ed muses upon

2010/11/09

Staying Focused: Moonlighting & Your Job Search

Some years ago, due to films like Grosse Pointe Blank and Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion, eighties music was enjoying a resurgence in popularity. My wife and I were leaving a music store and as we were leaving, two teens walked into the store in mid-conversation. Just before the doors closed behind them, we couldn’t help overhearing one exclaim to the other, “Cuz 80s music is, like, the best music evar!!!”

As a child of the 80s, my preferences in music sometimes revert to the music of my high school experiences. As the foregoing illustrates, some of it remains very catchy. But it’s hard to discuss one’s high school experiences without addressing the subject of what was on TV at the time.

One very popular show of the time was Moonlighting. The Cybill Shepherd/Bruce Willis vehicle that vaulted the latter into stardom was a favorite of mine. The show featured some of the snappiest dialogue on television when it premiered in 1985. Something I always appreciated as a writer was the quotable lines the cast delivered with impeccable timing. One quote that has stuck with me ever since was delivered by Bruce Willis: “Everyone’s perfect at something”.

Things have their intrinsic meanings and then the adding meanings brought by circumstances and whim. That’s the case here, too.

Everyone’s perfect at something.” In your professional experience, I am willing to wager that was true of almost everyone you encountered. If I ask you who has the best PowerPoint skills, you probably can think of a name immediately. Who was it that could consistently un-jam the photocopier? When you couldn’t get Excel to do what you needed, wasn’t there someone you always turned to?

I’m assuming that the answers to those three questions are all different. So let me turn this around: if I asked all of those people what you were perfect at, what would they say?

Several groups, including the ETP Network, are big proponents of identifying a job seeker’s “unique value proposition”: the unique blend of skills, experience and aptitude that a candidate offers. And yes, it is unique: no one else has the same exact skills, experience and aptitudes you possess, in the same measures.

That is what you’re perfect at.

Once you have identified what you’re perfect at, it’s a matter of helping the recruiters and hiring managers who need you to find you. Everyone talks about networking as the biggest source of jobs (per the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70%). It is in this way that you are able to demonstrate why you are a great fit for the demands of an opportunity.

At the end of the day, a quote from Moonlighting might just help you stay focused on the big picture: landing your next opportunity.

2010/11/03

Staying Focused: Fortune Favors the Bold Job Seeker

In his work Phormio, Roman playwright Terence introduced the expression fortes fortuna adiuvat. The motto of several military units in the US and British armed forces, this phrase is most commonly translated as “fortune favors the bold”. Although Phormio dates back to the second century BCE, the observation remains just as apt today, over two millennia later. Even today we often say “nothing ventured, nothing gained”, which is a re-formulation of the same sentiment: bold action is rewarded.

Looking across classic mythology, we see this sentiment echoed—from an infant Zeus leading his siblings in revolt successfully against their father Kronos all the way to the success of the Trojan Horse, brainchild of Odysseus. Through centuries of mythmaking, the ancient Greeks affirmed their admiration for boldness and ingenuity time and again.

And we are not much different from the ancient Greeks: this same admiration continues unabated in the modern day. In the past several years, popular entertainment is littered with tales of clever, admirable scoundrels as heroes, from the Ocean’s films starring George Clooney and Brad Pitt to the TV show Leverage. While the popularity of the grifter in entertainment is in part a function of broader societal disillusionment, the criminal has always had appeal. How else could one explain five separate big screen films about Robin Hood or the enduring popularity of Bonnie & Clyde?

But this isn’t an exploration of the cultural subconscious. This is about how to draw lessons from the cultural subconscious that will help ramp-up your job search. These are the four lessons that each job seeker should take:

Build Interest

Publicize your résumé bullet points. Your accomplishments are impressive: others deserve to know about them! Talk about one when you deliver your elevator speech—and if you attend a regular job search or networking group, highlight a different one each time. Your professional value is far more than just one achievement.

Own Your Mindset

The abbreviation GIGO—Garbage In, Garbage Out—applies here. What kind of content you take in is reflected in your mentality. If you are relentlessly reading about the poor state of the economy or the latest share price tumble, it becomes much harder to maintain the positive, confident mentality hiring managers want to see. Consider calling a friend or job search buddy for a dose of good news to get in the right frame of mind. One way to do this…

Live Your Accomplishments

Take a few minutes to review your résumé. Look at your best accomplishment bullet points. Remember how achieving them made you feel. Your résumé is a celebration of the great things of which you are capable.

Deliver

In your job search, you have to deliver for hiring organizations, whether corporate or non-profit. You don’t need me or anyone else to tell you that. But—with apologies to Simon & Garfunkel—since no one is a rock or an island, you’ve met friends and connections who have helped to progress your job search, either with a shared connection, or maybe a tip, or sometimes the right word at the right time. Maybe you’ve even been able to help a few. Well, consider delivering for a few of them, too.

Because at the end of the day, being BOLD will help you stay focused on the big picture: landing your next opportunity.

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