You move somewhere new. You want a new job. You look at the online job listings. You network. You send emails. You ask your friends for assistance. But, in the end, nothing really happens. It’s not their fault, it’s not your fault, it’s just that sometimes this is how it goes.
So, what do you do?
You apply for a job that doesn’t exist.
TIP #1: Have no idea what you want to do.
These days, everyone has an answer for you when it comes to looking for a job. Your resume should look like this. In interviews you should say this, but you shouldn’t say this. It’s OK if you email this person, but you must never email this person. Wear this. Do this. Don’t do that. You did that? You’re doing it wrong. If you pay me $250 an hour, I will help you do it right. I’m a life coach. I give career advice. I’m a professional blogger. Do it my way or fail. If that doesn’t work? You’re not doing it right.
One basic tenet of finding a job is that you have to know what you want. Also, you have to do it right. And you have to follow the rules, or you are going to screw it all up. The problem is that the hiring business is a lot like the Hollywood movie business. If you live in Hollywood for long enough, and you spend enough time around the entertainment industry, you will discover that no one has any idea why one thing works and another doesn’t. That’s why people in Hollywood are so crazy. Because it’s all hit-or-miss. The hiring business is the same way. Sometimes people hire people because they like you, but if you are an engineer, they don’t care if they like you or not. The truth is that when it comes to hiring, nobody has any idea what they’re doing. It’s a crap shoot.
That’s why you shouldn’t know what you’re doing either. Maybe you don’t know exactly what job you want. Maybe you are not fully cognizant of all your skills, because you have employed some, but not others, and what you can do, really do, remains to be seen. This means that if you are looking for one job doing one certain thing, you are seeking your goal too narrowly.
For example: I am a creative. But I also do marketing. Some jobs require I be a creative and a marketer. What do I do best? Both. What kind of job best suits me? One where I’m only being creative. Actually, it’s one where I’m only doing marketing. Oh, wait, it’s one where I’m sometimes a creative and sometimes a marketer. You see, this is what I do for a living, and I don’t even know what I’m doing. Do you? You might think you know what you are doing, but you might be wrong. It’s better to not know.
This means that you are open to possibilities. If you are open, you can turn on a dime. With enough expertise and enough savvy, if someone says, we don’t have what you do, we only have this, you can say, well, wait, I can do that, too. These days, in this job market, you cannot be a square peg trying to fit yourself into a hole that may be a circle or a square. You need to be a peg made of Play-Doh.
For example, some of the work that I do is in social media. Some of the jobs that I apply for are in social media. One thing I keep forgetting and then remembering when someone new interviews me is that nobody in social media has any idea what they are doing. It’s too new. They might say they do, or they might say they don’t, but nobody really knows. We are all figuring it out as we go along. That’s why I pretend I’m Play-Doh. So they can push me into whatever shape they need. And then I’m that.
TIP #2: Target companies, not positions.
Does it matter if you got the job of your dreams if you hate the company you work for? Yes. That’s why it’s better to focus not on job positions, or even open job positions, but what company you would like to work for. One easy way to do that is to go to Glassdoor.com. Basically, Glassdoor has overviews of companies. The content is written by anonymous current or former employees of the company. It can tell you what the salary range is for various positions, what the interviewing process is like, and how working for the company really is. Because if you don’t know someone who works for the company, it’s hard to figure out if you would be happy in a company. Because that’s what really matters with a job, right? If you are happy or miserable. The guy who is thinking about hiring you isn’t going to tell you, “I hate my job.” He should. But he won’t. Then you might replace him. On Glassdoor, they will tell you. Sometimes online anonymity makes people act like jerks, but sometimes it empowers people to tell the truth.
After you figure out what company you want to work for, then figure out who can hire you to work in the area you want to work. Not the HR manager. The person who would be your boss. Between LinkedIn, company web sites, and your Googling skills, you should be able to figure this out. Now you need to email this person. Most email addresses follow a certain pattern. If you can find the person’s name, but you can’t find their email address, you can Google different possibilities of what their address may be until you find a match. Then email the person you want to work for. Some people will say, “Oh, can you do that?” That isn’t really a question. They’re saying, “You can’t do that.” Like you’d be better off sending your resume to some HR manager who probably will not read your cover letter and delete your resume because there’s a typo in it, or because they fed it into a computer and the computer didn’t like it because it didn’t have the right key words in it, or because they are having a bad day. Go right to the person you want to work for, and ask them in an email if they will meet with you. Because this is the company you want to work for, and this is the person you want to work for, and this is how you get a job. By being aggressive. Not being a lemming. Let the other people be lemmings. You are a unicorn. Lemming rules apply to lemmings. Unicorn rules apply to unicorns.
TIP #3: Stop doing interviews.
What is an interview? A weird sort of charade in which you sit on one side of a desk and the other person sits on the other side of the desk, and the person on the other side of the desk drones on at length about their company/line of work/openings, and you sit there and try and think up questions to ask when the person stops talking so they won’t think you’re an idiot. This is stupid. This is a waste of time. This way of interviewing should be abolished.
I could tell you, the interviewee, what to do, but, instead, I would rather tell the interviewer what to do. Because people are always telling the interviewees what to do, like they’re doing something wrong, and less often do people tell the interviewers what to do, because everyone just assumes they are doing everything right. (Which they are not. Not necessarily, anyway.)
Stop interviewing people in your offices. It’s weird, awkward, and stresses people out. Interview people in the lobby. In the park across the street. In the hall. In the elevator. In the coffee shop around the corner. Maybe your company has some sort of “policy” against this — I have no idea — but if it does: Is that who you are: Mr. Policy? Well, good luck to you then.
Ask interesting stuff in your interviews. If you think you are bored interviewing a lot of people, imagine how bored we are being interviewed by you, who are clearly bored. We are bored by your boredom. Ask us interesting questions. The other day, someone who was a potential employer asked me what would I do if I was driving in a car, and it was raining, and it was about to flood, and my car only fit two people, and one of them was me, and the other one was one of three people at a bus stop: an old woman, the love of your life, and someone who had saved your life. This falls into the category of weird interview questions, but at least it doesn’t fall in the category of totally boring interview questions. (Examples of totally boring interview questions: 1. What are you looking for in this position? 2. Tell me something about yourself. 3. Do you have any questions for me?)
Give us something to do. We have a lot of nervous energy coursing through our systems because we are out of work, or we really want this job, or whatever the reason. If all we do is talk, how will either of us learn anything about each other? One person I interviewed with met me in a conference room with comfortable seating and projected a giant web page on the wall. Then I critiqued some of his company’s content on their web site, pointing out why part of it was totally boring and why part of it was totally interesting. I can tell you I’m good until I’m blue in the face, but you will not believe me unless you give me the opportunity to demonstrate just how good I am.
Also, this is why I titled this post, “How to Get a Job That Doesn’t Exist”: This doesn’t have to be an interview at all. Maybe you found the company you want to work for, and you found the person you want to work for, and you got them to give you face time, and there you are, asking one another interesting questions, learning some things, and clicking in that way that means maybe this person will hire you. But, there is not a perfect position for you at this time. That means this isn’t an interview. It’s like a pre-interview. Or a meeting. Or a date, but with work as the goal, not sex. This is OK. This is good. Because someone at the company is going to bail, and this person will remember you. Or this person may have some part-time work for you, and if you do that, and do it well, maybe you can move from part-time to full-time, and then you will have the position you want at the company you want working with people you like because you took the time to apply for a job that didn’t exist. Because you never know.
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