Like anything you own, occupy or truly possess, you career needs to be treasured like a sacred piece of land. You just don’t stumble into your career these days, you need to claim it, seize it and by all means retain it if you want to get ahead. Staking your career claim is like venturing into unchartered terrain looking for the last piece of unclaimed land like the Land Rush of the 1800’s. You are competing against many other hungry and at times desperate folks who are searching for the same thing and are running against the wind to beat you to the finish line. Your career search may have you looking over your shoulder wondering who might be picking up their pace, closing in behind you.
Your career search is a game, a hunt and at times a crusade searching for the Holy Grail of jobs. Like never before you may find yourself up against insurmountable odds hoping against hope that you will luck out and be the one offered the coveted job opportunity. And if not, the game resumes with you a little smarter, more cunning and a little more agile in your ability to discern the playing field a whole lot better. Your career claim is a daunting task and if anyone tells you it’s “easy” they are lying to you. Now more than ever before you’ve got to be smarter than your opponent, because this is an all out talent war against the talent not the employer’s who are hiring them.
It’s not enough to be strategic, prepared or even well networked these days. Making your career claim is about perseverance and a deliberate and calculating attitude they don’t teach you in business school or in outplacement session. You are on a hunt, which means you need to think and strike with precision and forethought if you ever want a chance to cross the career finish line. This means you are not waiting for someone to reply to your job posting submittal or your LinkedIn in-mail request. You are actively and deliberately seeking out opportunities even when none apparently exists. What does that mean exactly? You have to create your next job if no one is creating one for you. In order to do this you have to be very deliberate and calculating and be very well informed to what’s going in and around your profession and in the industry.
Reading trades, e-newsletters and finding out what new projects a company is involved in is one way to start thinking out-of-the-box when it comes to creating and claiming a career opportunity for your self. Waiting for someone to tell you what job is open and applying the old fashion way is not going to work. If you hear that a company is having difficulty in an area where you can lend your expertise, THEN by all means send an in-mail and work your network for an introduction. Start speaking with bankers, lending managers, venture capital groups anyone that is involved in funding new projects for companies that you are interested in working for or areas you might see your self fitting in. Educating yourself on new technology, business applications and new ventures in and around the industry and “connecting the dots” so you are ahead of what’s happening allows you to think differently and creatively apply for jobs that quite frankly don’t exist. Business is moving at a rapid pace even though our economic conditions are bouncing off the wall to trying to keep pace. Your job search is no different. Supply & demand. You’ve just got to be in a position to claim the demand and supply your self as the talent necessary to complete the job. If you are too busy applying for the same jobs everyone else is you are not going to gain much traction in your race against the job clock.
If you start to think differently about how to approach your job search you can start to expect different results. Always following the path already plowed might help you get back in the job game but if you really want to stake your claim, you’ve got to find the shortest route to your destination and not follow the rest of the herd. Put a stake in your career before someone else does it for you.