Originally written March 6th, 2011
A recurring theme that I hear when I’m chatting with someone at almost any point in their life, is a dissatisfaction with their job or lack thereof. Now we’ve all heard from lifestyle gurus and passionate entrepreneurs about doing what we love everyday instead of a job that leaves us feeling empty and unhappy. I agree with most of them, probably 99% of them in fact. Something about the way we are taught lends itself to the widespread belief that it is OK to be miserable with your job. Beyond that, a lot of people wouldn’t even know how to get a job they do like. You’re unlikely to find the position of your dreams on Monster.com, especially if you are looking at entry level positions, which yields a lot of high turnover job listings. The classic process for finding your next career move is flawed:
- Look for job postings
- Submit a hundred resumes
- Call and follow up with HR
- Hope for interviews from a small percentage of jobs you applied for
Let’s not play the numbers game this time, and start thinking about why/how we should end up in jobs that we love. Before you move on, if you aren’t motivated, please watch this clip of Gary Vaynerchuk in 2008. For fun, you can try not to get pumped up.
WHY WOULD I DO SOMETHING I HATE FOR 40 HOURS PER WEEK?
It’s been a long time since I worked for a company or had a position that I didn’t like. Mostly because I found out that I love sales, which eventually turned into a love for all things business. For those of you that don’t stumble upon a career you love by accident, I am hoping that this post illuminates a simple process for you to work with. It’s my dream that my family and friends are happy with their work lives and it’s a subject that I feel I can speak on, simply because I love what I do. One thing that I have never understood is that someone would be willing to work at job they dislike, long term. I understand that certain emergency situations can require someone to take a job that they don’t like, but I would argue the majority of people out there, simply don’t put in the effort to get the job they really want. Ask yourself this question, “Why would I do something I hate for 40 hours per week?” Now try and answer it, if you can’t, then keep reading.
HOW DO I GET MY DREAM JOB WITHOUT EXPERIENCE?
This won’t apply to everybody that reads this post. What I mean is, some of you will already have the experience you need for a position and this process will still work for you as well. There is another group that I really want to help, and that is the young and ambitious rock star who isn’t getting the attention they deserve. Too many potential matches for the job get passed by, because they don’t have the experience an employer wants for the position. We’re going to focus on separating yourself from the rest of the pack, while highlighting your passion for the job, and impressing potential employers with your capabilities.
YOU’RE BETTER THAN YOUR RESUME
Too many hiring decisions are made by people that have never done the position they are filling, and/or by people that really don’t have actual training in hiring personnel. Are you really comfortable letting that person make a decision about hiring you? What about deciding whether or not you should even get an interview based on a piece of paper? I’ll answer for you, NO, you’re not OK with this.
As a person/employee, I have always felt that I am better than a piece of paper. I’m even better than a piece of paper that is about me! There is a reason or two why a lot of deals are closed in person. The forces of person to person interaction, are more powerful than your track record written down. Not to mention, there are so many constraints to how you must compose a resume, that important information is traded for hyperbole and jargon. You have capabilities, and your experience is only a measure of how many times those capabilities have been put to the test. To put it this way, one year playing basketball for Michael Jordan, isn’t the same as one year playing basketball for me or you. That includes you, Lebron. The point is, you need to help prove your capabilities to the people doing the hiring and the people you will be working for. If you believe in yourself, get them to believe in you too. Once they believe, experience doesn’t really matter.
THIS IS HOW I AM GOING TO GET THE JOB I WANT
It should be pretty obvious by now that you should get a job you love, so let’s stop talking about that and start talking about how to get the job you want. Here are some easy and actionable steps to get you going. I’m going to keep them simple, so if you have any questions ask them in the comments and I will do my best to elaborate if needed.
1. Find your passions in life – Open up a spreadsheet on your computer (Google Docs, Excel, whatever), and start making a list of anything that you are passionate about. Mine would be something like: Entrepreneurship, Startups, Video Games, Cooking, Web apps, Hip Hop, etc. We are trying to give ourselves some leads on where to take our research.
2. Start to research companies that are in an industry associated with your passion - Don’t worry about what your position would be OR if they have openings listed on their website just yet! Let’s just look for the companies that interest you. A good place to look is industry blogs, Google, or even curated lists like the Inc. 500 or 5000. Once you have your list of 10 to 12 companies, feel free to jot down the different types of jobs you might like to have at these companies. This next part is CRITICAL, write down what you like about the company. Even simple things that you notice can play a big part.
3. Create a LinkedIn account to research your potential boss - Go to Linkedin.com and open an account. When prompted, import that contacts that you feel you could connect with, from your email. There is a powerful network effect on LinkedIn that allows you to see more users/employees from companies through your connections. After that, start looking at the people that work for the companies you are researching. Look for your potential boss, coworkers, execs, and just the overall feel for the people that make up the culture of the company. From this research, you should be able to tell how you are connected, what similarities you have from work experience in the past, and other clues about recent changes at the company. Add the contacts that you find on LinkedIn, to the spreadsheet.
4. Prepare for and carry out a call to your future boss - With the information that you have collected, you are going to call your future boss to get this process started. This is best to do, before you send in your resume. The first thing to note is that this is a great way to set yourself apart from every other joker that submits a resume. Grab the information you got from your research and call the company. Mention who you are, why you like/are interested in the company, why you are calling that specific person, that you are thinking about your next career move, and ask what they look for in a team member. Use the information that you get and let them know that you are very interested in joining the team, if that is the case.
5. Ask for the next steps and push forward through the hiring process – When you end the conversation, ask if you can come into the office to chat about opportunities. This is a great time to share your resume if that is what they want next. So if they ask for the resume upfront, tell them you can come in to drop it off. From here, it’s business as usual when it comes to interviewing and hired. After that interaction, assuming it went well, you have separated yourself from the rest of the applicants. In the case of a company without a job posting, you probably don’t have any competition and despite what you might think, this is a highly successful way to look for jobs/network with companies you like. In some cases, they will create a job for you. Can you imagine telling your friends and family that your next job was created just for you?
That’s the process that I tell my friends to use when they talk to me about their careers. Some have had great success with it, some have chosen to go other routes with success as well. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if it is going to be helpful for you.
Now that you’re in the door, the rest is up to you. If you’re true to yourself during the process above, you should be setup to speak from the heart on why you would be good to work with, and why you are passionate about working there. In today’s work environment, it’s hard to beat hiring passionate people that are familiar with your business and are legitimately excited to work for you. Good luck and happy hunting! I’d love to hear about anybody that pulls off their next big position using this system.
Is there anything you think would make this process better/easier? Let me know in the comments.