5 steps to new job opportunities

May 13 2014

Looking for a job?

You’ve made your first mistake. As cliché as it sounds, you won’t find it if you’re looking for it. Instead, make moves to create the position of your dreams (a place you feel valued and valuable, projects you’re interested in, opportunities that benefit from your talents, people you admire).

1. Skip small talk and have real conversations.

Schedule twenty-minute informational calls (or coffees) with people you respect to learn more about their work. Ask about the good, bad, and ugly bits of their industry. Then, find parallel roles in different fields and ask those individuals how they tackle similar challenges. Meaningful conversations build meaningful relationships.

And say thank you. You never know when your paths may cross. I’ve met strangers in Shanghai I’ve introduced to entrepreneurs in California. Your rolodex is one of your most prized commodities.

2. Know thyself.

What’s your anchor? You need something grounding you, a general direction you’re heading. It doesn’t need to be entirely specific, but you need a fencepost to harness your efforts (think of a laser beam vs. diffused light; concentrated anything is stronger and more effective).

Find a quiet place to relax with a cup of coffee and honestly assess what makes you miserable, what you’re good at, what you’d like to be doing, and what you can’t live without. Reserve an afternoon — or a week — to pay close attention to moments your heart flutters. Is it anxiety, excitement, or both?

3. Are you hunting or fishing?

You can look for freelance work or you can start writing articles about topics you’re passionate about. You can ask for job openings or you can volunteer a few hours of pro-bono consulting and evaluate a company’s needs. You can ask for references or you can send role models invitations to lectures that pertain to their projects.

By placing yourself in environments that highlight your strengths, you will attract opportunities and connections that are right for you. Just because you don’t have a job doesn’t mean you can’t start cultivating something great.

4. Walk with confidence. 

Unemployment doesn’t mean you’re less of a person. When you’re feeling down and out, it shows. Pay attention to your posture and the way you walk. If you’ve completed Steps 1-3, do so confidently, with your head high.

You have skills, you have talents; flaunt them. Your childhood, your struggles, your unique lessons and experiences all contribute to what makes you uniquely valuable. Make a list of your areas of expertise and fold it into your wallet if you’re needing an extra boost. 

5. Open windows and doors and screens and welcome everyone over for tea.

If you can reframe “unemployment” as an opportunity, you’re on your way to gold. Imagine yourself as a traveler, an adventurer. There will be ups and downs, exhilaration and disappointment. Open up to all of it. It’s too easy to focus on one thing and dwell; you’ll think yourself into a frenzy, or worse yet, paralyze yourself from action. Force your anxieties to adopt a wider perspective and welcome whatever comes your way, regardless of form. If you allow it, your journey may surprise you.