Part 14 - The Final in This Incarnation

posted Dec 23, 2011, 8:57 AM by Terrence Moss   [ updated Dec 23, 2011, 9:03 AM ]

I receive regular emails from Vault, Talent Zoo, Monster and Career Builder about writing resumes, interviewing and getting that job. Most of the time I skim through those emails and dismiss most of the advice they dole out -- not because I know more than they do or that what they have to say doesn't have any merit – but because I’m just not interested in doing what they advise.

I’ve tried most of their approaches and they don’t work for me. So I come across disingenuous. Some people may be able to sell it, but I can’t. And now that I’m 32, I don’t want to have to. Unless their way actually guarantees me a job, which it never has, then the entire process is basically a crapshoot anyway.

For one thing, I hate the term “sell yourself”. What is there to sell? You either like my resume or you don’t. You’re either impressed by my background or you’re not. Admittedly, there’s nothing in my professional background from the last five years that’s particularly impressive anyway. I never landed a major account. I didn’t grow a small piece of business into a larger one (for many reasons having little or nothing to do with me or my abilities).

The best thing I did do in the last five years was to NOT lose any established piece of business. Can I sell THAT?

This “sell yourself” bullshit is especially encouraged in this current job market where employers have the upper hand as there are more applicants than openings in most industries. Consequently, the entire interview process has become so lengthy, unpredictable and improbable -- even for the lowest of positions – that companies are losing out on really good talent who either find comparable work elsewhere or just take anything in order to bring some money into the household.

One such email from the job search site featured an article which caught my attention in a way that didn’t elicit a skeptical eye-roll. It was titled “Stop Looking for a Job, Start Looking for an Opportunity” and was authored by Darren Hardy.

According to the article, we are in the greatest times of opportunity in human history -- if we know how to seize them. Hardy goes on to provide seven strategies on how to seize those opportunities:

1.      Adapt to the new reality.

2.      Stop looking for a job and start looking for an opportunity.

3.      What do you have?

4.      Who do you know?

5.      What problem can you solve?

6.      Return to self-reliance and self-responsibility.

7.      Take control of your future!

These strategies reminded me of a Time article from 2009 titled “The Future of Work” with lessons on how to succeed in the new American workplace -- one without briefcases, offices, benefits, old-school bosses, corporate ladders or retirement – by figuring out a new path into a world of opportunity.

The article was published a couple of weeks prior to my resigning from the ad agency I worked for in Massachusetts. I wanted to be a part of that new workplace. I figured it would serve me better and my ever-evolving mindset than the old one.

But because I needed the money, I wound up back in an old-school workplace that wanted to be more new-school as long as it could still practice old-school workplace tenets. When I was mercifully and gladly laid off in July, I remembered that issue of Time (which I still have) and decided that I was going to focus even more on my writing and find some way to eke out a living doing so.

When that Vault email hit my inbox in November, it just reinforced what I had been doing since July.

And now I’ve taken the next step.

Since the layoff, I’ve looked into a lot of writing opportunities – some of which were in line with my capabilities. A lot of them were not. For some people, it’s a foot in the door. For me, it’s another delay.

I know what kind of writer I am. I know what kind of writer I want to be. I know what I have to offer. I have a pretty good idea of where I can fit. I don’t know all the opportunities out there and I remain open to them. As long as I keep writing, I can stumble upon that elusive perfect job. Better yet, that elusive perfect job could stumble upon me.

The message that I received from both the Vault and the Time articles is that the current job market is forcing many of us to chart our own paths and create our own opportunities in a world where many are being taken away.

It is for this reason that I am doing what I will announce on Monday.