I’ve sat down to write this blog several times but each time abandoned the attempt because the words I created felt unsatisfactory.
As you all know 3 weeks ago I started my dream job. After nearly 10 years of accounting I am now in marketing, which may seem like a nominal change but to me it is huge. It’s creative, interactive and something I am actually pretty confident in (I was competent in accounting but was always a little out of my league).
A few weeks ago I asked my facebook group (which if you aren’t a member of please like my page. It would really help me out https://www.facebook.com/smilingldsgirlreviews) what they would like me to blog about. One of my favorite followers asked me if I had any advice on how she could get her dream job and what I did in my interview/resume process that helped.
This seems like it should be a pretty easy question to answer. After all, it just happened so why not just say what happened. Here’s the rub about that, was it just luck and timing and if so how can I give advice on that?
Well, here’s my attempt at requested advice:
1. Timing and Paying Dues-
Perhaps this is a cop out to have as advice but in setting any worthy goal we must also be aware of God’s timing. Think about relationships. I can do everything right to meet someone and if it is not God’s time for me to have that experience it won’t happen.
The same holds true for your dream job. You can have the perfect interview and resume and if it is not the right timing it won’t work out. I know because I tried to get into marketing in 2008 and got nowhere. I ended up back in accounting until the time was right.
I also believe that in life rarely is anything handed to you on a silver platter. When we want something good typically God requires something of us in return. I call that paying dues.
For example, on my mission I went through a period of about 3 months that were hell. A companion who hated me and made my life miserable, new area, no contacts, extreme loneliness. It was intensely awful. One of the hardest experiences of my life.
However, I pushed through and after that time period I had the best companionships of my mission and helped 7 amazing people get baptized. I don’t think God would have blessed me with those experiences if I had not paid the dues in the tough months.
It’s the same in the work world or in our families. Some blessings come with a cost we must pay, with dues that must be met. So, if things don’t go your way put your head down and keep trying and working as hard as you can where you are and when it’s right it will happen. Took me nearly 10 years!
2. Take Risks-
I am not a high risk person. Just ask my investment broker, I get very nervous with the unknown (hence my anxiety issues…) and want to keep my money as safe as possible.
That said- any good thing in life will require some risk. If you decide to have kids, risk. If you decide to buy a home, risk. If you decide to change your job, risk. There was and is a lot of risk with this new job for me. There was risk in spending money on boxes and my channel. There was risk in devoting time and effort into making them as good as they could be. There was risk in putting myself out there for the world to see, being vulnerable and authentic.
Here’s the key to taking those risks- they were all risks I could stomach even if I hadn’t gotten the job. The fact I did makes the pay day extra sweet but any risk I’ve taken has been a great blessing in my life. I’ve been so grateful for this blog for 6 years , long before I thought it might lead to a new career. So, take risks, manageable risks, but take them!
It was also a risk to take the job. I was making a little more in my old job and it meant juggling 2 jobs instead of 1 and giving up my health insurance. It has all worked out but it was a risk- one I was glad to take. They could have told me it was an unpaid internship for the first 6 months and I would have taken it. I was looking for that door in and I took it!
Some people might have found it difficult going from a job where I was pretty important to a part time, contractor position, starting from scratch in new company. In truth, it can be kind of overwhelming but also exciting. I feel young with a new enthusiasm I haven’t felt for years. I am happy to be at the bottom clawing my way up but for some that would be risky prospect.
3. Resumes and Content Creation
Even for someone as open as myself, the self-promotion aspect of a job interview can be daunting. How do you make yourself unique and different but not too unique and different that it is off-putting.
I find if I can change it from self-promotion to simply ‘talking about my life’ it feels more natural and easy going. Even though I stayed in accounting for nearly 10 years I worked for different companies during that time (6 if you include my Dad’s rentals). So, I found myself looking at my resume every 6 months or so, sometimes more. Keeping it up to date and had correct reference phone numbers and that the information was still relevant.
I also started an online resume at http://about.me/smilingldsgirl which is free and looks very snazzy. Make sure on your resume you have listed your skills for the job you currently have and the job you want to have. And if you need those skills get them. Take courses, learn on your own time and then add that knowledge to your resume.
This job opportunity came out of nowhere so it was very helpful I had my resume ready to go. I had also given some thought into what content I was the most proud of. Even with open book living I have never produced content I was ashamed of. Every last post I stand behind and that includes twitter and youtube and everything else.
When given the chance I knew what posts were my best and emailed them to my future boss. I had one post I loved for it’s writing, another for the comments and discussion it encouraged, another for the hard worker it described. Have such content ready to go. Create a spreadsheet where you keep track of such things because after nearly 900 blog posts the good one’s can be tough to remember.
It is so easy nowdays to do so much on your own and I’d say why not? If you always wanted to get into movies than start a movie blog. It doesn’t have to be intense just every week or so write a post about movies you like. Keep it fun and control the tone of your comments section and content and do not do it to make money. Do it to become the person you want to be and the world may or may not pay you for that conversion but does that really matter? If you are who you want to be and having fun that is reward enough.
President Uchtdorf, an apostle for my church, gave a fabulous talk about the miracle of creation and how when we create things it is good for the soul. I believe that. I have felt that with every post I have done, even the silly one’s. I have created something out of nothing and that is empowering. So create!
There may have been an era where people opened the classifieds and contacted companies now hiring and got a job but that is few and far between. Even with the advent of internet job search engines like Monster, very few people get jobs based on ‘published ads’.
I found this NPR piece on networking to be helpful http://www.npr.org/2011/02/08/133474431/a-successful-job-search-its-all-about-networking
“At least 70 percent, if not 80 percent, of jobs are not published,” he says. “And yet most people — they are spending 70 or 80 percent of their time surfing the net versus getting out there, talking to employers, taking some chances [and] realizing that the vast majority of hiring is friends and acquaintances hiring other trusted friends and acquaintances.”
