Archives for epic job search

Your Heroic Job Search

Simply-become-who-you-are

David is a programmer at a small company. One day he received a promotion to management. He used to love programming, but lately it feels like everything is going wrong at work. He’s learning a tremendous amount about the business side and loves to interface with the C-level: but, at the end of the day he is exhausted from all of the people-problems he has to deal with on the job. Drama between co-workers, scheduling issues when people call out sick, confronting his staff about missed deadlines, and their failure to meet performance expectations are just a few of the issues he has to resolve.

This affects his usually-pleasant disposition and he becomes a grumpy person at work and home. David is now irritable and impatient with his family. His relationships with his wife and kids suffer. His son’s teacher now recommends that David and his family see a therapist weekly. His problems begin to extend beyond work and his immediate family. Even though David knows that he only has so much time with his ailing parents, he resents how they depend on him. He has no energy to take care of his health, and now his doctor wants him to start taking cholesterol and blood pressure medication. David also didn’t take care of his car. He forgot to get it serviced and inspected, so he was pulled over and fined for driving with expired inspection stickers, and the mechanic identified major engine problems due to his failure to get regular oil changes.

As David’s expenses grow, he has to cancel plans for vacations, which further disappoints his family. He starts to feel like there is no reprieve from his life. David is getting a month older with every day that passes in his life. He feels hopeless. Nothing is going the way he wants. It is as if he’s walking toward the abyss and nothing can correct his course. He knows he has to do more to save his health and to reignite the passion in his career. The desire to search for a new job, and to leave the stresses of his current job behind are calling to him. David has to answer the call.

David wants new adventures and excitement in his life. He wants to feel as if his work matters, instead of feeling like a cog in a giant machine. Each night after work, he applies for new jobs on various job boards and on company websites. Most of the time, he submits his résumé and never hears back from potential employers. Other times, David’s interviews are torturous, as he tries to explain why he would be a good manager. He then tries to go back to programming, but receives even fewer responses, and is told he is over-qualified, and addressing his failure to be an effective manager continues to make him feel inadequate and embarrassed. He knows he’s not making a great impression with employers.

A year passed and David is still miserable at his job as a manager, unable to find anything new. He needs change NOW. David asks a few of his friends for advice and one of them suggests reassessing his job search. The manager knows he wants more from his job search. He doesn’t want to waste any more time and energy at his unfulfilling job. He begins the reassessment by attempting to identify his strengths, assess his skills, and tries to assume a new professional identity while carving out his own personal niche in the job market. David has a difficult time trying to achieve the vision he set forward. He reaches out to a career coach who can help him relay those findings into a vision of his new professional identity.

With the advice of a career coach, he is able to learn how to apply his strengths as a business analyst, has a new résumé written, and even learns how to connect with others in his desired industry. The career coach helps him develop a three-month plan to close the skills gap he needs to be considered a Business Analyst, and helps him enroll in online courses that he can take while he searches and works full-time. David learns how to demonstrate his value and passion to others. He also revamps his LinkedIn profile, and it is rewritten to promote the transferrable skills and innate talents he has been using all along. He is able to show how he will apply his skills in a new way, in a new role. The the results are almost immediate. Within three months of hiring a career coach, David receives job offers from multiple companies and discovers his negotiating power. David lands a job as a Business Analyst at a company he loves, while earning a higher salary than he did at his previous job as a manager.

David’s journey from a job he hated to a job he loved is not unlike the journey of a hero– a term used in fiction-writing. The call to adventure is often ignored or refused by the hero in his or her journey. The refusal might be because of a sense of fear, insecurity, or obligation. Refusing the call means feeling stuck in a place of hopelessness and being a victim to circumstances. Joseph Campbell, an American writer, helped summarize the concept of the Hero’s Journey in his 1949 book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. In his concept of the hero’s journey, the hero’s tale only takes a turn for the positive when he answers the call of adventure:

“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder. Fabulous forces are encountered and a decisive victory is won. The hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

 

Think of it this way: the decision to search for a new job, whether you’re unemployed or seeking a better job, is a journey. In your job search, YOU are the hero: but thankfully, you are also the AUTHOR of your own epic journey. Like the hero in many stories, your journey never really goes anywhere until you heed a higher calling. In the case of a job seeker, this would be the call to leave the job you’re dissatisfied with, or avoiding taking just any job if you’re unemployed. Heeding the call means you’ll be victorious in your journey. But many of us (at first) choose to ignore the call. What does this look like? More importantly, how can we get our heroic journey started?

