Image by deanmeyersnet via Flickr
You have no idea how often I hear people comment how they’re tired of being unemployed or hate their current job and want a new one.
Can you guess what the common
irritating denominator is for most of these people? The don’t do anything more than complain. Most of them can’t even be bothered to update their résumé. They look at the cover letter as if it’s a written Mt. Everest. They poke around Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com, maybe they apply to a few auto-fill job ads, and then they complain about never hearing back about the job.
I think the problem is we’ve forgotten how to hustle. We’ve forgotten the human side of looking for a job. There’s this feeling that the automation of today’s technological world will eventually figure out a way to match us up with the perfect job.
Looking back over my friends and colleagues who have actually changed jobs this year, there’s been one consistent factor, the personal connection. They were able to get someone else to advocate for them. Either they knew the person hiring or were able to get recommended by someone at the company. This wasn’t pity help, this was two people seizing an opportunity, both the person looking for the job and the person who saw the opportunity in pitching their potential employment.
You can’t be afraid to ask for help. As a society, we seem to have this strange reaction to asking for a helping hand. It’s as if we see asking for help as a sign of weakness. When in reality it’s exactly the way things get done. When I’m starting a new project, I try to surround myself with people I trust and whose skills I value. Why would it be any different when looking for a job. So seek out friends, family, former co-workers… basically anyone who you have a personal relationship with and you think might be willing to go to bat for you, ideally in a career path you’re interested in.
Which begs the question, what do you want to do? Start by listing your skills and then thinking about how those skills translate to the workforce. Don’t concern yourself with your past “jobs”, what is it you can actually do? You were an administrative assistant, but did you run events, write for the company newsletter, error check financials? Perhaps you’ve developed skill sets you’ve never really considered because they all fell under a generic umbrella title like administrative assistant. So, (pardon the use of this hackneyed phrase) think outside the box. What job might you be good at that you haven’t considered?
Now comes the tricky part, especially if you’re considering a career change, self-promotion. How do you show off your talents? If you’re like me and your talents run towards things that work well on the Internet (writer, photographer, etc) you’re going to want to utilize the power of on-line marketing. Set-up your own website/blog that shows off your talents and then make sure it stays updated. Don’t worry, there are a lot of free options to do this (such as WordPress or Blogger) Don’t forget to include your contact information, you’ll see no benefit to marketing yourself if no one can find you.
No matter what your career goals are, create a LinkedIn account. This is a very useful service for essentially making sure your career is in the open for all to see. Once you create or if you already have a professional on-line presence (no photos of yourself upside down over a keg of beer and the like), cross link all your on-line efforts together.
For instance, my Twitter account is found on my blog, Google+ and LinkedIn pages, my blog has links to all of my on-line work, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. I want to make sure anyone who comes across something I’ve posted on-line can find everything else I’ve done. If they see that I’m a consistent producer of good content, perhaps they’ll be interested in contacting me.
The only social media service I’ve kept un-linked is Facebook. That’s my private sphere and the only place where the possibility for something less than flattering about me could be posted. Not that I would do anything less than flattering.
Oh, and one more suggestion, surround yourself with similar minded people. Join groups, volunteer for things, find anyway you can to show off your talents while doing something tangible. Activities like that increase your network of colleagues and therefore the chance you’ll run across someone who’s been looking for you to fill a valuable role.
Sadly, I can’t guarantee any of this will work. The only guarantee I can give you is that doing nothing will DEFINITELY not work. I promise you, no one ever offered a dream job to the guy who just sits around and complains.
Oh, and one more suggestion, if you’re able, don’t be afraid to find a job somewhere else. We usually find reasons to not leave our regional nests, but you may find that there are great jobs (and experiences) on the other side of the country, if not the world. If your roots aren’t too deep, don’t be afraid to move.
Now, while I’m on the subject of people looking for work, may I recommend Vincent DiCostanzo. He happens to be the positive role model that inspired today’s blog. I was really taken by his hustle to land a new job, he’s done everything right, except getting the job. So maybe he just needs a little help, perhaps getting shown off to a few people in another circle.
If you’re looking to hire someone who understands the big picture but knows how to do the grunt work to get a job done (you know, the kind of person you’re looking for to add value to your company) Vince is the guy. Plus, he’s also a nice person. I keep trying to find something to hate about it him, but to no avail. It’s very frustrating. Check out his website, his Twitter, or his LinkedIn account. I promise he’s worth the effort.