Audiences look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them the best way to find a great job is not to look for a job.
What’s the logic behind this? It’s simple. Why pursue one job, when you can have a whole company full of them? That’s essentially what you’ve got when you go to work for the right company. So, why is it that people clip want ads and apply for jobs in lots of companies, rather than investigate the depth and breadth of opportunities in a single company of choice? (Maybe it’s because employers themselves pitch individual jobs rather than promote their company properly.)
Stop looking for jobs.
What does this suggest for your job search today? Stop looking for jobs that seem to match your credentials. Instead, look for good companies that are in a business you want to be involved in for the long haul. If the company has people, a culture, a product line and a future that appeals to you, investigate it in detail. That’s where you should be investing your energy—not in want ads.
Make your own map.
When you’ve selected a worthy company, map out all the functions you’d be interested in, then map on your skills and the ways you think you could make a contribution. Consider how your career might progress through the various parts of the company, and how your skills could benefit each department. (This latter point is one most people miss: You must be able explain how you could make a clear contribution.)
Next, evaluate the company in terms of whether it can offer you the job changes and career development you envision for yourself. Then, get to know the people who do the kinds of work you’d like to do at that company. What you learn through these contacts will dictate which of several jobs might be best for you to start with.
If you’ve picked a great company, new jobs will be available and your career will evolve naturally and profitably.
Take the long view.
What if you find the company you want, but it doesn’t have the job opening you’d like? Don’t walk away. Find out what jobs are open that could lead you toward your next objective in six months or a year. If the company is an outstanding place to work, don’t worry too much about your first job there. In fact, don’t worry too much about any one job, because the work changes quickly in any job nowadays, and that will determine the course of your career at the company. Consider any particular job an investment toward the next job, and your various jobs an investment in your career.
When you pursue a job, you’re actually setting yourself up for a potential series of jobs and opportunities in a company. That’s why it’s more important to select the right company and doggedly pursue it, than it is to pick a good job and apply for it. The right company will have lots of good jobs for you for a long time to come, making it unnecessary for you to go job hunting again any time soon.
To learn more about making good choices, see “How to pick worthy companies,” pp. 10-12, and “Is this a Mickey Mouse operation?”, pp. 13-15, in Fearless Job Hunting, Book 5: Get The Right Employer’s Full Attention.