 

The Journey and ignoring the call:

If you’re failing to find purpose in your job and your job-search journey is stalled, these are symptoms of a much greater problem– you are out of sync and out of alignment with your purpose and passion. Living against this grain causes splinters and calluses, much like how you can go into numbness and resignation. Until you surrender to the calling, EVERYTHING goes wrong.

If you’re dissatisfied with your job and you feel your life has a lack of passion, it’s not too late to start on a new journey. Bill Walsh, America’s Small Business Coach, said it best: “If your why is strong enough, the how will come.” Consider your own “why.” That is, what are the things that give you passion, drive and purpose in both your professional and personal life? Why have you chosen your particular career? Did you do it just to draw a paycheck? Or do you want to help others succeed: give back to your community: and enjoy your life to the fullest? Your “why” is something only you can answer. I created my own “why” video as one of my first assignments from Bill’s Rainmaker Summit.

Landing a job that helps fuel passion and purpose is a critical part of the hero’s journey. Remember, ignoring the call-to-adventure means being stuck in a place of stagnation and unhappiness.

 

Heeding the call:

At this point, you may feel like our hero who is on the cusp of embarking on the adventure. Right now, you may feel stuck, but you’ve found your reason for wanting to achieve greatness. Perhaps you were meant to read this very post, at this very time. It may be your time to STOP and listen to the call-to-adventure, start your hero’s journey, and accept the call to adventure. Don’t navigate it alone. Every hero has allies he or she can depend on. Those allies may be family, friends, alumni, co-workers and even acquaintances.  They are your network and they are willing to aid you in your journey.

There’s also the option to seek out professional help, if you feel your network can only take your journey so far. A career coach can help you discover the direction you need to take in your journey. Our own book, “Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint Your Purpose and Passion in 30 days” is a journal guide that can help you discover your passion. Whether the future is completely open or you know you need to make some major shifts, but keep a few things in place, our services will help you formulate a clearer vision of your future, so that you can build a strong foundation for a brand and campaign that manifest your ideal future.  We also recommend Derek Rydall’s programs to help you see what is in you already and to help bring it OUT, so that you can become who you are.  We suggest starting with Rydall’s “Best Year of Your Life Podcast” and then considering his Emergineering Program.

 

Decide that NOW is the time to answer the call-to-adventure. This will mean no longer being stuck in a mediocre job, and having the to power to change a career path. Discover what your “why” looks like and how it can help guide your job-search journey. As I said earlier, it could be finding a job you’re passionate about, finding your own financial freedom, earning a better salary, or even helping others in your community.

In your hero’s journey, once you find your “why” you can draw your sword and attack your job search with a renewed sense of purpose. No more job boards. No more torturous interviews. You’re going to be intentional about your future. You may decide that you want to enlist the help of a mentor, a career coach, or you may read about ways to discover and apply proactive methods to your job search. Creating a plan, choosing and targeting employers, networking, building your personal brand, hiring a résumé writer, and crafting a new cover letter are just a few of the many proactive methods you can use in your job search. Remember “why” you want to change your current circumstances and the “how” will come.

Epic adventures ahead!

 

8 Ways to Put Your Career on Autopilot

No Title by Kevin Hale from Flickr

No Title Given by Kevin Hale from Flickr

“If you build it, they will come.” This iconic line from Field of Dreams is powerful. While this line makes for a fantastic movie plot, building a product (or in our case, a personal brand) isn’t enough to guarantee success. You can build your reputation at work as a great employee, but very few people outside of your company will know about your personal brand and all of the great services you have to offer if you don’t advertise. Let’s look at a scenario that outlines how advertising a personal brand can be immensely helpful.

Dan is a brilliant IT Project Manager. His projects are consistently done on time and within budget. He always kept his team motivated and on task. Dan has a reputation for being a clear, concise and effective leader. He always had a great relationship with his employer, but he knew he’d eventually like to move on to a larger company. He was confident in his abilities and knew he could command a higher salary from a new employer. Dan wanted to look for jobs on his own terms. That meant creating a two-way street where in addition to asking contacts within his network for leads, the leads would also come to him. The IT Project Manager decided to create a campaign to advertise his personal brand to achieve those results.

