While looking for work the past couple of weeks I have had an epiphany:
Let the work come to me rather than conduct a “search.”
Just like in one of the best word games of all time, the “search” does not get you much. You do not get many points in the board game or in the game of life when you “search” for something, such as a job.
Anytime I search for anything I don’t find it: my keys, the $20 bill I just had, my eyeglasses (usually they are on my face when I think they’re missing), men (as in to go out on dates with), etc.
Therefore, I have decided that searching for a job is not the way to become gainfully employed.
What I have replaced the job search with is what I’m calling: Full Sensory Immersion.
I am going around more people and networking with them. I am walking around in nature, yes in the Sonoran Desert heat, and fully immersing myself in everything that I am around. I am enjoying the sights, sounds, smells, touches, etc that I come in contact with.
In other words, I am taking the pressure off of the search for work.
I am not begging or imploring a “pick me please” strategy for work that is not conducive to career advancement nor allows me to nail the position with the right parts of me (yes, I am going back to my hammer metaphor a couple of posts ago). It does not help businesses, clients or me to go about the search with 25 different versions of my resume just to land “a job, any job.” This is the worst strategy to have.
Instead, I am being introspective and honest about what will be most beneficial for all parties involved in the way of the work that I do. I use that honesty and pay attention to the world around me to see what shows up.
While I am unsure of what the end result will be, I see progress with this new strategy.
This experiment reminds me of what I have done as a Social Media Marketer on my own in the past: A/B test a variable and see which ads yield the best results. In this A/B test, we have the resume posting strategy (because my resumes are still live on various job boards) and then we have the full immersion strategy. Everything else that each strategy involves is the same. The only difference is how I am acquiring interviews.
I like this new strategy: Full Immersion. It requires you to be social.
I don’t mean snap a selfie, go onto a social media platform of your choice, type a few witty words and appear to be social in the hopes you will get a few fake views. In my mind a fake view means people see a post that’s based on how well you’ve staged a “moment” in your so-called life. Don’t get me wrong, I love social media and use it all the time; however, I am starting to hear people say how isolated it’s all making them feel.
Full Immersion requires you to be social vis-a-vis. Things happen such as you are sitting next to two people talking about how much trouble they are experiencing with their businesses. One talks about how client retention is an issue due to customer service complaints. The other one talks about the inability to find talent with the skills needed to build a sufficient pipeline. Talk like that is something that makes your ears perk, your business card appear from nowhere and your mouth form the words, “Excuse me, I didn’t mean to eavesdrop; however…”
Conversation ensues. A connection is made, with two business owners. You politely talk about the Asian cuisine you are all consuming. Not only have you learned about position openings, but you have learned that you all have something in common: a love for Asian food.
You talk about the statues you saw in the same complex of the restaurant in front of the Fine Art gallery. This opens the door for you to learn that not only does one of the owners love fine art, but has a friend of a friend of another gallery in town. You walk away with additional names to contact directly regarding other positions with other companies. You walk away feeling satiated by the Bibimap, Veggie Roll and Egg Drop soup you consumed during the unexpected shared lunch, and an enjoyable afternoon memory.
This is what I call being social, but more importantly, this is what I call networking. The only pictures are of the food because I respect the privacy of recruiters. However, this afternoon may be one that will change my life. If not, I may know of someone else who may be a better candidate for the positions I learned about. I had a little bump upward in engagement on my website since they scanned my business card.
During a quick break into a nearby gas station on a different day I overhear someone ending a cell phone conversation about requirements for a position. When the call ends I interrupt with “pardon me, did I overhear you say that you hire for X company?” A conversation takes place all while we pump our gas. Before we each leave I learn that I am not a fit for what the recruiter needs. However, I give her a business card anyway. Because one never knows what the future holds, or who she knows.
Later I receive a quick text stating she has a friend who is recruiting for a position that she thinks may be suitable for me, am I interested?
Here’s what I am writing to you:
1. Pay Attention to who you are surrounded by.
I survey the room now in every setting I am in to see what I can glean is really going on. Who is talking on the phone? Who is talking in a little huddle of people? What are they talking about? Do I hear business talk? Do I hear them talking about their dogs? What they did over the weekend? Do I hear opportunity in anything that is going on?
2. Go to a Coffee house at some point in the day and observe what is going on.
A lot of business goes down in coffee houses, especially early in the morning. Do you see a group of people with a couple of tables pushed together with laptops or tablets on the table having conversations. What are they talking about? In the times that I have incorporated this into my day I notice some main groups: independent business owners, recruiters, college students, industry trainees, and spouses of C suite people. Listen to what they talk about, learn what groups meet at the coffee houses at night, pay attention to what is going on around you there.
3. Observe what people are reading.
This can be tricker since many people read on devices now; however, one beautiful way to implore this is to go to a bookstore. Go to the section with books about your industry, your desired industry, or job searching and observe who you see there looking at books. Go to the magazine section with industry specific magazines and do the same. You never know who you will have the opportunity to meet and to have a brief conversation with.
4. Have a business card
It is amazing to me how many people no longer carry business cards. I have to admit that I did not myself for the first part of this work acquisition journey. Is the card scannable? A quick conversation followed up with your business card may get you a call for an interview.
5. Hang out during your free time
This is huge. Do not stay at home when you have nothing to do. You need to be out among people doing things that you enjoy. This allows you the chance to strike up conversations about a common hobby which may lead to something like, “I thought I’d come out a play a round of golf to take a break from interviewing” “It’s so relaxing to paint this pottery as a little break from interview preparation…”
6. Find out what organizations are holding meetings and go
If your favorite hobby is Cosplay and there is a local Cosplay meeting this week, go. Introduce yourself, talks about what you love about Cosplay and you never know…a hiring manager may be there at the Cosplay meeting who likes that you share a hobby and may think you’d be a good fit for his company.
7. Study your industry, create work samples, upgrade your job board profiles and work on your portfolio website
Don’t just sit there hoping someone recruiter will call you or email you just because you applied online for a position before doing your own full immersion experiment, do some tasks that will help you get meaningful work. Create work samples, blog, study changes in your industry, study what the biggest challenges in your industry are. Get some work done. It takes work to get work.
For example, if you love dogs and have some Social Media marketing experience see if your local animal shelter needs some help with creating Post Engagement to get the word out about animal adoptions. If you enjoy working with children and have a Fine Arts background check with local organizations that work with Foster children, abused children, etc to see if they need people to teach art as therapy. There is a lot that can be done, and I am simply offering up examples that may or may not lead to a foot in the door for new work. If nothing else, it gives you useful experience to add to your resume.
9. Always be Presentable and Positive
Years ago, when we first moved back to the area, my brother struck up a good conversation with a man he met in the grocery store. We had only been living back in town for four days. My brother stated that during their conversation and the man asked him if he transferred with a company or if he was looking for a job. My brother stated he was looking for a job. The man told him to come into his office and to ask for him by name. Long story short: the man was a VP of the local office, my brother was hired and worked at this company for about nine years. Even though it was an intensely hot day outside, my brother was well dressed, groomed and was pleasant…even at the grocery store. I share this story to say that one never knows when and where an opportunity may happen.
Work Acquisition is a 24/7 task. While you may experiment with different ways to do it (resume postings online and/or more), you should always be ready for opportunity when it knocks. Because you never know when it’s going to knock. Be ready to open up and let opportunity in.