The «Art of War» for unemployed people

“The Art of War” is a Chinese treaty of war strategy which its age remains unknown, but it is thought to be from the IV century b.c and it was written by a Chinese master called Sun Tzu. It has been used as reference since the XVIII century for important strategists as Napoleón and for innumerable courses and leadership and strategy publications nowadays.

This treaty is based on analyzing the enemy and all circumstances that surround it/him/her. However, when we are unemployed, the enemy is often ourselves.  I mean, it is us who decide whether to win or lose the battle against the unemployment depending on our attitude in facing the situation.

 The most important conclusion that we can get from this treaty is that to beat the enemy we need to know him/her deeply and also we need to establish an effective and well-proportioned strategy. Another remarkable conclusion is the need of dividing the enemy and use a surprising factor in order to distract him/her.


How can we get to know ourselves (as a potential enemy) and divide ourselves to beat him/her?

The change from a professional activity to the unemployment is undoubtedly a traumatic situation and generates some instability  for  our self-esteem that we can correct with our capacity to face the difficulties that may arise immediately.

Firstly, we should do a deep, rational and true evaluation of our weak points. After that we should know how to manage our strengths in an effective way. In the end and the most important thing is to know how to divide our abilities as a candidate as a good general would do (General of an army).

 Due to this reason I invite all you to analyze our strengths and find out if your troops are supplied and ready for the new battle-Which are your troops? I propose the following units:

  1. Motivation-Do I know what I want to do? Do I know how to get it and where to go?
  2. Abilities (instruction)-What are my technical abilities? Do I need more training or instruction? Am I ready for new labor market?
  3. Team (Artillery)- Do I have the correct weapons? Languages, Computer knowledge, extra training.
  4. Capacity of evaluation and assessment. (Strategy)-When we start looking for a job we have to bare in mind what might have changed in the labor market. It is important to know the new tendencies in your professional area and to know what is demanded now and what you can contribute with. It should be pointed out a sentence of the book with says: “if you do not know how to be strong or weak you will be defeated”. This takes us to the next principle. There are some people in Linked In that calls/names theirselves CEO of companies that has never invoiced a euro yet.
  5. Adaptability (market research): it is very important both to get new knowledge and to know how to behave in a new working culture, get to know how to adapt ourselves to new people and ways of working. Our mind has to be more flexible in order to interact with the new working environment and life in general.
  6. Strategy for victory (lead correctly). The most important thing. The reach for a job position implies a daily applied method, and also a strategy which is generated by the interaction of the five previously mentioned units.

It is really essential to know the quantity of our strengths or competency. On the III chapter “About the proposals of defeat and victory”, the author recommends the following maxim which I find very important:

If you know the others and you know yourself, not in even one hundred battles you would be in danger; if you don’t know the others, but you know yourself, you might loss one battle, but you possibly win another: if you neither know the others nor yourself, you will be in danger in each battle.

I think it is one of the main principle of the book. When I say that the unemployed person is her/his own enemy, very often, it is due to the effect of self-devaluation as professionals and in some cases as individual human. Which generates no movement, apathy and in many cases depression. That is why the important thing is to know where we are and how to start building a new path with better foundations.

 Another basic principle that the author outlines which I find very useful is the following:

Therefore, the general rule of military operations consists on not thinking that the enemy would come, but trust on having the right tools to face him/her; not thinking that the adversary will attack, but to trust to have something which can not be attacked.

My understanding about the foresaid is that we should avoid post-pining for example, learning languages, getting training certificates that might help us or learn certain computer tools/programs. We will find sooner or later the job position we are interested on and which nearly fully fits on what we are looking for and it gets away from our hands due not have learnt about that certain area.

 “The Art of War” is overall a preventive manual. It is a reflection about the fact that the best victory is the one obtained without a battle. So we should try to win with the minimum use of resources and also in our field. An interview should be a step that we attend with the best information, the best predisposition and not been afraid of the possible surprises that may arise. If in the job description it is indicated the need to speak in English, you have to be ready for an interview in English or for different tests.

There are many conclusions that can be obtained from this reading which I highly recommend you. Although the most important for what we are interested in this section, is the call for action, the surprise factor, adaptability and the division of our strengths, overall never show your weaknesses to someone that could employ you.

Let’s face the year with energy, strategy and enthusiasm for our projects. I don’t know other way to reach them.

Spanish Version available on the next link:

Author: Fernando Fernández-Cavada  – Twitter: fernandocavada1

Translation by Ines Rodriguez  Corcobado-