Dan’s job search took the form of an advertisement campaign, not unlike a political campaign. The level of involvement went beyond completing his LinkedIn profile and staying active on social media. Dan made plans to meet and greet influential people within his industry, attend events, and garner name recognition. A campaign allowed him to market himself to potential employers and raise his industry influence. He was literally “running” for his next job! Dan created a website to serve as a hub for all of his social media accounts and used a landing page to acquire more information from his visitors. He began to blog about the difficult problems he faced and the solutions he had devised. On his social media accounts, he shared the content of other influential leaders within his industry. He bought ads from Google in order to promote himself and his achievements in the search results. He attended industry events, volunteered and offered to help others. Dan’s efforts produced a constant stream of job offers, a big boost in confidence and the ability to control his own professional and economic destiny.

In my scenario, Dan was passionate about controlling and advertising his personal brand. Every small and large company advertises their brand in order to promote their services or products, raise awareness about the benefits of their product, differentiate themselves from the competition, and retain their current customers. The same can apply to anyone who’s serious about putting their career on autopilot. How else will people know you are great? A well-advertised personal brand can generate momentum in your job search, more leads and the satisfaction of being better able to determine your job search outcome.

Here are several tactics you can use to put your career on autopilot:

 

  1. Infographics:

Create an infographic postcard and mail it to hiring managers at companies where you would like to work. We offer our own one-page infographic services that can be fully customized to your style, tastes and personality. Once your infographic is developed we can distribute it digitally via social sites like Pinterest or in print. Our infographic can also serve as a training document to teach your network how to develop great leads for you. You want your infographic to convey the value you would bring to a particular company and why you’re the solution to their problem. An eye-catching graphic as a first impression can capture the attention of a potential employer. Combine your infographic with a customized cover letter and you’ll definitely elicit interest in your résumé. The point isn’t to ask for a job, but to bring awareness to your personal brand. Websites such as Zoominfo and Data.com can be used to find hiring managers within companies. I wrote extensively about using websites to find people in my article, “10 Surprising Websites and 2 Secret Places Where you Can Research Employers.”

 

  1. Build and drive traffic to a personal website:

A personal website can serve as a portal for your online identity. It is a simple and elegant way to invite visitors to learn more about you and to connect with you. Links to social media accounts, blogs and a landing page can be added to your website. You can consider creating a landing page to capture information about your visitors in exchange for something such as a newsletter, small eBook (if you have one), or even access to a webinar.  About.me and Flavors.me are great services that can be that can be set up quickly and easily as a landing page or a small personal website.

Once you have your personal website established, you can use Google Adwords to place an ad. When a potential employer searches for you on Google the first thing he or she will see is your personal ad. Set your website as the URL. The space you’re given for an ad is limited, 70 characters including spaces, so your ad needs to be tight and focused. Phi Rosenberg has an excellent tutorial on how to use Google Adwords in his reCareered article. You can use keywords and search terms to target your audience. Alternatively, you can also use Google Adwords to target a hiring manager at a specific company. If you buy the Adwords for their name, you can craft an ad grabbing their attention and direct them to your website. I wrote about how Alec Brownstein used Google Adwords in just this manner in my article, “5 of the Craziest Ways People Found Jobs”.

 

  1. Join a new social media site and connect with influential people:

You may be intimately familiar with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Expanding your presence online and joining new social media sites is a great way to find and connect to a wider audience of influential people within your industry. If you have a person or potential employer in mind, search for them on a new network to see what you can find out. Here are a few suggestions: Google+, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest, Snapchat, Reddit and Plaxo. And for good measure, if you’re not on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, join those services. Once you’re on those services, don’t just follow people in your industry, share their content and create content of your own!

 

  1. Create a SlideDeck and share it through social media:

SlideDeck is a service that allows you to tell an engaging story that connects with visitors and compels them to take the actions you want. It is a sleek presentation that lets you communicate the value of what you’re selling in an easy and simple manner. Once you’ve set up and customized your SlideDeck, share its content through social media. Start with SlideShare and integrate it into your LinkedIn Profile. Mark Williams has an excellent tutorial. Double check to make sure your network notifications are on so that your connections will know when you share new content.

