Accelerate Your Job Search By Answering These 10 Questions
The nonstop evolution of work in a digital age has made it highly likely that at some point, nearly everyone will need to reinvent and relaunch their career. Sometimes, career change is driven by burnout, frustration or exhaustion, other times by necessity after a layoff. And other times because you're just no longer a fit for a company's needs. While mentoring a lot of very smart, talented and experienced people on job search + personal branding, I've asked them to focus on answering this series of questions to speed up their efforts and land in a better place:
The only requirements are that you commit to being brutally honest with yourself about this - don't pretend or whitewash the answers. And use real words - not business buzzwords - in your answers. As the saying goes, "Don't cheat at solitaire!"
1. WHAT WENT WRONG? WHAT WENT RIGHT?
Conduct a frank review of your career to date and understand what you've done well and where you haven't done so well. Breakdown the big things that have happened. Positives + negatives. Projects you've worked on that have gone well. Situations you've been in that were difficult. Teams that you've fit into comfortably. Bosses you didn't work with well. Things you did an amazing job on. Things that didn't really work out. Try taking a blank sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle and list them in a pros / cons, wrong / right, good / bad, awesome / shitty, etc...format.
2. WHAT ARE YOUR SUPERPOWERS?
I believe that everyone has a handful of skills where they are exceptional or have the potential to develop into greatness. Skills that make them essential to a company's success. Where you are uniquely remarkable. These aren't just "strengths" or abilities where you may be very good - but the 2-3 business skills you have that make people's jaws drop. The things you do that make people say "WOW." These skills should be the focus of your next role. They should be what you get paid to do.
3. WHAT DO YOU LOVE TO DO?
What is the role you love to play in an organization? What tasks, responsibilities, functions and areas of focus excite you? Ideally, these are linked to your answers to question #2 above (i.e. you're an exceptional storyteller and you love being on stage / presenting to a group).
4.WHAT'S THIS ROLE CALLED IN THE FREE WORLD?
Figure out what people + companies actually call this job. Don't worry about the exact title - focus on understanding its role in the organization. You'll probably find a few different variations of it. Use LinkedIn or other job sites to find out more. Find a few people that have a similar job on LinkedIn and look at how they position themselves and their career history.
5. WHAT TYPE OF ENVIRONMENT SUITS YOU BEST?
Understand what the type of company / culture where you fit best is. For example – someone could be great at being a general manager of a business unit / division of a large, bureaucratic company. They're great at politics and managing internally. But if they were to move to a smaller, faster moving, more entrepreneurial culture – they'd be lost. Key things to think of are size, management style, growth / contraction, company culture and similar questions.
6. WHAT ARE THE SPECIFIC INDUSTRIES YOU HAVE A PASSION FOR?
What are the types of businesses you want to work on? Do you want to work in financial services? Software? Socially-responsible companies? Sports? Healthcare? Food? Hospitality? Adult films? List out the ones you want to be in.
7. WHAT ARE 10 COMPANIES THAT FIT YOUR ROLE, PASSION, ENVIRONMENT + GREATNESS?
Name some companies that fit the criteria you've listed above - industries you're passionate about, the size / environment that fits you best - and understand how the role you'd play fits into them.
8. WHO ARE 10 CONTACTS THAT CAN HELP YOU CONNECT TO PEOPLE IN THESE COMPANIES?
Now, make a list of people in your network who can help you get a foot in the door at these companies. Use your contact lists, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, address books, rolodex and business card files. The idea is to connect with someone in the company who can ultimately help you get in front of the right people.
9. HOW WILL SOMEONE INTRODUCE YOU?
What's the phrase that these connections will use to describe you?
Take all of the answers to the questions above and write the headline of your biography. This is your elevator pitch that you can give to someone when they ask you about yourself. All of your materials need to connect back to this story. This becomes a great script you can use in your conversations / emails / meetings to help you get people to help you and to move them to specific actions / door opening / introductions for you. A simple test is what i call the cocktail party test - what do you tell people you do when you meet them at a social event?
A great example of this is from Dan Pink -
10. ASK FOR HELP. BE SPECIFIC.
This is sometimes the hardest thing for many people. The world wants to help you - you'll be amazed at how people will bend over backwards to open doors and make introductions. But if you just ask for help - most people don't really know what to do. You'll find that you'll go to a lot of what i call "Barney Meetings" - conversations where there's a lot of "I love you, you love me" but that ultimately don't lead to any results. The more specific your ask is, the more success you'll have.
What do you think? What do you advise people that ask for job search help?