A lot of my friends are peeking out from under the gloom of the recession to see what opportunities lie in wait. Now two to three years out of business school, we’re starting to think seriously about a move that aligns our hearts and our minds, and we care deeply about impacting the world in a significant way. The heart-led job search can be tricky terrain. It’s not as easy as hopping on Monster.com and blanketing the field with our resumes. This one requires more finesse, creativity, and patience.
In today’s post, I thought it might be helpful to list a few methods I’ve used over the last three years that have led me to interesting new ground. If you’re in the market, I hope these ideas get you going, too.
1.) Be authentic about your interests. Someone somewhere in the world needs the gifts you have to offer. I stopped trying to get organizations to like me and just focused on talking about the ideas that I’m passionate about. I want to take my experience into the public education field, a field I love to research. I’m constantly reading about it, and trying to connect to others with the same interest. I focus on learning and sharing as much as I can. Talking about that passion is helping me to find my pack. And in the heart-led job search, your pack is king.
2.) Don’t network when you need a job – network all the time. In many ways, having a job where we’re comfortable can make us a little lazy. We stop going to events. We stop looking for new connections and neglect the ones we have. Then all of a sudden we need something, and we wonder why people won’t put themselves out there for us. Keep the mindset of constant connection, to new contacts and treasured ones, and you’ll find opportunities present themselves to you as often as you look around for them.
3.) Free can lead to fee. Especially in the recession, organizations are looking for more help. Because I’m interested in the social venture / nonprofit fields, this is a bit of an easier sell for me. I’ve done pro-bono marketing and communications work with Junior Achievement, American Red Cross, and Save the Children. I’ve not been paid for this work yet, but down the line I know these relationships will be very valuable, and I’ve gotten incredible experience with organizations who mean a lot to me. Win-win. Check to see if your company has any of these projects you could join (or lead!) and if not, reach out directly to organizations that interest you and offer a few hours of free consulting.
4.) Volunteer. Again, easier for me to make this case because of the work I’m interested in, but I have a lot of friends who’ve made valuable contacts while doing something good for their communities. Alumni clubs are a great starting resource. Also, check out programs like iMentor that place an emphasis on bringing their volunteers together in social settings to meet and get to know one another.
5.) Social media is more than a means to keep up with your friends. I write on this blog every day because I love it, and believe me it is a lot of work. I’m not suggesting that everyone have a blog, and there are ways for everyone to be involved in some aspect of social media no matter how much time they have (or don’t have.) I also tweet, use FB for my work, tap into some location-based services like Foursquare, actively use LinkedIn. My inbox collects about 30 e-newsletters per day that I scan for interesting stories and companies. Every cool opportunity I’ve found since business school somehow has a social media link. It’s that important – so get out there in some virtual way and connect to people who interest you.
6.) Write letters and emails to people whose work you admire. When you read about an organization that interests you, write to them and express your interest. I do this all the time and I’m always pleasantly surprised how much people like to talk about themselves and their work to someone who shares their interests. Learn from them.
7.) Make your current work as meaningful as possible. I work on new technology projects, particularly related to mobile technology, in my day job. I know technology is critical to public education moving forward, so while I currently work outside of public education, I know the experience I’m getting will be very valuable. Looking forward to the future is important, but don’t let current opportunities go to waste. You them wisely.
I’d love to hear what’s worked for you in your job searches!