Now that your SlideDeck has been shared on your profile and your network has been notified, write a status update to ask anyone if they’ve seen it and what they think of it. If your account is linked to Twitter, share there as well. You can also share your presentation through LinkedIn groups. Ask for feedback on the presentation and try to get a discussion going. Sharing with a group gives you the opportunity to create a message, tell people what you’re up to and what you hope to do for your next employer.

After you integrate SlideShare into your social media accounts, you can go beyond just being found by others. You can also search for others on SlideShare, which brings me to the next strategy…

 

  1. Find and follow presenters on SlideShare:

Follow presenters on SlideShare and share their presentations on social media. If they have a profile, find and tag them when you share their presentations. Reach out to three of your favorite presenters. Use more than one method of contact to ensure you actually reach them. Several methods you can use are:

  1. Call on the phone. (This is the best method, but it can be scary for some people.)
  2. Contact them through their social media profile. (LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ are the best ways to make contact.)
  3. E-mail. (If your email doesn’t capture their attention it will be ignored.)

Choose two of these methods and prepare your pitch. Tell your favorite presenters that you saw their presentation on SlideShare and explain three things you liked about it. This will open up a conversation to talk more about the industry. Once you have their ear, tell them you’re looking for an opportunity to do X, in a certain organization and that you value their expertise in the industry. Let the presenter know you’ve shared his or her slides because of the valuable information. Also ask them how you can support their professional ambitions.

 

  1. Find and join a professional organization:

Search LinkedIn and find out to which professional organizations the executives in your target employers belong. Go a step further and find out when their events are happening. Some executives may have their groups publicized while others won’t. You’ll have to dig deeper to find those hidden groups. Try checking their biographies on the company website, check their LinkedIn profile groups section, and search for their information on Zoominfo.com. These areas will help show you online mentions for that person. After you identify an executive and his or her professional organizations, go to the website of that organization and browse the event calendar. Attend the event, join the organization and volunteer. Volunteering brings you to a greater level of visibility, and you may even be thanked publicly for your contributions. People are connected to others and an event at a professional group can lead you to more members, one of whom could possibly be your next employer.

 

  1. Guest post on blogs within your industry:

If you blog frequently about industry topics, you may want to try writing for someone else. Target influential bloggers in your industry, approach them with your ideas and ask them if you can create a guest post for their blogs. Posting on someone else’s blog can further expand your audience. You’ll gain more exposure on a platform that already has an established audience. You can also use this platform to build your credibility as an industry leader. Additionally, you can connect with other influential people and have your content shared with their social media followers. Guest posts are also a good way to help out a fellow blogger. These posts provide the fellow blogger with new content and credibility of their own as a destination where people want to guest post.

 

  1. Create a community or group:

Joining a group is one thing, creating your own group is an entirely different beast. Forming your own community is a major step in establishing yourself as a leader within your industry and to promote your personal brand. You can start a group on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ or even on your personal website. If you go the personal website route, you can use a discussion platform on your blog such as Disqus, or you can go the forum route with a service like phpBB. Pick a particular niche within your industry that you’re passionate about and encourage others to join. You can help encourage and drive conversations, in addition to having a dedicated following for your content. It’s another great way to show potential employers that you have the ability to lead others outside of your workplace. You can take your community-building further by starting a group based on a personal interest. That professional momentum will be a byproduct of the personal connections you make. It has been said many times, in many ways that more deals are made on the golf course than in the boardroom. This is an opportunity to surround yourself with people with whom you already have something in common, and, therefore, a great foundation for building rapport and synergy.

 

If you brand it, you advertise it. Advertising your personal brand allows you to control the narrative of your job search and to put your search on autopilot. Just imagine the places you can go with a well-advertised brand. You’re constantly active in your industry and you’re one of the first solutions that come to mind when people have a problem. Your brand is visible and you’re a well-known leader within your industry. Suddenly, you’re a valuable commodity on the job market and your well-advertised brand has given you a huge competitive edge. When employers need a new position filled, they want to hire you. You’re a hot commodity and, like a popular and beloved product, people can’t get enough of your talent and your leadership. Just think of the opportunities that will be presented to you, and the greater economic stability and freedom that comes with choosing your next employer because of a strong and well-known personal brand.