So your boss just walked over to your cubicle and told you that because of “setbacks” you are going to have to do Marcy’s and Joe’s work, in addition to your own from now on. Three letters pop into your head W T F. You realize right then and there, that there has to be a better job out there. [Note: I am writing this because this is what I would want a prospective employee to do if I were hiring them]
So you’ve been toiling away at your job as a marketing analyst in some ginormous (real word btw, I was as surprised as you) ad agency. You’ve been working on some boring ass reports that will never get read, when you really wish you were doing something creative. So you decide you want a new job, but have no idea where to start. Here is where.
Step 1 – Control your message
First step, secure your reputation online. WHAT? Yes, because the first thing I am going to do is google you. You think I’m joking? But I bet that 90% of employers do this, and maybe 5% of employees realize it. So start by registering your domain (your fullname.com, and avoid .info or .biz), and setup some cheap hosting for it. Once you’ve finished this, you aren’t done with step one, but you need to setup a personal page (godaddy or whomever gives you simple site builder tools, or you can download a template for a website from here). Why am I giving you these tips for free? Well I really don’t like doing basic sites (not exciting), and hope you’ll appreciate learning this stuff. Plus, once you learn it, you can buy me a beer, and we’ll have something to talk about over said beer.
Make sure your domain has your bio (the way you want to have it read), and ideally a photograph of you somewhere.
Step 2 – It pays to be informed
Do some homework on your chosen career. What do I mean by this? Google the keywords you think relate closest to your intended profession, and see who the most popular people are that do what you would like to do. If its industrial design, research Jonathan Ive from Apple; if it’s playing the cello, research Yo Yo Ma, you get the drift. The worst thing you can do is show up to an interview and not know shit about the industry, the job, etc. (this also applies to customer meetings and sales pitches to clients).
Next, see where the trends are in your industry, if its an industry larger than for example professional cello musicians, then you are almost certainly going to find someone writing about what you want to do. (Hint: Google “industrial design trends” or the equivalent for your job). If by some odd chance, no one is talking about your chosen field, maybe you should use your research and compile it into a blog about the topic.
Step 3 – Its really about who you know more than what you know.
Start making friends in your industry of choice. Read their blogs, comment on them, send them an email. Now more so than ever the power of the network is becoming more and more apparent. Why? Well its becoming easier and more efficient for everyone to USE their networks now, and to sift through them. Back in the day, if you knew a ton of people, chances were you couldn’t instantly see what they do for a living (LinkedIn), or where they went to school (Facebook).
If you’ve got a blog, link to these people. Semi-famous people love links, it makes them feel semi-famous and appreciated. The more people you befriend, the more likely you are to be included in their conversations about business, life, and more. These conversations are what will lead you to new offers, leads, etc. People like referring their friends to things 100x more than strangers.
Step 4 – Create your mission statement
I get this question a LOT “So what exactly do you do?” and a lot of times I have a hard time explaining it. But that’s because I don’t always practice what I preach. Having your personal mission statement goes a long way, for multiple reasons: 1. it gives you a guideline to help you define and reach your goals, and 2. it makes it easier for your friends to know if you’re a fit for any opportunity they may see.
What does a personal mission statement look like? Well, really it can be anything. Try starting with “I’d like to create stunning accessible kitchen utensils” (if you were an aspiring industrial designer for example). This is really more up to you. My personal mission statement is “I create easy to use web applications that help people with their daily lives.”
Step 5 – Be awesome
Let the world know you are awesome. So if you want to be recognized, you have to make your accomplishments public. If you are an amazing chef, post pictures of your creations with the recipes on your blog. Make food for your friends, and ask them to tell their friends about it (be cool about it though). A few weeks ago I asked on twitter, “If you are awesome, and no one knows it, are you still awesome?” Some people responded that it shouldn’t matter what others think, only what you think. Those responses ignore the definition of awesome “to inspire awe in others,” others being the key word. I’m not saying go out there and be some annoyingly boastful shmuck, but rather to make sure you toot your own horn occasionally (no one else is going to do it for you).
This also goes hand in hand with the previous posts where you are trying to help distinguish yourself from the crowd. An average monster.com job listing gets like 5000 responses. 99% of them are just a resume + generic cover letter. If I post a job, and you send me just your resume attached, I am instantly assuming you are lazy, and not qualified to work for me. So I will probably just ignore your application, and won’t care if you really were some kick ass person, cuz you didn’t bother letting me know.
Step 6 – Be persistent and be proactive
A lot of times you might really really want a job you saw on indeed, simplyhired, monster, hotjobs, wherever, but you’re afraid that you aren’t qualified for it. Here is how you find out, call the company, ask to speak to the person responsible for hiring. Once you’ve got that person on the line, ask them about the job, tell them a bit about yourself, and explain how you are trying to find out as much as possible about said job before you send in your resume. I guarantee they will remember your name when they see your well articulated cover letter and resume. Not to mention you really just scored yourself a preliminary phone interview and all it took was 15 minutes of your time.
The other thing to keep in mind, unlike dating, where persistence can come off as desperation, in job hunting, it looks like you REALLY want the job. So if it comes down to the guy who called to confirm we’d received his resume and sent a thank you card after an interview, or the guy who couldn’t be bothered to reply to his emails in a timely (<12 hrs) manner, I’m going with the one showing genuine interest.
Step 7 – Don’t be afraid to apply
Lots of people I know complain about their current jobs, wish they had better ones, and then do nothing about it. Many are afraid of going for something uncertain, when they are in a secure position already (understandably we are having tough times, but tough times don’t apply to the awesome). But really you have nothing to lose but a few minutes or hours of your time. The days of pining away at one company for 30 years are over, the new way to the top is by jumping up and across in new companies.
So hopefully you can use this stuff to get some solid leads on career advancement. If you are looking for a job, I’d be happy to help (I’m not a recruiter or head hunter, just like to help). Make sure you send me your info (and if you didn’t read above and follow my instructions, then you are outta luck). If you manage to get a job thanks to my advice, just pay it forward and help the next person get a job, or a better one.