Tribe: On Homecoming & Belonging by American journalist, author and filmmaker Sebastian Junger is rich with story and fact, and I highly recommend reading it in full (~150 pages). In this brief summary, I share the main points that continue to stick with me, and how lessons from Tribe apply to today’s job seekers.
Every day I see job seekers with LinkedIn headlines or even resume summaries that start out like this:
In between jobs…
In fact, almost 1 million LinkedIn members are using these headlines to try and land their next gig right now.
But this approach is a huge mistake for two very important reasons:
The job search often feels like a black box -- you have no idea which inputs actually get noticed and make a difference in getting you that job offer.
But while the complex process of applying, networking and interviewing for jobs does require a strategic approach, I'm happy to share my four favorite phrases that quickly cut through the noise and dramatically improve my clients’ job search results.
In this article I share the four phrases -- and more importantly, the mindsets beneath them -- that drive not only job search success, but career success.
Most people don’t know what exactly they want to do with their careers. Even among leaders at Harvard Business School, fewer than 20% report having a strong sense of their career purpose.
Yet the perspective I consistently hear from job seekers (and that I have been pressured to feel in my own career) is that we are all born with one innate career purpose. And that if we just look hard enough or in the right places, we will find it. And that once we find it, we will be happy in our careers for all eternity.
This is quite simply the worst career advice out there. It’s not reflected in the numbers. It’s certainly not empowering to the 80% of us who don’t have that one career goal in mind. And most importantly, it’s not grounded in the reality that we are constantly changing people in a constantly changing world.
A metaphor I like to use for all the “innate purpose” and “follow your passion” advice is Michelangelo’s David.
The goal of my work is to get people inspired to dream big about their careers, and to help them follow the step-by-step path to landing their dream job.
But I must confess that the biggest mind-shift most of my clients experience while working with me or participating in my Land Your Dream Job course is this:
We achieve happiness in our careers not when we ‘get it all’, but rather when we recognize what’s most important to us, and optimize for that.
Every day I speak with professionals eager to find happiness at work. And I ask everyone the same first question: “What does happiness at work mean to you; what does it look like?”
If you’re like most people, your response goes something like this:
To stay or not to stay. Is that the question?
Oftentimes professionals fall into the trap of viewing finding a new job as an all-or-nothing decision: “Either I stick with the status quo, or I try for something better. What to do?”
Sadly, framing the question in this way leads to indecision that can drag on months or even years, because we’re searching for perfect clarity (or waiting for a perfect gig to fall in our lap) before we take action.
But you can’t think or wait your way out of career indecision. It just doesn’t work. It takes more action -- and less thinking -- to either land that next job or come to a place of peace in your current one.
What you should be asking yourself is, “What small action could I take today to move my career in the right direction?”
It’s the end of the year, which means most of us are focused on getting out of the office -- and getting into our comfiest pajamas to celebrate the holidays with family and friends.
But before you turn off your office lights and drive home to the tune of Bing Crosby’s ‘Happy Holidays’ (I can hear him crooning now...), here are 3 questions I recommend asking yourself to make sure you close out the year strong and set yourself up to hit the ground running next year.
One of the biggest mistakes job seekers (and all professionals) make is waiting to engage with their network until they need something.
Although we know we should “always be networking,” most professionals avoid networking because it feels time consuming, scary, and inauthentic.
But there’s a quick, easy and genuine networking activity you can do from your desk that improves your relationships, dramatically alters your career opportunities, and makes the world a better place.
I’ve read more articles than I can count sharing ideas for reviving a stagnant job search. And I feel beyond frustrated every time I see suggestions like “Attend a networking event!” “Call your mentor!” and “Update that resume!”
Succeeding in the modern day job search requires a strategic approach. So when you start to feel stuck (most job seekers experience this at least once in their search), don't just try anything and everything.
Instead, pursue only the activities that address your specific challenges -- thereby saving you time and generating the results you need to move forward.
Learn the two-step process I use with job seekers who find themselves in a job search rut.
Once you’ve identified the career paths you’re most passionate about pursuing, it’s important to check in and ask yourself honestly, how hard do you want your job search to be?
My personal philosophy that I share with my clients is that I sincerely believe you can achieve just about any career path -- if you’re willing to do what it takes to get there.
But before you dive into your search, it’s helpful to have a clear understanding of how well your experience and expertise to-date position you to achieve your career goals, and to be honest with yourself about which type of transition you’re willing to take on.
First, you need to recognize that employers generally look for three areas of expertise for any job: