When I was 15, my cousin Sasha came back from a year-long exchange in Australia. Over the course of countless conversations, she convinced me that becoming an exchange student would be great for my future. I’d learn a new language, a new culture, get to spend my entire Junior year abroad… not to mention the fulfillment of a serious travel bug.
So, a few months later, I started the process. Rotary International was not a simple process at the time. I competed against multiple candidates for the role. Officials visited my home, grilled me on concepts of adaptability and change… they even had me write essays (yuck!). I did it though. I went through the seemingly long process and was very happy when I found out that I had been selected.
Over the following year, I attended multiple weekend retreats to learn about diversity, cultural norms and a whole bunch of other survival tactics for living abroad (without parents) as a teenager. I must admit, there were more than a few moments when I questioned what I had gotten myself in to. Let’s face it… life would have been simpler just going through the motions. I didn’t have to put myself through this mess of study and anticipation. Fortunately, my curiosity spurred me on.
The biggest day of this year-long process was when we finally got to put in our country selections. We had to pick out three countries that we would want to move to. This
is no small or simple commitment for a (at that point) 16 year old. I chose Guatemala as my first pick.
I had apparently swallowed a “daring” pill that morning… It was only the second year that exchange students had been allowed to go to Guatemala. With the first democratic elections in some time on the horizon, it seemed like a real adventure. Would that ever prove to be the case!
Finding Faith In Job Search
No one ever said it was going to be easy to find that next position. To the contrary, and especially in our current economic climate, it can be really tough. The sought after clear path is often clouded by all of the unknown factors. It’s your job to push forward… so, pick up that machete and carve out a path. Know what you want, need, desire… and especially consider what you are naturally great at!
The next step is being vocal. Doors are much more likely to open when you knock… so, start knocking.
This does not mean that you send in a resume and hope for the best – that’s old school! Think outside the box a bit. Go target five people on Twitter, five LinkedIn group members… perhaps consider making cold calls to people that you don’t know. You don’t have to ask for a job… ask for advice.
One of the greatest ways to move forward in your job search is to explore opportunities. Notice, I didn’t say commit – simply explore! If you know what you like/dislike and what you are naturally good at… it’s pretty easy to call someone up and say, “Hi! My name is (your name). I came across your name as a great resource and I was hoping to get your advice.”
At this moment… one of two things will happen.
- I’m busy… *click*
- Sure! How can I help you?
Assuming you hit a #2 as opposed to the “busy” person… now is your chance. Present your situation with clarity and ask the person for their professional advice. It could go something like this:
“Thank you so much! I’m currently at a point of transition in my career and I was hoping to get some guidance from you. I’m passionate about (Fill in three things you are great at) and I would really love to dedicate my skills to an organization that embraces (Fill in two likes/workplace values). Do you have any ideas around how or where my talents would be best suited?”
At this point… SHUT YOUR MOUTH! Just wait for a response.
One of two things will more than likely occur:
- “I’m sorry, I don’t have any ideas for you.”
- “You should check in to (potential opportunity).”
It’s okay if they don’t have any ideas for you. Be polite, ask if they would mind keeping your contact info should something occur to them and move on.
If they give you an opportunity to pursue, be thankful! Ask for their email or perhaps consider a hand written note (this is a nice touch). Put them on your rapidly developing list of professional contacts and pursue the opportunity they presented… even if it doesn’t at first seem like a fit. You never know!
Most people have an inner desire to be useful. So, consider your “networking” as an opportunity to fulfill that person’s need to help and an opportunity for you to pursue the unknown that could lead to your next opportunity!
The unknown is a scary place until you get comfortable visiting. After a while your mind and nerves will settle in with the idea that visiting places and pursuing new experiences will often lead to good things.
So, think Guatemala… be brave… pursue that next position through the path of exploration. You’ll be glad you did!
What other “scary” tactics have you used in the past to move your job search forward? Anything work really well that you would like to share?