Based on more than two decades’ experience managing, advising, and researching career growth, I’ve found there are three keys to finding the right job or opportunity. It is important to explore the possibilities, communicate your value, and activate your network.
Explore The Possibilities
We think too narrowly about opportunity, often focusing on jobs we’ve had in the past, or opportunities family and friends recommend. When you ask others for help the most typical responses include:
- What do you want to do?
- What is your dream job?
- What is your passion?
I don’t ask clients these questions because many of us have little to no idea. I got tired of seeing the fear and worry on peoples’ faces as they tried to answer these questions. I use a different approach I ask, “What are you willing to explore?”
I like using this word for few reasons. First, explore is a verb, and that means action. Finding the right opportunity or job requires action on your part. Explore means traveling through an unfamiliar country or area. The best jobs are often hidden, requiring you to search and travel a new path. Explore means searching for resources. The best opportunities allow you to discover and use underdeveloped and new resources and skills. Explore also means to inquire into or discuss in detail. Finding the best role for you will require you to speak with others and learn about the nuances and details of a role. By exploring the possibilities, you can go from being frustrated and tired about your search to excited and energized.
To help broaden clients’ perspectives, I use the Job Exploration Summary tool to get started. To learn more, refer to my post on the tool (https://tedfleming.com/job-exploration-summary/).
Communicate Your Value
Many of us interview poorly and speak in jargon. People can’t help you if they don’t know how you can add value to an organization. They also won’t reach out to you if they need help. Imagine a family friend is recovering at home after being in a car accident. They will be out of work for a month while they complete physical therapy. You visit, bring flowers, and try to cheer your friend up. As you leave you say, “let me know if you need anything?” Phycologists say it is unlikely that person will take you up on your offer. Why? Because they don’t know what you can and are willing to do. Anything could mean: 1) I’ll drive you to physical therapy appointments; 2) take care of the kids; 3) cook meals; 4) lend you money; 5) etc. Absent this information, your friend does not want to impose upon you.
Hiring managers also want to know what you can do (experience / past successes), and what you are willing to do (job aspiration / interests). I use the Mapping Your Experience tool to help clients effectively communicate the value they offer. To learn more, refer to my post on the tool (https://tedfleming.com/mapping-your-experience/).
Activate Your Network
Simply put, many of us don’t get others to help us find the best opportunity. I hear it every week. College students want to “get the job on my own”, without asking mom or dad for help. Employees don’t want to discuss their career aspirations with their manager because “they will be upset with me and think I want to leave right now.” Job seekers assume friends and family can’t help them because they don’t work in or know about your industry.
All these viewpoints are shortsighted. It is rare to find a good job on your own with no one in your social network aware you are looking. It is better to cast a wider net. Who cares if your mom or dad help you get an interview or job? You still must impress the hiring manger; you still must do the work and perform on the job. A good manager helps you perform well in your existing role, while preparing you for your next role. If you work for someone who gets upset because you want to grow in your career, get out! Finally, you don’t know who your family and friends know. They may not know the details about your job, but they can introduce you to someone they know that works in your target industry, company, or role.
Networking is the best way to activate your network. I find most people network the wrong way. I show people how to maximize the benefit of their network using the Networking Quadrant tool. To learn more, refer to my post on the tool (https://tedfleming.com/networking-quadrant/).
Broaden your perspective, communicate your values, and network the right way to create a bridge from where you are today to where you want to go.