Looking for a new client; looking for a job. There are some huge similarities.
Here’s an insightful post by Nick Merkelson and full disclaimer, Nick is my son.
I’ve been told it’s always easier to find a job when you already have one. Something about the steady paycheck and showing a commitment to your employer leads me to believe this may be true. In my opinion, the job search is easiest when you dedicate yourself the search and not simply the end goal: the job. As a young professional who recently quit a negative working environment to pursue something better, here are three important points to being a better job hunter. (Disclaimer: Ill-informed hunting and fishing analogies scattered throughout.)
Too often job seekers cast too wide a net, applying for a million different positions with different titles and responsibilities. What begins as an expedition for Big Game turns into little more than firing pop-shots in the dark. Such unfocused, untargeted employment searches leave a job seeker with hardly a prize to be proud of. The job hunter’s goal is to focus on the nature of the work s/he would like to do. Dedicate yourself to finding and applying only for the jobs that will guarantee you work you love to do day in, day out. The hunt itself should ensure that the job seeker walks away with a better appreciation of his or her own expertise and aspirations. This is not to say a job hunter shouldn’t aim small at first, which leads to the second point…
DON’T UNDERQUALIFY (AND DISQUALIFY) YOURSELF
Job hunters must recognize where their talents are and how they may be applied. Catfishermen in the Delta don’t take up shotguns; they stick their arms in the mud, because that’s what experience and training tells them. Hiring managers can see clearly when an applicant isn’t a good fit because of poorly matched credentials. Know your skills – and embrace your lack of skills! – and strive to make those the reason for your hire. There may be multiple positions that, say, serve to educate the public about Issue X; one position may call for door-to-door canvassing, while another calls for policy research and reform. Different tasks, different roles, same goal. I think you get the point…
NEVER HUNT ALONE
I’ve never hunted (is it that obvious?!), but I know this: never hunt alone. We all need someone nearby to help us, through good and bad. Job hunters know there’s competition, so why go it alone? A job hunt is always more rewarding when there is a network of like-minded professionals in your camp. Seek out people in good places, who you admire as much for their position as their background, and tell them this: “I like what you do and I want to know how I can learn from your experiences.” Rarely will a professional colleague say no. (After all, humans are ego-driven animals, too!)
Hardly do I believe these are the be-all-end-all points for a successful job search. I’ve discounted myself from certain opportunities because I felt unqualified (“I don’t speak French, they’ll never hire me”), because I wasn’t in the right field (“I don’t like dogs, I don’t want to dog walk”), and because I had no connections (“My uncle can’t get me an interview”). Yet nothing about those instincts was wrongly applied. I’ve committed myself to a niche field with what appears to be an oversaturated applicant pool of other “emerging” professionals. I’m sorry, “emerging” is a politic way to admit being unseasoned, unspecific, and unconnected. My hunt may seem ever ongoing, but knowing these three points – focus, quality over quantity, and strong network – will most assuredly help me to bag a truly mythical beast.