Keep all options open and cast a broad net. You may think you know what you want. In fact, I started this book telling you to make sure you know what you want. I wasn’t lying, but I’m also realistic enough to know that that isn’t always easy. It’s acceptable to keep a somewhat narrow focus based on what you want or need, while at the same time keeping an open mind. In some cases, options may be restricted based on your established limitations, such as location. As you pursue these wide-open options, keep a narrow focus so that you’re not drifting aimlessly, as that wastes time. For example, I had some conversations with companies in Boston, which is almost four hours away from my home. A commute would not be feasible for me, but I kept the conversation going until the companies said that there was no option to work remotely (work from home). Continuing down that path would have wasted precious time and energy. However, it was only after I confirmed the company’s corporate policy that I gave up on that possibility. I include this example because I heard about another company that didn’t allow people to work remotely. After doing some digging, I found that wasn’t true. The ability to trust but verify, is an important tool in your arsenal. There is a difference between working desperately and working smart.
In casting your broad net, it’s very important to market yourself to align with the specific job you are applying for based on the job description, the information provided on the application/job posting, and the details obtained from your due diligence. For example, as a speaker, trainer, author, coach, and banker, it became too difficult for prospective employers reading my information to decipher what role I really wanted when I applied to a new company. Although my answer was, “just about anything,” that did come across as a bit desperate. I didn’t feel desperate at all, but on paper it looked that way. I have always been able to find a way to enjoy my job and maintain a positive attitude, regardless of what I was doing. Over the years, I have learned the importance of being accountable to change what I don’t like in my life or my work. But, how would anyone be able to get all that from my résumé? In some cases, even talking through it, I would laugh at how ridiculous it sounded without context. I might as well have just said, “I’m a people-person,” and left it at that.
To avoid that kind of confusion, I had to align what I wanted with what I was going after. For example, I had recent experience overseeing banking risk. I know that the business of risk in banking is very important after the economic downturn in 2008 (or even earlier in some cases). My success in this type of role depends on my ability to be strong enough to come in with an objective point of view to push back, persuade business partners, and communicate effectively to identify and mitigate concerns. I made some changes to include more risk-based language on my marketing plan and résumé. I also built up the ways in which my side interests in speaking and training strengthened my ability to influence others when I had no direct power, while simultaneously refining my written and oral communication skills.
Although I had specific risk responsibilities with my former employer, I did cast the broader net to include operational risk, business controls, and even audit and compliance when applying for new jobs. My immediate goal was to get my foot in the door with prospective employers so that I could demonstrate how my diverse background would enable me to have an impact in the future of their company. I was able to do that enough to determine that the business of banking risk went beyond simply identifying issues, and was more about building strong relationships. Even though I had known that from past experience, I’m not sure how quickly I would have used it in networking sessions and interviews if I hadn’t been dabbling in the other areas that weren’t part of my direct expertise.
Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):
- The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood
- Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
- Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
- The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
- From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
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