philosophy has always been to lead them to where they need to head – not do it for them. However, the time for intervention had arisen.

Fraser and I sat down. We took a look at his resume. Frankly, it was awful. It didn’t flow. It didn’t highlight his skills. The dates and positions he had held in part time roles were all out of chronological order. It looked drab. To me, I could see why he wasn’t receiving any calls – nothing appealed to me as a potential employer.

He and I spent around 90 minutes tidying up his resume. We talked about the various jobs he had been employed in. I asked him what functions he had performed in each role. We discussed the qualifications that he had gained, off his own bat, to help propel him into hospitality industry employment. I found out things I didn’t know. He remembered things he’d forgotten. Up they went onto the resume – along with a bit of colour and a few borders. All of a sudden, I could see his posture straighten up as he realised his resume now looked pretty good, and conveyed succinctly and proudly what his experience was.

My next piece of advice was to ditch Seek and start knocking on doors.

“But I’ve tried that before” he resisted.

“Not with this resume, nor with the extra skills since you last did it” I responded.

We quickly discussed the number of coffee shops in Camden and Narellan. Then I tasked him with knocking on doors the next day.

The next day came and off to Narellan Town Centre he trotted, newly minted copies of his resume under his arm, hair nicely gelled in place and looking smart in a sparkling clean shirt, presentable jeans and some nice shoes.

I was heading off to an appointment a little after he headed out on his journey. I was in the car and the phone rang. It was Fraser. He was excited and proud to tell me that he had knocked on three doors, and two of them had offered him positions straight away. Not none. Not one. Two. Each employer wasn’t advertising for a position – they just happened to see someone stump up the courage to tidy themselves up, make their resume look presentable, and ask if there were any positions going. Just by asking!

Here’s the moral of the story and why I believe it resonates so much in family business. Often there are opportunities that are in front of you that you don’t know exist for one of many reasons:

  1. You didn’t bother to ask.
  2. They didn’t know they had a need.
  3. You assumed – rather than entered into a conversation.
  4. You didn’t take the time to polish up on your presentation.
  5. You hid behind the email or the phone to engage with someone when human interaction, by and large, still works today.
  6. You couldn’t be bothered.
  7. Or, you’d decided to put it off until tomorrow – which really is “couldn’t be bothered” on delay.

This Week’s Tip

“How much business has gone begging in your business over the years simply because you didn’t ask?”

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