Yesterday, I had a peer mentoring session with a good friend of mine who’s looking for a job.
And in the conversation, I realized that there’s a huge common ground between job hunting and promoting a band.
It’s all about identity.
When you’re promoting a band, it’s crucial to define who you are and what your music is. You need to have a concise, clear way of describing your identity as a band. You want all the promotional material to reflect that identity — from band photos to bios to web sites. If you’re a glorified garage rock band, then you’d naturally want a sense of trashiness in your presentation. A hushed, quiet folk music, a sense of earth and tranquility.
This is also true about job hunting.
When you’re looking for a job, you’re not just trying to find a job that you qualify for and then show the interviewers how your qualifications match the job listings.
You can get a job doing just that, but that’s a crap shoot. You’re just waiting to be lucky.
What you have to do is to clearly define who you are, and look for a company that looks like they can use someone like you. And this is more about culture than specific qualifications. Different kinds of people work in different industries. Advertising agencies are filled with Type-A go-getters, they are casual and slick and trendy. IT tends to be very analytical, confident yet competitive. I’m overgeneralizing here, but in general this is true.
I myself have had multiple stints in publishing industry and non-profit arts organizations. Why? Those industries tend to attract people like me. I would think I’d fit well in higher-education institutions, too, though somehow I never had a chance to verify that, so I might have been wrong.
My friend is an IT professional, but he told me about how he doesn’t like a lot of IT guys he meets. It’s very macho and competitive, and while very smart, they can come across condescending and arrogant — even to their customers! He felt that he was different. He loves helping people solve their computer problems. He’s great at explaining technical concepts to people who are not savvy. I could tell that the helping was the part that drove him to do his job — not the technical knowledge.
When I looked at his resume, though, what he had on there didn’t tell me what he just told me. So I told him to put that in at the top, nice and bold.
“I’m an IT tech who’s not an asshole.” 😉
While people like my friend may be minority among IT guys, there are companies who would love to hire him. He himself identified that he felt more comfortable in non-profit, healthcare or higher-education institutes. (see why he and I are friends?) He’d be a well-appreciated IT guy in a non-IT industry, where people care about helping other people.
I’m convinced that with this new realization about who he is and where he fits in, he can go and find a great job, sooner rather than later.
You see how the process went:
- Figure out who you are.
- Articulate it in presentation.
- Send that to places where like-minded people congregate.
This is exactly the same, between job hunting and promoting a band. I imagine, it’s the same, too, if you’re looking for a romantic relationship, or any friends.
We have to first know ourselves, then figure out how to tell others about who we are, before finding like-minded people. Once you realize this, then you can get better at doing this.
Everything starts with your identity. Be sure to start close to home.