Three ways to think creatively about your careerPosted: January 28, 2016
In today’s competitive employment market, it’s no surprise that job seekers need to ramp up their efforts to stand out from the crowd. It can be tough to land that dream job and a seemingly endless stream of rejection emails can be discouraging (to say the least). Luckily, there is so much you can do to nail the job search and achieve those #2016careergoals!
This year why not change the way you approach your career? In the age of digital disruption, workplaces are increasingly decentralised – and competition is fiercer than ever. In our parent’s or grandparent’s day, a job search may have consisted of sending out a standard resume and cover letter, landing an entry level job and working your way up the corporate ladder. However, the rise of the freelancing economy and other innovations means our career is a lifelong investment that may consist of multiple job changes and unique pathways. It’s time to get creative when thinking about your career, starting with these three tips…
Create a unique and authentic personal brand
One of the most important things you can do for your career and job search is articulate your personal brand – and the sooner you can do this in your studies, the better. Your personal brand is who you are including your strengths, your skills, your values and unique personality. Essentially, your brand is ‘what you want to be known for’, whether it be strong leadership, creative thinking or amazing cupcake decorating skills. Understanding your own brand will require self-evaluation and will help focus your job search to ensure job fulfilment and long term satisfaction in your career. It will also help employers realise why they should hire you over anyone else – what’s unique or special about you and what specific skills and values can you bring to their company?
Here are some good places to start:
16personalities.com – this free personality test uses the Myer Briggs typology to help you undergo self-assessment and realise the types of work cultures, leadership styles and career paths that are best suited to you.
PwC’s personal branding workbook – this workbook outlines activities to help you identify your strengths, weaknesses, values and passions with advice on turning that information into a powerful personal brand.
12 ways to perfect your personal brand – this is a great article from Levo League with important steps to utilise and refine your brand!
Tip: Once you’ve identified your personal brand, why not turn it into a personal job seeking website? This is a great way to demonstrate your brand and show employers you’re willing to go the extra mile.
Demonstrate your “value add”
Recent graduates can tend to forget that organisations seeking new employees primarily want to know that a candidate is worth their time and money. It can cost thousands or even tens of thousands to hire and train a new staff member, so it’s understandable that an employer wants to know up front exactly what value you can bring to their company.
Unfortunately, job seekers often focus on what a company can do for them. This is evident through generic ‘copy-paste’ career goals such as: “to succeed in an environment of growth and excellence and earn a job which provides me job satisfaction and self-development and help me achieve personal as well as organization goals.” Not only is this boring and inauthentic *yawn* but it fails to demonstrate any real, measurable value. Don’t do it.
The best way you can demonstrate your value is to solve a problem for a company or identify a unique opportunity your future employer may not have thought of. This could be communicated through your job seeking efforts or be something you prepare for the interview. This will require extensive research on the company, creative thinking and innovative problem solving skills.
Here are some good examples:
Nina4AirBnB – The Nina4AirBnB campaign is a perfect example of thinking outside the box and a unique demonstration in bringing real value to an organisation. Nina’s research and ideas are creative while showcasing her unique skills and experience to her target employer AirBnB. While you don’t have to go to this much effort, looking at Nina’s website is a fantastic way to spark your creativity!
The Amazon resume – Another fantastically creative example, Phillipe Dobust made his resume look exactly like an Amazon product page. Not only did this approach showcase his skills, but it demonstrated Phillipe’s passion for the company and tenacity in his job search.
Tip: Why not go the extra mile in your job interview and prepare a handout or report that details a strategy or solution that you would implement if you were hired in the role. This way, you’re directly quantifying your worth and showing an employer what you can do for them!
Master the art of the “coffee chat”
You’ve likely heard the age old adage ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. If the thought of ‘networking’ makes you curl into the foetal position and rock back and forth on your bed, then you might need to rethink the whole concept.
An effective, and much less daunting, method of networking is the informal ‘coffee chat’. This is where you identify people in your field that you admire and ask them for a 15 – 20 minute meeting to ask their advice. The purpose of the coffee chat is not to ask for a job, but is a long term strategy to expand your network and gain valuable insight into your profession.
When asking for a meeting, make sure you have researched the person and/or company you’re contacting and be sure to demonstrate your shared interests through citing one of their projects or achievements in your initial email. Be clear in what it is you’re asking for (for example, I would like 15 – 20 minutes of your time to hear about how you got started in the field) and try to offer something in return. This can be tricky if you’re just starting out so you might need to get creative.
While the purpose of the coffee chat is not to ask for a job, you would be surprised how effective it can be in helping you gain employment. The more people in your industry who know who you are, what you do and your unique skills and interests, the more likely it is you will be recommended or suggested when a job does become available.
Most importantly, ask for advice not help and remember to follow up the same day with a thank you email.
Here is some more information to help you master the art of the coffee chat:
10 intelligent questions to ask on an informational interview – here are some great example questions to ensure you’re prepared for your meeting.
3 types of informational interviews – here are some handy hints about what to expect and how to get prepared.
Informational interview 101 – here is some further info about how to get the coffee chat, what to ask and how to follow up.
Tip: Although the concept of a coffee chat with a stranger can be extremely daunting, it’s important to remember that you’re talking to a person who likely wants to help you. They probably remember being at the early stages of their career too! Once you master the first coffee chat, the next ones can only get easier and easier.