Great conversation with Alan Corey, author of the The Subversive Job Search: How to Overcome a Lousy Job, Sluggish Economy, and Useless Degree to Create a Six-Figure Career. His insights might surprise you.
Why do you think most job-seekers trust the status quo approach to looking for new employment?
No one is taught job hunting in school so many job hunters get their job searching advice from a trusted family member or friend who they think has great job. They want to know how he or she was able to do it so they can replicate the same steps. Unfortunately, that advice is always outdated as they’ve probably have held that job for five or more years and even worse, it may be the only job they have ever had.
You want to talk to someone how is constantly job hunting. Ask them how they are getting noticed? What is working and what is not working? I’ve had 5 jobs in 24 months and I learned a lot as I was constantly on the hunt. And I’m still learning more. But the big difference is that employers are hiring differently than they have in the past.
A decade ago, employers hired based on an employee’s potential. If you came from a good school or had a college degree, then you’d be worth taking a chance on. But now employers don’t have time or budget to train new employees, which means job seekers need to come in with value on day one. It’s on the job seeker to pay to get their own training, have to find their own way to build up their own skill set, and create their own working experience. Showing you can come to work the first day with value is the difference between getting noticed or not by a hiring manger in today’s economy.
In your book you discuss your struggles with depression. It seems like depression would go hand-in-hand with a loss of a job, what advice would you give to someone in that spot?
Yes, I was unemployed for a year and suffering depression and the number one thing is getting help. Depression sucks the life out of you, and without help from family and therapy I may still be there. Talking about it helped a lot and allowed me to look at my situation in a new light.
If you find yourself in this situation reach out to family, friends, and professional help. My therapist gave me the tools to get back on my feet. There shouldn’t be shame associated with losing your job. It happens. It’s life. I realized I was one of millions suffering from lack of employment and it gave me encouragement to try job hunting in different ways. I eventually made job hunting my number one focus, stopped blaming others for my problems, stopped blaming the economy for poor job prospects, and taught myself how to job hunt subversively.
Is it important to know what’s most important in your life when considering the next opportunity?
This is a huge key to job hunting. I’ve job hunted for different reasons based on my and my family’s needs. I’ve taken jobs just for the paycheck, I’ve taken jobs for the experience, and I’ve even taken jobs for the abundance of vacation days it provided. Each served a different purpose of my life at different times.
It’s crucial to recognize where you stand in your career. If you are entry level, go for the experience. Or better yet, go for what excites you or what you want to learn about. And realize that every job you land may end quicker than you think it will, so always be building up your skillset so you are instantly employable in case you get laid off. By taking after-hour classes, networking outside your office, and reading your career’s industry-focused magazines you’ll begin to learn what it is that you want from your career and you’ll also know what it will take to get there. Working on your career doesn’t just stop when you leave the office.
Where do you see the U.S. job market heading in the next 3-5 years? Will people get more subversive in their approach to finding employment?
I think the job market will be improving and I see no other way to job hunt than to be a bit subversive. You have to make yourself a big fish in this huge sea of job applicants. This can be done by branding yourself correctly, working online or for free to earn a reputation, or finding ways to be noticed within your career niche. If you are labeled as an expert at something, even if it is just one tiny task or responsibility, this goes a long way to get employed. Someone out there will have a need for this expertise and is willing to pay top dollar for an employee to fill it. If you recognize what these skill sets are with your career, you’ll be no longer be a job hunter, but you’ll be head-hunted instead by well-connected recruiters and hiring managers. The ideal situation for anyone looking to further their career.What advice would you give the person, just out of college, trying to land their first job?
With hard work comes experience, with
experience comes opportunities, and with opportunities comes luck. And with all of these four things working for
you, then comes wealth. To be a graduate shows you’ve got the ability to work
hard, but most graduates lack experience that makes them the in-demand hires
they want to be.
I’d recommend freelancing online via website like odesk.com and elance.com to earn real-world experience as quickly as possible and to prove you are a self-motivated candidate. This is also a great way to learn what you like within your career, learn what skills are in demand, and make a little money on while you job hunt. Furthermore, they’ll have actually talking points to discuss in future interviews that can help them make a great first impression.
Alan Corey is the personal finance and career author of “A Million Bucks by 30” and “The Subversive Job Search.” You can learn more about him by visiting his website at www.alancorey.com or by following him on Twitter @alancorey.