My formula for finding and attaining the job you want
I come across people so often that are utterly confused with what job, career, or industry they should be pursuing.
I’d like to break down this not-so-menial issue.
What people often consider when deciding on a job/industry:
- Attainability (do I fit the requirements?)
- Stereotypes (does this look like I’ve made it?)
What people should consider:
- What am I great at?
- What am I interested in?
- What can I parlay from my past experience?
- What is my passion?
Let me stump the “what people often consider” section:
- Stability/Income/Stereotypes - Research from The Happiness Project quoted that it is proven that people are more successful when they are doing what they love doing. This tackles the stability, income and stereotype of doing well as one will have a stronger platform to flourish if they are in an environment where they truly enjoy the work.
- Attainability - Research says that men apply for jobs that they feel they qualify for 1/5 requirements, whereas women ensure they meet 4/5 job requirements. Often when hiring choices are made it is more often based on the ability to parlay past experience into the future job (creating a story that has a logical path and makes sense), showing your genuine interest in the job and lastly, ensuring there is company culture fit.
Secrets to figuring it out..
Next, people ask me (or usually just pause in silence not knowing how to answer the above mentioned questions), how do I know what I am great at?
This question can seem so obvious but in today’s fast paced world, and often ironically so, we can easily get away from the idea that what we are great at or what we enjoy doing is something that we can or should also make into our career.
- What do I do when I procrastinate?
- What do I usually research online?
- What magazines or books do I like to read?
- What do people ask me for help with?
- What do I like to talk about with others (often passionately so)?
- What am I usually doing when hours pass and I have not even realized? (academic word for this is flow)
- When I envision myself in a dream job scenario (force yourself into a reverie or think back to when they naturally occur): where am I, what am I doing, who am I working with?
How to break in:
The next step can help in two regards:
A) If the above questions have helped you and you know what you want to do, but next need to find what’s out there in the job field.
B) The above questions still have not helped you come to a job/industry you feel comfortable pursuing
Try this: Use job search tools with advanced search fields such as LinkedIn. In doing so, you can enter job functions that you know you enjoy, without having to settle on a certain industry or role. For instance, “project management,” “processing,” “consulting,” “design,” “customer service,” “management,” “marketing,” “sales,” “writing,” and more.
This feature is a little, almost hidden button that says “Advanced Search” (on Linkedin for example), so be sure to poke around for similar features on other websites. Any website where you can do this is the best bet for yourself, as you’re telling the site what you enjoy doing, and it spits back jobs where you can do that. What better way to find a good fit?
What this will also do is show you job roles. The search results may create a theme, letting you know what role is right for you, or show an array or variety of options. This is going to start you off in realizing what realms of work could be right for you.
Then your research begins…
Find folks of whom you can pick their brain and network within this industry. This is the best possible way to
- Get a job at all- networking is often cited as the #1 way folks secure jobs
- Learn how to speak professionally about your experience (it’s an informational interview)
- Learn about what’s out there - what you may or may not like, before you interview and potentially commit
- Gain the best idea of what roles will be right for you, increasing your chances of getting a great job
Don’t become nauseous at “network” - I’ll uncover the how-to’s of networking later on. For now, remember it’s going to give you all those benefits mentioned above.
The quick and dirty of what networking entails:
- Find out how to access your school’s alumni network.
- Reach out to family, friends, acquaintances, etc. who are either in the industry or who can ask around for some contacts for you.
When reaching out:
Create an email template that includes:
- Introduction - “Hi, I’m [Your name]”
- How you found this contact - “I found your name on [School’s alumni LinkedIn page]” (Note any unique, specific connections, i.e. through a close friend, a shared alma mater, anything of the sort)
- Background on you - “I attended [X University] and graduated in [XXXX], with a [Bachelors in XYZ]”
- Background on your experience - “My past experience includes [interning at XYZ/working at XYZ from XXXX-XXXX doing [generalized, short description of role]”
- A soft sentence about what you learned from that experience - “By consulting for non-profits, I learned immensely about the non profit industry and how to advise and liaise with senior management.”
- What you’re looking for in the future because of your past experience (tie it all together) - “From this experience, I have become extremely interested in the social impact consulting space and would love to explore this industry further.”
- Ask politely to connect with this individual - “I’d love to be able to connect with you, hear about your past experiences, and gain any insight and advice you have for me going forward.”
When they agree to connect:
Here’s some basics to help you guide the conversation:
- Review your background and ask them to share theirs (where you went to school, what you studied, where you interned/have worked, and generally what you did there)
- Explain your past experiences and what you’re interested in doing next
- Ask questions that arise as they share their experiences/career story
- Bounce ideas and questions off them about the industry as you know it
- Ask the nitty gritty questions about the job that you can’t find on a website (company culture, career progression possibilities, organizational structure, work life balance, travel, nature of the work, anything that concerns you)
- This will come in handy if you interview at that company, and most of all, let you in on what you want or don’t want.
Seal the deal:
- Always follow up to see if they can connect you to anyone else who may be able to help (whether that is them offering to pass your resume along to their HR or if they have a better contact in the industry closer to your interests)
Finally…you know the drill…lather, rinse, repeat.