So Much Career Advice- Who Should You Trust? YOU…

Tim Murphy wrote a great post this morning on Brazen Careerist about how there is no “silver bullet” or secret weapon in job searching that allows one to tap into insta-success.

There’s such a plethora of career advice out there targeting the uninformed or simply frustrated job seeker and career changer, that it’s hard to know what to follow and whom to trust. My thoughts on that? Follow whomever you deem interesting and credible, and trust no one because every career “expert” out there comes from their own school of thought and experiences in terms of determining what the best methods are.

Now that is not to say any of them are wrong – in fact, I would say many of them offer incredibly valuable and sound advice. The important thing isn’t to try to sift through the articles, blogs and LinkedIN discussions and determine who’s right, who’s wrong, and who’s full of crap, but to find the key take-aways and identify opportunities to integrate those ideas into your own strategy to make it work for you.

There is no silver bullet, no secret, no tried and true roadmap experience to landing the perfect (or the next) job. If there were, my webinar would have been entitled “6 Secrets to Getting Called Back, & Getting Hired” instead of “6 Steps…”. Because that is what makes a successful career move, understanding your motivations for change, creating a smart strategy chock full of the right resources, and then taking the right steps to make it happen. So what does all that look like?

As someone who’s changed careers 4 times before the age of 30, and before settling upon what I feel [right now] is what I’m meant to do, I have come to learn something about the nature of career transition. It’s not necessarily about being lost around what you’re meant to do professionally, but rather about understanding that with each new job you take on, you recognize new skills and experiences that you’ve built upon that can potentially open new doors. Even the most passionate professional who loves what they do and swears they’ve found their calling would probably agree that who we are professionally is ever-evolving, and no doubt we will continue to learn things about ourselves and our capabilities that may open our eyes to new paths/careers/ideas/revenue streams. Don’t be afraid to look at those experiences and skills objectively and see what might be possible if you make a change. Hating your boss might be a valid reason to change jobs, but not necessarily for changing careers. Wanting a job that energizes you by capitalizing on what you do best, could go both ways. What’s your true motivation for making a change?

You have 20 bookmarked websites on how to write an effective resume (including mine). Are you a CEO, a sales executive or an Art Director? When you’re lapping up all the job search advice, it’s important to consider who is a subject matter expert in your field, and as a result caters their advice and resources to the specific needs, challenges and opportunities of your field. While I can probably advise on and construct an effective resume to suit any career field or level of experience, my core competency is understanding the marketability, branding and career challenges of professionals in the creative industry- advertising, marketing, design and media. I have plenty of clients that have come to me from areas like social work, psychology, sales, academia, film, the arts, real estate and a slew of others, and I have enjoyed working with every one of them. But I have even more to offer those job seekers and career transitioners who fall into my niche, based upon my hiring experience and knowledge of their industry.

Every career professional out there understands the idea of “reinventing yourself professionally” it seems, and maybe they do. But they don’t necessarily have any clue about the field you’re interested in transitioning into, and that’s where it becomes important in partnering with someone who knows they’re client. Because I’ve been to coaching school, and while they do teach you to really listen well and home in on the challenges and opportunities in what your client is telling you, they don’t teach you how to identify what makes a really great Creative Director, or a stellar Copywriter, or what’s going to make HR salivate and dry heave over a truly phenomenal Project Manager resume.

Haha… the visual of that last one makes me laugh.

Same goes for working with recruiters. If you’re in the creative industry, you’re not going to have much success working with a generalized recruiter who places everything from light industrial to high-level administrative roles. Nor will you have much luck scouring generalized job boards that cater to everyone, instead of your niche. Where you expend your time and energy in terms of the resources you’re utilizing, is going to be a critical make-or-break part of your strategy. If you’re highly specialized and you know that your opportunities aren’t abundant on the job boards, spend more of your time networking with strategic contacts, or maybe increasing your visibility as a subject matter expert in your field by blogging, tweeting, starting discussions and commenting on other people’s blogs. Take someone out to lunch (never underestimate the power of a good Chinese buffet), or better yet – put together a totally kick-a$$ self-promotional package that creative and strategically shows off your brand!

There’s a reason people hire career coaches and the like, and it’s because job searching and changing careers is a process of transition, and it’s very easy to get lost, demotivated or simply frustrated and stagnant in the process. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it on your own free will and chutzpa. But it’s important that you enter into the process with the right expectations, and that you create a solid network of supporters to help you along the way. That might include a career consultant or coach, a recruiter, several good butt-kicking friends, your spouse or significant other, and a couple colleagues and past supervisors who are open to feeding you viable leads and providing positive recommendations and references. All in all, taking the right steps toward effective change includes:

  • Understanding your motivators for change
  • Understanding what the next step is that you’re targeting, and creating a vision around it (who, what, where, why & when)
  • Creating a diversified strategy that utilizes the right resources (how)
  • Embracing your support network for motivation, accouability and idea sharing
  • Having full faith and confidence in yourself, and your ability to navigate potentially rough waters
  • Enjoying the process of making it happen, and not only living in the future of “I’ll be happy when…”

It’s about what works for you, and everyone’s path and strategy and method of execution will be completely different. So don’t necessarily look to the “experts” for all the answers. Their job is to give you some really great jumping off points, and then it’s what you do with that information and how you apply it to your situation that will make all the difference.

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