I think that is really true. Almost everyone I know has their job through networking not web searches or now hiring signs. And most of the people I know who get published jobs are not in the greatest jobs. It is perhaps easier to get a job at McDonalds without networking than say Goldman Sachs.
So how do you network? After all , you don’t want your friends to feel like you are using them for their connections. It needn’t be so obvious. Just talk with people about what you would like to do. My Dad was well aware of both my skills and work desires and a lot of people were because I talked about it on my blog, social media and in everyday conversation.
Once you are actively searching for a job just ask friends to keep their ears open for opportunities that might be a good fit. My Dad wasn’t planning on finding me an interview but was speaking with the head of the marketing department about needs and mentioned I could meet those needs. That’s the kind of networking that can even create a job out of a need, a job that may not even exist but you could fulfill.
It doesn’t even have to be a good friend. Let people at your church, civic group, book club, or kids playgroup know. They may know people, who know people, who need you.
5. The Interview
Let me start out this section by being very clear- I am not great at job interviews. My strabismus in my eyes can be a big part of the problem. If you have trouble with eye contact like I do that can make job interviews tough. I have also found some occasions where I felt my weight was a factor in not getting a job. They would never say it was but you can just tell when someone is judging you for appearance not abilities. This sucks but it is a reality.
I suppose if there is a way to improve that appearance than why not? You are presenting yourself in comparison to other people who probably have the same skill level as you do so an employer may be reduced to superficial gut feelings that may boil down to appearance. So, I’d say cover your tattoos, wear a nice suit, smile, treat the interview like a real person and talk as naturally as your nerves will allow.
In the case of this job I had a phone interview which was a great blessing as it took the personal elements out of the picture. I had sent him my resume and content links and he had spent considerable time reviewing them before the interview. I was ready to answer any questions he might have about what I had sent him.
I had also taken the job description and looked up any jargon words unique to the new job. I then prepared a ‘cheat sheet’ with those definitions and made sure I had something to say about said topics when asked. This proved to be the key reason I got the job. I had good concrete suggestions for our amazon and walmart listings- suggestions that I believe surprised the interviewer. You could also include on your cheat sheet information about the company, it’s history, leadership etc.
I also made it clear what the upsides were to picking me. That I work hard 24/7, have minimal obligations to distract me, could take little pay, didn’t need insurance, my working relationship with my Dad, and I’m a quick study when it comes to computer programs etc.
You may also have a chance to minimize the risks of selecting you. I told him my telecommuting would be an advantage not a downside because I was used to working all the time and creating content from home. I also made it clear I had much to learn but was confident I could do it.
Mostly I would say try to be a natural but professional version of yourself, and if it’s the right timing it will work out.
6. Be Patient
This is totally pot calling kettle black because I am completely impatient. I hate waiting but in this case I had to be patient. When my Dad initially told me about the position he said to wait for the job description before sending my resume (incidentally gave me some time to make it great).
I waited and waited for weeks and then the job description got posted. I was nervous because in some ways I was a great, perfect fit, and in others I was not. Again, I was prepared to overcome these issues and promote the benefits of me but I had to wait. Then finally I heard we were going to do the interview but it was delayed and delayed again. This whole time I couldn’t really talk about it with my online community because it was a digital media job so I wanted to lay low plus I didn’t want to ostracize myself from my job at Poler.
The interview came. I was prepared, notes in hand, we spoke for 1.5 hours and I thought things had gone well but you never know who else is interviewing. Than he asked me to do some ‘homework’ and I was patient and took the time I needed to make it good work. I felt particularly strong about my input concerning youtube…
But I didn’t hear anything and week 1 passed, than week 2 I was busy with my writing conference. No news was making me crazy and I couldn’t really talk about it much and there was nothing I could do but wait. I assumed at that point I didn’t get the job but I figured he would tell me if that was the case. So I waited and finally at the end of week 4 I got the job. He asked me if I needed to wait the weekend and think it through. “Nope” I said “I’m in!” I had already done all the thinking I needed! 🙂
And I wasn’t shy about expressing my eagerness and excitement. I don’t think there is anything wrong with such enthusiasm. If I was doing the hiring I’d want someone that was passionate about working for me.
7. You are More than Your Job
My last piece of advice is the greatest thing I learned from nearly 10 years of contently working in accounting. I felt like a sell-out. I felt like I had compromised my dreams to the cruel reality of what people would pay for me to do….
But that was a good thing in a way. It taught me that I am not my job. As a single woman I have always felt my career mattered more than my married counterparts (men and women). Aside from hobbies it seems the main contribution of a single American is their work. In fact, I was envious of my teacher and nurse friends because their contributions seemed more valuable than my career of spreadsheets and data entry and perhaps they are.
However, even my teacher friends would not want to be solely defined by their job. Our work is our work but it is not who we are. All of us have relationships, friendships, hobbies, family, church, clubs etc that define us just as much if not more so than our jobs.
My job in accounting may not have been my dream job but I was always grateful for it. I learned so much from doing something a little outside my comfort zone. It forced me to master skills I would never have learned otherwise. It gave me great relationships and life altering moments that I will never forget. So, if all you can get is a job at McDonalds then learn all you can from that job. And always have an attitude of ‘why does God need me here now?’
Be as interesting and dynamic a person as you can be. Try new things, have fun and maybe an opportunity will come out of the blue like it did for me. If it does I hope my little post will be of some help to you. My blogging may be small potatoes in the blog world but it is my greatest job and it has meant so much to me. I am a better person because of all of you and the words we’ve shared.
Good luck! And if you would like further advice comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.