This is the first of the How I Found a Job series. I share my journey of having gone from a career as an entrepreneur to actually getting a day job with a commute and a salary. I have run JibberJobber for almost 12 years now but along came an opportunity, at just the right time, that landed me a job.
I have written on this blog that I believed I was unhireable. This is for a few reasons, including all of the bashing I’ve done on the job search and hiring process. Fortunately I’m in a position where I can still be involved deeply in that conversation. I’ve also thought I’ve been unhireable because I’ve sunk myself into entrepreneur mode, and I’ve learned that if there’s any group of people who are more untouchable than an out-of-work job seeker, it’s an entrepreneur (especially one who hasn’t sold their business).
Alas, here I am, employed (and running JibberJobber as my “side hustle”), and I want to walk you through the journey of how I found a job. I’ll leave out the pre-pre-part, where I went through a lot of soul searching and guilt and other feelings about even getting a day job. Maybe I’ll do that another time.
When I figured out it was time to look for a job I reached out to Rob Merrill, a solid friend and personal adviser (he’s wicked-smart), and said “what kind of job/title would I even look for?” Again, no one wanted to hire a generalist entrepreneur. He said clearly it was Product Manager, that I am one at JibberJobber, and that’s what I should look for.
I thought, yes, of course, that’s how I can package myself. And it is what I love. And then I remembered that is exactly what I was looking for years ago in my first job search!
So I went and set up some job alerts in Indeed and LinkedIn. I set up a few elsewhere but those were spammy crap, and the quality of leads were F, whereas what I got from LinkedIn were A and Indeed were B-.
There’s been plenty of talk about job postings, even on this blog. I’m a believer that if you apply online all day (like I did 12 years ago) you are spinning your wheels and wasting your time. But, I’ve also stated plenty of times (and did a course or two on this) that job postings are a great way to learn about the needs and strategic direction of a company. Job boards could be a super place to do company and industry research. And while a good deal of postings are already filled by the hiring manager’s friend or an internal worker, that’s not always the case.
Some job experts say to look for opportunities as opposed to jobs. This is not how I approached my “how I found a job” journey. The idea is if you see a lot of openings in Marketing at your target company, you can start to piece together information you gather and learn there is OPPORTUNITY in marketing, even if a particular job isn’t posted (maybe it will be soon hasn’t been yet).
My first task, though, was to get really honest with myself and define my niche role. I can do a lot of things (for 12 years I’ve worn many hats, and for the few years before that I was General Manager (doing a lot of things) and before that IT Manager (doing a lot of things with technology, including development and running a dev team).
I found 12 years ago that being too general and open was too confusing for hiring managers and recruiters. If they were looking for a widget spinner they didn’t want to see a resume that said “I do widget spinning and knife making and pie eating and water surfing and finger painting and… ” They were most interested in the resume that said “I am a master widget spinner, here are all the widget spinning experiences I’ve had…”
THAT IS REALLY HARD TO DO!
You look at your master widget spinner resume and think “but if they only knew, I have so much more to offer! I want to tell them about this and that and the other, and then they’ll see how valuable I can be to their organization!!”
There is definitely a time to share that information, but I think when you want to get your dream job you figure out how you are a perfect hand-in-glove fit for that dream job, and focus on that.
I know, just reading this, it seems obvious, but you have to do your own soul searching and ego checking, and that can be an enormous job. But it’s the right job for this point in the journey. Get help… I had to. It was a critical part of how I found a job. I had to have someone I trusted, and someone in the know (a recruiter!) help me, the job search guy who had been doing this for more than a decade, get clarity about myself and my own direction. Don’t do this alone.