Half the time, I have no idea what Penelope Trunk is talking about, and I often find myself asking “Did she really just write that?”
But there are other times, when I think she has some great, applicable advice. For example, I really enjoyed her recent bNET article, “Why Hunting For a Great Job Will Hurt Your Career.”
At first it may seem like it contradicts my notion that you’re approaching your job search all wrong, but that’s not the case. I agree with most of what Penelope discussed in the article; I just think it needs to come after you’ve determined what your dream job is, and how to get there. It’s usually a long road, that involves trading up, and Penelope’s advice is great for that in between stage.
“People who add structure to their day are more likely to get other stuff done.”
In my experience this is a 100% true. In undergrad, when I had to wedge homework and a social life around taking classes and playing baseball I was forced to maximize my use of time. When I had 30 minutes after lunch and before practice I knocked out some homework.
Once I got to graduate school and I was pretty much done for the day by 2:30, I wasted a lot of time because there was always “plenty of time to do X.” When you’re unemployed it’s easy to tell yourself, “I have literally all day to send these applications, I think I’ll play a little XBox first.” The next thing you know it’s dinner time and you haven’t started anything worthwhile.
“Often, people think they need an open day to job hunt. That doesn’t make sense. Job-hunting does not take all day. You could think of job-hunting as something we do nonstop – which means you can do it when you have a job. You can also think of job-hunting as doing the difficult work of connecting with people and looking for an opening in your network, and that’s certainly not something you can do all day.“
Until I found my dream job, I was always in a perpetual state of job hunting. When I determined I was disatisfied with the projection of my career and where I was at I started putting feelers out. If you’re already employed somewhere and have some incoming cash flow you have a lot more flexibility to search for that perfect fit. You probably won’t find it right away, but you might build new relationships, get side consulting gigs, learn about openings for your unemployed friends, and much more.
“If you tell yourself the world is at your fingertips and you must get a good job, you end up not taking anything.”
It’s essential to know where you want to end up, but you can strategically trade up to get there. You have to start somewhere so stop being entitled and put in the hard work first. If you can prove yourself in a situation/position that is less advantageous, the more prolific opportunities will come knocking on your door.
“We usually have no idea, for instance, about the things that really make or break a job – like if you will get good training on the job, or if the job description will even turn out to be true.“
You can do all the homework in the world (and most people don’t do nearly enough because they’re so excited to have an opportunity), but you’ll never know your bosses’ demeanor not in an interview (though you should trust your instinct as I ignored mine twice). You’ll never know the dynamics of the team, how the job will shift, if there will be good mentors, etc.
There’s ways to strategically make everything work for you if you like what you’re doing (and we’ll talk about some of those eventually), but sometimes you just have to take a chance, based on your instinct, and hope you get lucky.
“Most importantly, a lot of people get paralyzed while they are unemployed because they feel like they are not living up to their potential.“
I think it’s impossible to not feel this way at some point when you’re unemployed. Even the most talented applicants ask themselves, “Why didn’t they pick me, am I not good enough?” This is 100% natural, but the key is to focus on where you want to be and what makes you happy, not on living up to expectations, worrying about what friends/family think, questioning your worth, etc. It’s easier said than done, but all that other is inconsequential.
In another recent post about love at first sight, Penelope encourages women not to interview during ovulation. Thankfully, I got to this awesome point before I reached that little tidbit:
“When people are interviewing each other face to face, it’s clear that all the candidates are qualified—everyone has been screened to know that the potential employees are skilled enough, the potential company is interesting enough, the job is a decent enough fit. So that leaves chemistry as the important thing in an interview.“
I’ll preface by saying this isn’t always the case, but if the company knows what they’re doing, it should be. Chemisty is so important. I’d argue that it’s often more important than your skillset. If someone wants to work with you they can teach you what you need to do, but they probably can’t change your personality to fit their company culture and/or team.
Be yourself, enjoy the experience, and remember that a sense of humor goes a long way. If you don’t have solid chemistry in the interview, trust that you wouldn’t in the workplace, and that it wasn’t meant to be anyway.