By Kevin Kane
A long-time reader
Ask The Headhunter (ATH) offers great advice about job hunting. But ATH is not merely about “getting a job.” It is about doing the work you love, at the highest level, to continually improve yourself and to be a bigger contributor to the world. Let me share how it helps me, and how you can use it during the job search and beyond.
The Headhunter likes Ayn Rand’s fiction. Her stories glorify productive achievement, showing work to be exalted and energizing rather than trite and tiring. Her characters work with ambition, verve, conviction, reason and tenacity. They make a difference; they make things better. It is hard to read Rand without wanting to jump up and change the world.
Work with the best; be one of the best
But inspiration is not enough. It was not until I discovered ATH that the seeds of how to implement Rand’s inspiration were planted.
Reading Nick’s work made me realize what it takes to be truly productive and invaluable in the workplace. You have to be honest. You can’t fake anything. Don’t lie about your “qualifications,” or waste time with HR if they do not ask you to demonstrate your work and to show how you can produce profit. Go to the people who do the work you want to do, the work that creates value, to talk and learn about how you can add value. You will know you are not faking it when you can clearly show a company how you can add value and profit to their particular business.
How I go “above and beyond” – and surprise managers!
I was talking with a company using a standard ATH approach. I talked to one employee after another, having each refer me to another as I built my reputation within the company. When I finally met a hiring manager, he must have heard I had talked to several people, because he said, “I’ve been in this business 11 years and frankly, no one has ever done what you did. What are you up to?” He was impressed, but shocked.
Sometimes my motivation to learn about a business makes its employees wonder if I am spying for a competitor. Why else would I be interested to learn so much about them? No mere “job hunter” would go to such trouble. But my interest in companies and their people is what gets me in their doors.
3 tips from Ask The Headhunter
There are three eminently useful lessons I’ve gleaned from ATH. Apply them yourself and see what a difference they make.
1. Be honest with yourself
If you don’t completely know something that could help you do stellar work, don’t pretend you do. Learn it. Overcome your fear to ask a stupid question, because it isn’t. When I have questions which seem dumb or elementary, I ask anyway. Even when I ask them of experts who’ve been doing good work in their fields for years, they sometimes say, “I have no idea, but that’s an interesting question! Maybe you should talk to…” That is how you expand your contacts.
2. Talk to the best sources
These people are not necessarily the most prestigious, but rather they are the ones who can most clearly and enthusiastically answer your questions. Especially valuable are those who not only know, but truly care. Once they see that you are reputable and have a sincere interest in their work, they say things like, “That’s a good question, but an even more important one to ask first is…” These people are gems! Treasure and cultivate your friendships with them.
3. Seek to be the best at what you want to do
Do what you absolutely really want to do, not what it seems like you presently need or have to do. Imagine you had all your needs met. What would you then do upon awakening in the morning? Once you answer that, try this kicker: What’s stopping you from doing that now?
Rand inspires me, and ATH shows me how to use that inspiration. But like all of us, I sometimes get sidetracked. That is when I ask the very simple question, “Why am I really doing this?” It gets me back on track to what I really want. It connects my everyday actions to my most important dreams, dreams that are becoming more real one step at a time, and each step makes them seem even more attainable. Perhaps most importantly, this fills me with confidence that I really am contributing something significant and useful to the world.
Kevin Kane is a published commentator on mobile and wireless solutions, and is co-author of the article “Proactive Personality and the Successful Job Search,” in the Journal of Applied Psychology.