This is another in a series of monthly advice posts made in association with the Career Collective, a group of professionals who collaborate to provide guidance for job seekers and careerists. The questions this month, in honor of April Fool’s Day, are: How are you fooling yourself about your career/job search? What can you do about it? "How to avoid being tricked by common job search blunders?"
April Fool’s Day. Job Search. It’s easy to see how the idea of fooling one’s self comes with so many of life’s big change efforts. So, I decided to research April Fool’s Day and found that at least part of the tradition involves sending someone on a fool's errand. According to Wikipedia, this is “a task that cannot be accomplished because of fate or because it is a joke. It comes mainly in two varieties: trying to find something that does not exist, or trying to accomplish an impossible task.”
So, it seems this is almost exactly fitting for job search! Or, at least the traditional approach as many people implement it. You know: resume, cover letter, business cards, networking events for job seekers, and inviting anybody and everybody to connect on LinkedIn. Actually, it’s not that any of these elements taken alone or together is foolish. No. Mostly, it’s putting them in service of the desperate quest of landing, once and for all, in the promised land of a steady paycheck, benefits, and a daily structure that allows you to blend in.
Frankly, even when you do manage to find a job, you still face a world in such flux that it would be delusional to think it’ll last. In 1994, William Bridges wrote about the end of the job. A few years later, Dan Pink wrote about the rise of Free Agent Nation. Perhaps they were just a bit ahead of their time, as “the job” seems to have done quite well for itself, over the years. Of course, we’ve also seen lots of dislocation in that time, as we’ve witnessed the world becoming flat, with jobs disaggregated, digitized, and off-shored.
Just recently, an Expert Blog post in Fast Company, highlighted “The Downfall of the Institution and the Rise of the Personal Brand.” Starting with the impact of social media, authors Nick Nanton & JW Dicks clearly point to the power you now have in your fingertips to drive “buzz about you [that] in turn raises your profile and credibility,” so you’re no longer “an employee with limited options.” Instead you become a “free agent operating no differently than the sports stars who are able to offer their skill to the highest bidder.”
Their powerful conclusion is this:
“Now, in the new ‘Branded Economy,’ you are all allowed to play the role you want in building your brand and building your value. If you don’t take control, you will risk becoming irrelevant and relegated to the position of a cog in someone else’s wheel.”
Clearly, it’s time to venture out. If you haven’t gained personal clarity about the value you bring, get started. If you aren’t exactly a digital native, time to become a digital immigrant and find your way to a presence in the new world of the social web. As long as you stay tied to the concept of traditional job search in order to find a regular job, you are fooling yourself.
When I think of self-delusion, it prompts a chain of thought starting with lyrics from the Talking Heads’ classic song, Once in a Lifetime. I literally think: “same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was…only its not!” And because it’s not, you need to get a clue from one more line from that song and ask yourself, “How Do I Work This?”
Cross-posted at William Arruda's Personal Branding Blog.