Fruitless Labour

Have you ever done work today not knowing if or when you might see results?

If you’ve ever applied to jobs as your full time job, you understand what I mean. Spending hours writing cover letters and tweaking resumes only to find a countless number of applications have come and gone and no one has contacted you back.

Planted seeds, with no fruit to show for it.

It is kind of like being a novice gardener. Planting seeds and then sitting and waiting.

Maybe what you sow will give you something to reap, or maybe you’ll realize that you’ve spent an inordinate amount of time growing a pile of dirt.

But you can’t plant seeds and expect them to bear fruit tomorrow. Or next week. Or next month.

However, if you’ve started with a goal for the future, started with a vision of what could be, the fruit will come.

You just need a long term strategy.

Similarly, for businesses, knowing the overarching vision of where you want the company to be could guide it towards a foreseeable future where fruit is abundant.

But you need to know where you stand today. Measure that against where you want to be in the future. Then decide which tactics might be best suited to fulfill your long term strategy.

Are you in the middle of June with a vision of harvesting cherry tomatoes in July? Well, unless you started planting at the beginning of the April you are probably better off buying a grown plant rather than sowing seeds from scratch. Do you want to double your business’ revenue in a year but your staff are already working 60 hours a week and getting burnt out? Well, you might be at capacity and it’s time to add a few people to your team.

Sure, it may cost you a little bit more. Plants are more expensive than seeds. New staff are more expensive than grinding a few more hours out of your existing team.

But only in the short term.

In the long term, planting seeds too late means you might not get any fruit at all. Wasted money on seeds.

In the long term, not hiring more staff and expecting more outputs from your already overworked team means their production might suffer. Or, even worse, they might leave and force you to spend the same money you initially neglected to spend to hire a replacement. With lower production.

Apply this to a job search. If you are trying to begin a career within a new industry where your professional experiences don’t directly match a hiring manager’s view of what a candidate should have, then simply sending out resumes with varying forms of the phrase “leading cross-functional teams” won’t land you that dream job.

You need to network with people, meet people in person and have them get to know you. You have to make people think to themselves, “Well this person is someone who I can’t wait to train in the short term so in the long term they are an asset to my team.” Make them overlook the short term costs in exchange for the long term gain by putting in your own extra short term work.

The labour involved might seem fruitless.

Until it isn’t.

One day you may start seeing something pop out of the soil. A little seedling. Something green poking its head out of the cover letter graveyard that is your desktop.

Don’t let the short term labour stop you from seeing your long term vision.

All it takes is one seed to bear fruit.