At the age of 13, I got my very first job washing dishes and stocking food at a local grocery store. I was hooked! Work was awesome to me. I loved working. I broke a sweat, made money, and the people around me succeeded in the process. Jobs changed over the years and so did my career. I transitioned from industry to industry.
Yet, I never had to interview and my resume was never used once. People just found me and hired me. I would not be an unemployed job seeker again for the next 30 years, until age 43, when I now had to worry about my age.
In 2016, I was laid off from a job and my Ironman Streak ended. Around this time my mother became sick with cancer. Naturally, I saw the right thing to do was take time off from finding work, so I did. Thankfully, my mother recovered quickly. Upon re-entering the workforce as an unemployed job seeker, I quickly discovered something was wrong:
- My resume was terrible and could not pass these recruiter tests.
- I had zero practice with impressing people at job interviews.
- Sometimes companies do not want people who did the right thing.
- Everything was counting against me.
So, short of money and no shortage of creativity or work ethic, I came up with some crazy (low cost) ideas to make myself better at job interviews.
Going to pointless job interviews
During my unemployment, I went on job interviews as a retail store manager, community manager at a fashion website, a customer service job at Peloton, and many more I was neither interested in nor a cultural fit.
Why: Admittedly, I was freaking out and nervous about finding a job. I wanted to get the interview practice and learn from various interview methods. I wanted to see what hiring managers were doing. I wanted to apply all the LinkedIn advice I was reading.
- LinkedIn advice from the wrong people can hurt your chances of finding work.
- Talking about sick parents in job interviews is TMI.
- I was more attractive to hiring managers the less I cared about getting the job.
And that knowledge of what made me more attractive to hiring managers and recruiters started to help me. I was discovering the unwritten rules of job seeking.
Work jobs that are beneath your experience level
Did you ever notice what happens in baseball when players are not performing well? They get sent down to the minor leagues. It is not because they stink. It is to give them a chance to get their game back in shape, usually, by absolutely dominating a league they played in while growing up. And that is what I did for myself. I took tiny jobs related to all the things I felt I had once mastered.
Why: I wanted the positive feeling back of working that I once had while washing dishes as a teenager. I wanted the positive feedback from something, if anything. I was out of game shape. I was beaten up by being unemployed and taking care of a sick mother. I needed to accomplish something again and remind myself I deserve to be working somewhere.
- Helping others succeed is a great way to prove you should be hired elsewhere.
- Actually having a job that pays makes job interviews much easier to stomach.
- The confidence gained from accomplishing something is priceless.
I also decided to take a business course on Gamification. I even hired a service for writing resumes that also helped me look for work called Find My Profession.
Tried services or business classes few people know exist
Yes, I was one of the first clients of Find My Profession. At the time, it was a new, very different business model. The founder, Mike Podesto, wrote me on LinkedIn and I joined. Also, I took a business course I heard about from a friend called Octalysis Gamification. These two actions were both directly and indirectly related to me getting hired.
Why: The Gamification course discusses people’s motivations in life and why businesses are essentially “games”. I needed to read something like that because I needed to know what motivated me.
Find My Profession fixed up my resume and helped me get more interviews. Given it was a new business, I would talk to the founder and offer advice. It was fun to share what I knew. Eventually, the company hired me.
- Never stop learning and trying regardless of your feelings of dread.
- Every idea is crazy until it works.
- Always spend some time looking for hidden gems in your network.
Most important lessons learned
Every idea in this world is a crazy one until it finally works. A businessman said to me years ago:
- “Can you imagine how stupid the idea of crash test dummies sounded, originally? Let’s ruin brand new cars by crashing them into walls with dummies inside. This will help save lives”.
Sure, it makes sense now but did it always? What works best for you is the result of working hard to discover yourself and your motivations. Regardless of how much you think you know yourself, throughout a career the business market changes and it affects what motivates you in your career.
Never be afraid to fail. There is a list of crazy ideas that I tried while unemployed. And the list is endless. I didn't know were crazy, at first, until they failed miserably. Then, the idea did not deserve repeating. The best online advice is usually written by people who failed many times. And the worst advice is merely counter-points from critics who never try at all, yet claim to know everything. Fear of failure can also be disguised as a “practical thinking”. Do not fall into that trap!
There are certain laws of attraction that must be obeyed while job seeking. In my case, this was the most important one:
“You might think that if you want something very much that it will create a stronger vibration for manifesting. But, that can send a message of neediness for what you want, which translates into desperation to the Universe.”