You should be managing your career instead of jumping from job to job without a clear vision.
Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way. - Edward de Bono, psychologist
Have you heard of the Google Job Experiment? In an attempt to get interviews with five top creative directors (Scott Vitrone, Ian Reichenthal, Gerry Graf, Tony Granger, and David Droga), Copywriter Alec Brownstein spent $6 on Google AdWords to reach them. When they Googled their names (as many of us do), a message from Brownstein appeared, "Hey Ian Reichenthal. Goooogling [sic] yourself is a lot of fun. Hiring me is fun, too." As a result, Brownstein ended up getting four interviews, two job offers, and he's now working at Young & Rubicam, or was, according to the video he created.
Obviously, Brownstein's novel approach was ingenious, but credit should also be given to how clear he was on what he wanted. Most of us go from job to job without a focus on what we want to do or where and what we want to work on. We're bored or underpaid or unemployed, and, bam, a recruiter calls and we're on our way.
I had a friend, who on her 30th birthday became super clear on what she wanted from a prospective boyfriend. She made a list that included her "non-negotiable items," the "nice to haves," and then the things that she thought mattered that really didn't. I thought it was pretty funny at the time, but truth be told, she met someone that year and they've been happily married ever since. I'm not sure if he met all the criteria, but I am sure that she felt she had more control and understanding of what she wanted. I think a similar approach should be applied to our careers.
You should be managing your career instead of jumping from job to job without a clear vision. This is not to say that every detail of your career should be determined for the next 20 years (in fact, it probably shouldn't), but if you are in the market for your next move, then some thought and planning should be a part of that. For example, there may be companies that you absolutely adore and would love to work for, or there may be a specific position that you think you would be a great candidate for; this position may not even exist yet. How would you present yourself to a potential employer to be considered for such a position? I know someone who wanted to work for a beverage manufacturer and had their résumé engraved as part of their product, including the ingredients that made them suited for the role. How would you package yourself for your dream job?
The truth is that you don't need to wait for an invitation or an open position. In fact, the best time to market yourself is when a position is not open. Why? For one, there's no competition with other candidates. Secondly, there's not an immediate job that needed to be filled yesterday where time is not on your side. Thirdly, your prospective boss is not spending their already busy schedule working overtime, filling in for a position that is open while also interviewing candidates all day. Also, when a position needs to be filled quickly, employers may be reluctant to take a chance on the creative proposal you put forth and may feel more confident sticking to the tried and true approach. This isn't to say don't go for it when a position is open, but to say don't let a lack of opportunity persuade or dissuade you one way or the other. Take control and harness your energy in where you want to be.
Focusing your energy extends beyond the presentation of your "résumé." It will also play a role in how you network yourself. If you want to work for UNICEF, attend events and connect through social media with people that would support that goal. In reality, employers want people who want to work for their company. They don't want to be your back-up plan; they want to be your plan.
Think about your next dream job. What are you passionate about? Which companies do you admire? What do you need from your work right now?
Need inspiration? Share your thoughts or email me directly.
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Based in New York, Anna Papadopoulos has held several digital media positions and has worked across many sectors including automotive, financial, pharmaceutical, and CPG.
An advocate for creative media thinking and an early digital pioneer, Anna has been a part of several industry firsts, including the first fully integrated campaign and podcast for Volvo and has been a ClickZ contributor since 2005. She began her career as a media negotiator for TBS Media Management, where she bought for media clients such as CVS and RadioShack. Anna earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from St. John's University in New York.
Anna's ideas and columns represent only her own opinion and not her company's.
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