In my August issue of Career Tips, I wrote about the benefits of volunteering to make yourself more marketable, and some potential traps to avoid. (If you would like a copy, just drop me a note at John@JHACareers.com)
Another form of ‘volunteering’ is the unpaid internship or ’sample’ consulting project. Basically, you are giving a prospective employer something for free to demonstrate the value you can add. Be sure to make this a quid pro quo - where you are getting something substantive in return. Your received value could be a reference / recommendation, the chance to build up your skills and accomplishments in a new venue, or even just a commitment to consider you for a future paid opportunity.
I’d suggest making the value you are going to receive explicit.
For example, if it’s the ‘consider for the future’ option, then get agreement in advace to a point in time when that consideration will take place. This could be a time line, like 2 months after you start, or when a deliverable takes place, such as when you complete the project. By making this tradeoff explicit in advance, you present yourself as a more confident professional, and someone with negotiation skills. You also avoid the awkwardness of wondering when to ask, having the project just continue dragging on, etc.
Another technique is to simply ask a lot of questions and offer concrete suggestions, demonstrating your insight and the value you can add. This can get people in a frame of mind where they are interested in helping you, or in getting more of your insight for themselves. One great example was just sent me by someone who had been struggling with her search for some time:
“Here’s how I landed my job: I was reading the classifieds, and noticed an attorney’s ad which had incorrectly stated an area of law. I thought to myself, “does she know her ad is incorrect or does she not know what she’s doing relative to this area of law”. I decided to call, introduce myself and ask her about the ad.
She thanked me for bringing it to her attention, and asked me to tell her more about myself. She asked my availability to come in for an interview, and fewer than 72 hours later we met, and I’ve been there since that day!!”
“I’ve sent out what feels like hundreds of résumés with no calls. I know I’m qualified for all the jobs, but can’t understand why I’m not getting a buzz.”
This is an all-too-common complaint. If you aren’t getting responses from your résumé, either it is serving poorly as your sales brochure, or you are sending it out to the wrong openings. Ponder these questions:
Another way to help get to the bottom of this is to find someone you trust in HR (the higher the level the better) or recruiting, or even a career coach, and sit down 1-on-1 with them. Explain exactly what the job is that you are seeking, and ask whether they would get excited about your candidacy based on your résumé.
What are your thoughts?
When was the last time you sat back and gave serious thought to what you want to achieve in life, and how what you do at work is aligned with that?
Are you doing what you really want to do? Do you still think of your job as a career, or has it become simply a source of a paycheck? Do you get up in the morning excited to go to work? Do you take pride in what you’ve accomplished at the end of the day?
If the answer to these questions is no, it’s time to re-examine your priorities.
Think of what it’s costing you each day to come to a job you aren’t really that interested in anymore, to periodically glance at the clock in the afternoon, wishing you could get home to what’s truly important in your life! And what does that cost you at home—spending eight or more hours a day doing something that leaves you drained instead of energized?
For the rest of the article, visit this link:
Also think about impact it has on your family to watch you working away at a job about which you lack passion. If you have children, what are you modeling for them about the working world? You’d better believe they are going to notice your attitudes towards your job and work in general, and that will have a lastimg impression on them and their own behaviors. For more on this, read this article:
I’d love to hear your reactions to these…drop me a note at Advice@JHACareers.com.