This is part ten of my short book on how to get a job in communications. Previous posts can be found on the How to Get a Job page.
You’re never done
Know your plan at all times
Remember that one-year plan I told you to think about? Hopefully by now you’ve had some time to figure out what that might be. Even after you land what you think is your dream job, the big career-maker you’ve been hoping for, you need to know your plan for one year out. As soon as you get a job, take some time to figure out where you want to be in a year.
Obviously, that doesn’t mean you are planning to quit. All it means is that your job in a year will be in some way different than it is this year, and for the better. That could mean you’re able to shift some of your responsibilities that you currently have to allow for growth in a preferred area. Or maybe it means you will have brought in your first new client on your own. Whatever it is, you should remind yourself of it every day and be able to do at least one thing each day to get closer to achieving it.
As I said, this is even after you’ve landed the job you were hoping for. You are never done working. You will see people all the time that are content, that have landed the job they wanted years ago and have decided that that’s enough. Or worse, they don’t know how to change anything or make anything better.
But you will always have the opportunity to make small changes every day.
It’s like evolution: there is no point in the continuum of a species where it clearly changed. It’s just that minor changes every day, when viewed after a long time, look like a dramatic shift. When really, each day was basically identical to the day before it. You could never say that this was the day your job changed, or this was the day dinosaurs turned into birds. No, just slowly, gradually, each day makes its minor difference. Until one day you look around and you’re a completely different person.
As long as a change is made every day, one day you’ll get where you want to be.
You are always applying for the job you have
Sure, you might not be the most qualified for the job you want, but you might not even be the best qualified for the job you have now. I know, that’s a terrible thing to say. But think about it. Can you honestly tell yourself that, of all the other people in your field, in your area, you are the absolute best?
Just like you need to be demonstrating all the time to a potential employer that you are more interesting than everyone else, and would be more fun to work with, you want your current coworkers and your boss to feel the same way.
Be a good employee where you are now. This is for a couple of reasons:
- You never want your boss to think they should have hired someone else
- Your coworkers should never wish that you got fired or quit
- You may need a good reference
References from current coworkers are gold. We have all seen someone’s sheet of references from jobs they had ten years ago. That implies, “only people who don’t remember me will give me a reference.” Of course, there are plenty of situations where you can’t let anyone know you’re looking for a new job. But if you have trusted friends at your office who like working with you and want you to succeed — and will be a reference — you will be much better off.
This mindset is useful in other ways, too. It makes you strive to learn more about your field, in ways that position you for promotions. It makes you think about the competition, who would kill for your job, and how you can outwork and outsmart them.
People at other companies (ideally the ones you want to work at) will hear about you and what you bring to the table.
After being hired at a new company, I had a meeting with a respected business owner. He didn’t know that I had been hired at that job, and the first thing he said was, “Joel, I didn’t know you were looking for a new job. I wish you’d told me, I wanted to hire you.”
That’s an incredible feeling, but it’s not unique to me. I have many friends who have had identical experiences, and it’s because they work every day to make themselves better at the jobs they have. Don’t do it because it will get you a better job somewhere else, do it because it will make you that much more desirable to your current employer, and other things may just come as a result.
Read the best blogs that are relevant to your job, and some that aren’t. Really, just read as much as you can about as many topics as possible. Having a wide set of interests allows you to make abstract connections that others might not think of. Specializing is important, but knowing a little about a lot of things can get you pretty far, too. It means you’ll always know enough to be employable, and it means you’ll always have some interesting perspective or skill to bring to the table.
People with extreme specializations can demand huge salaries. But they can also become unemployed, and unemployable, if their industry disappears. I’m not making a judgment call either way, but I am suggesting that you consider what is best for your career.