“The best way to predict your future is to create it” – Abraham Lincoln
Happy New Year! Are you ready for 2018? Do you have a neat to-do list of how to make yourself a better, more productive individual? What are your 2018 resolutions?
Personally, I think New Years resolutions are terrible. Here is why.
Resolutions focus on the end result rather than the journey, which can set you up for failure. And, resolutions incentivize procrastination.
For example, the goal of going from never exercising to becoming a fitness guru with a “no days off” mentality is a lofty one and will take a great deal of time and discipline. Between your current state and the goal, there are several smaller goals that must be achieved.
Rather than focusing on working out 7 days a week, simply join a local gym and explore different classes. Focusing on what works for you (i.e.: The Journey) creates a sustainable plan of action and relieves the pressure to succeed immediately.
By creating an achievable goal, you’re also allowing yourself the freedom to “fail” and re-tune your approach. And if you make your goal a “today resolution” rather than a “yearly resolution” and you fall short, tomorrow make it a “today resolution” again. Treat every day like your New Year, and you’ll find a million tiny victories
So, whether your New Years Resolution is to become a fitness guru, purge your storage unit, drink more water, or land your dream job, remember these two things: 1) Every day is your opportunity to try it again and 2) Failing isn’t failing, it is just learning and re-doing.
Now, with these two rules in mind, I recommend giving yourself a few simple resolutions to jump start your new job search in 2018. These 5 “resolutions” don’t necessarily have to be followed, but I hope they spark a new train of thought on how you are going to create your 2018.
1) Stop Applying Anonymously
Traditionally, you start with a job in mind. You search for the job using any number of job boards (there are about 1,000 different ones) and then apply to it using a slightly tailored resume and a generic cover letter.
Most likely, you have done some version of this dozens of times, maybe even hundreds of times. Applying to positions has turned into a numbers game where we apply after merely skimming descriptions, upload one of ten different resumes, and never think of it again. We have put our job search on autopilot.
I challenge you, in 2018, to reverse this method.
Instead of casting your net wide into the online sea of opportunities and hoping something will bite, work within the network you know. Your friends, professional colleagues, classmates, and fellow alumni all have the potential to be an internal referral for you. Find your goal, and see what your Network can provide that could lead you to it.
For example, you could be offered a positon within a company that you have connections with, and once you gain experience there you can internally network to achieve your dream job in a different department. These opportunities will probably come few and far between, but each one will be a much more valuable opportunity than the 20 notifications you receive in a day from a job board.
LinkedIn super-star Michael Quinn states “Simply applying to vacancies online gives you less than a 4% chance of getting an interview. Employee referrals give increase your odds of getting the job 11x. It makes sense: only about 5 candidates make it to the hiring manager for interviews. How many of them do you think are employee referrals or internal hires? Did I mention that some companies are required by federal law to post jobs – even if they already have someone “identified” for it? Make 2018 the year you truly NETWORK”
Build your network and use what you have to achieve what you want. Always ask for an internal referral after you apply, and do the same for others, too!
2) Don’t be Afraid to Pursue Jobs That Seem Out of Your Reach
Before you apply for CEO of anything, remember that you must always have the education and experience required of the positions you are applying. However, I believe like the autopilot application process, you may be stuck in rut of applying for the same positions over and over again, without re-assessing your worth.
There are so many different opportunities available to job seekers today, and your knowledge, skills and abilities can translate into a plethora of different positions. Don’t let yourself get pigeonholed into the last position you held. Instead, look at the position you desire to hold in, say, 10 years. Look at people who have that position, and see where they came from, their roots. From there, you can begin to see the moves you must make in your career, and find similar opportunities to pursue.
Also, keep in mind the workforce climate – many many people are vying for the same opportunities. Often, the person in the entry level or management position is actually overqualified for it. Why is that? Simply put, the best way to guarantee success is to aim for the low-hanging fruit.
I challenge you, in 2018, to aim high.
Seek out positions you believe to be a little out of your reach. Notice that I say “seem”, this is because if you are determined and if you have the ambition and drive to pursue a challenging job, it will yield great success for you. If you are not moving up, where are you moving?
3) Seek Out Mentorship
Asking for advice is a very underrated technique in finding your dream career. It seems superfluous to your career trajectory initially, but think about it: Who knows the best path to success better than the person in your dream job now!
Mentorships begin either organically through a leader at your current place of work, or through your initiative to seek out one for an information interview. LinkedIn is invaluable in identifying and contacting a potential mentor. For those who have never requested an informational interview from someone; it is as simple an an Inmail asking for 15 minutes on the phone, or offering a free coffee after work one day.
Informational interviews are the first step in building rapport, but also in gaining first-hand knowledge on the “golden path”. Every person has a unique “how I arrived” story. Sometimes it is happen-stance, and of course each story will have some form of internal advocacy, as we know that landing a job is a lot of who you know. But in each story there are also common themes, and with enough conversations you can begin to map out what would be the best plan of action for your career path.
I challenge you, in 2018, to ask for help.
Find your champion, and you will find invaluable knowledge, professional advice, guidance on difficult decisions, and probably a lifelong friend.
4) Reflect and Improve
Now that you have tapped into your Network, pursued ambitious roles, gained information and possibly found a mentor to guide you, it is time to check out your weaknesses.
Reflection is a vital skill. It helps you understand where your strengths lie, but more importantly where you fall short. If you are repeatedly pursuing opportunities and being rejected, it may be wise to look inward. Are you missing a pertinent level of experience that other applicants have? Is there a specific area of interest or a skill you lack that this employer may not require but prefers?
This year, make a conscience effort to pursue those areas that you may be weakest. Not only to better yourself as a professional, but to better yourself as an individual as well. Using your network and information you gain in your job search, make yourself the most marketable applicant. By constantly reflecting and improving, you are constantly evolving into a better version of yourself.
I challenge you, in 2018, to build a skill, join a professional society, pursue leadership roles, or volunteer.
All of these are actions that successful individuals are constantly pursuing. Although it may require some extra time and effort, employers will notice, and you will shoot to the top of a list of similar candidates for the initiative you take.
5) Take a risk
Lastly, when the moment comes for you to take the leap of faith – take a risk! You may be offered that position you never thought you were qualified for, or you get an opportunity to move to a much larger company and become a small fish in a raging sea.
All of these changes are scary, and that is good! It was Karen Salmansohn who said “The best things in life are often waiting for you at the exit ramp of your comfort zone” and I couldn’t agree more.
I challenge you, in 2018, to move out of your comfort zone.
Happy New Year!