Let’s face it. Job hunting is overwhelming. With today’s avalanche of technology it can feel almost impossible to find the right role, much less stand out among a sea of other applicants. In an age where online job applications rarely, if ever, reach their target audience, you’ve got to learn how to network. It took me a period of changing jobs as often as some people change underwear to reach an awareness of what job was right for me. That was just the beginning, because then I had to hustle hard to get it.
I spent the better part of a year meeting people for coffee, taking classes to level up my skill set, joining job search websites, going on interviews, applying online and attending networking events. I had generated several offers but none of them had the combination of factors I knew I needed to thrive. Many times I considered settling just so I could have a paycheck. I cried. I swore. I exhausted myself mentally, physically and emotionally. I was utterly depleted. But, I held fast to my belief that I was worthy of my dream.
When I finally realized I was job hunting all wrong, I stopped wasting energy revising my rèsumè for the millionth time and customizing cover letters that would never see the light of an inbox. After all, I’m smart, I’m driven and I’m uniquely qualified. None of that was going to help me if I couldn’t make connections with the kind of people I wanted to work with and for. So, I reached out to the network that resonated the most with me, Women Who Startup. They are focused on empowering female entrepreneurs and innovators and create a network of support for those gutsy enough to chase their wildest dreams.
So, I jumped on Slack and posted a message into the three most relevant channels to ask publicly for help. I didn’t grovel. I didn’t complain. I simply asked politely for help meeting other women who had experience they were willing to share about making a similar transition. I had held back on doing this for months because I didn’t want to appear weak or desperate. I didn’t want to hurt my chances of finding my ideal gig because I thought people might judge me. The truth is, it was only my ego getting in the way. I had to remind myself that I could have a job immediately if I wanted, but getting the RIGHT job meant NOT settling.
Within an hour of posting my message, I had set 5 meetings. Within a week, I had multiple offers and had landed a dream job. One that checked every single box on my list.
Don’t spend a year wrestling with the process like I did.
Ultimately, what worked for me was implementing the combination of traits I had honed over the year. About those: I remained willing to receive guidance during my search, no matter the source of the guidance. I had to be courageous in the face of fear and let rejection flow off me like water from a duck’s back. I had to stay humble and keep my ego in check by not allowing myself to take dead ends personally. I maintained my curiosity about the infinite realm of possibility awaiting me. I used humor to keep my energy positive by doing things and thinking thoughts that lifted me up. I had to be tenacious by asking hard questions like, “What can I do better next time?” To ensure I managed my network, I put the time into organizingit by tracking my outreach and follow up efforts. Finally, and most importantly, I had to train myself to exist in a space of gratitude. Every outcome was a stepping stone that brought me closer to my goal. Challenges became opportunities and every person along the way was a champion for my success whether he or she realized it or not.
You don’t have to take drastic measures to strengthen your networking chops. BUT, you do need to scoot yourself out of that cozy little comfort zone you’ve been living in if you want to go after your big dream. Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. My personal definition of sanity is trying new things without expectations. Without fail, every time I’ve done that at home or at work, I’ve learned something new that I could use to make my life better. Today, when people ask me how I’m doing, I tell them I’m living the dream, because I finally am. #KeepClimbing
Saylor is the Marketing and Communications Manager for a global SaaS company in Denver, CO. She loves mentoring others on their career journeys, running her marketing consultancy, Anchor Element, as a side hustle and getting her fill of all the adventure this life has to offer.