Funny how different people approach the job search in different ways. Some go at like gangbusters, knocking down every door like a SWAT team at a drug bust; others tiptoe through the tulips, cautiously making their way in case they might make a false step. Which is better? Well, what do you prefer: apples or oranges? Red or white? Vanilla or maroon beebleberry? Fact is, everyone does it their own way, which makes it extraordinarily difficult to say one thing or another in a blog like this or in a book.
Still, some have managed. If you haven’t picked up Richard Bolles’s “What Color is Your Parachute” recently, you should. The 2005 edition, not the 1990 edition that was sitting in my bookshelf until a client quite rightly twitted me about it. Bolles still has so much good advice—you don’t have to do every exercise or fill in every blank he asks you to.
But you can get the flavor of his approach, one that is tried and true. After all, if priests running from their flocks can use it successfully, you can, too! (Bolles started out counseling ministers who were leaving the church back in the late 60s; the first edition of “Parachute” came out in 1970.) His chart on the differences between informational interviewing, networking and contacting people is almost worth it in itself. Use what you want, pick up what you need, you don’t have to do it all.
Still, you ought to consider one thing that he makes clear: you should be doing the research, contacting your network, and conducting informational interviews on potential employers. Go to a company and check it out. Talk with workers before you talk with the hiring managers; find out the culture; dig around to see if it’s a good fit—clothes, offices, pace, group dynamics, lots of freedom or lots of structure, whatever you can think of—and only after you are satisfied should you move forward. After all, you’re the one who will be spending their most precious resource (time) at the company.
So…you ain’t begging; you are not on the hot seat, you’re in the driver’s seat. One MPNer who just landed a job demonstrated it dramatically: they had their minimum salary firmly in mind, they continued to network and apply and dig out opportunities even after the verbal offer was made, and a good one at that. They went out and picked the employer as much as the other way around.
And when it comes to networking with people to find those companies you want to work at, consider what was said in the MPN Members Handbook, the “Yellowbook”:
“You’ve got a lot more to give your contact than you think. Don’t be fooled: you may feel like you’re the one who is begging for help or taking advantage of others. But you can give a lot in the process: it’s your job to find out exactly what. Industry info, respect and admiration, the chance to help someone else, a favor for another friend who is looking to hire someone like you… you never know. But it is a two-way street.”
So go out on this two-way street and take a drive (right hand side in the USA, remember), at your own pace of course. Go slow in the right lane so you can see all the sights; get over in the left lane and bomb full speed to your destination; or do a little of both, waving to fellow drivers as you go. Be sure to make pit stops along the way and see how much you can find, how many chances you can get to give back, and, finally, which company you’d really like to invest your time and talents in. After all, these days, you’re the boss of your own company: YOU, Inc.