Job landing secrets from the best job lander I know

Job landing secrets from the best job lander I know

High-level search strategies can land your job of choice--even with little previous experience in the field.

One year ago, I went to a neighborhood holiday party that resulted in a new job.  It’s a great job that aligns well with my priorities:  10 minute commute; in my target industry; plenty of growth potential; solid match to my skills and interests.

It’s also a job that I never would have landed were it not for this party.  In fact, I couldn’t even complete the on-line application, because I lacked certain minimum qualifications and the software blocked my submission.

[My friend and client Kathy Bristow has always landed professionally on her feet and in the industries and roles she’s desired—usually with little or no direct experience in the areas.  I asked her to share some of her insights, and she graciously complied.  Kathy continues…]

But at this holiday party, I ran into a fellow mom from my kids’ school.  I learned that she worked at a local community hospital…in human resources.  So I asked a lot of questions and took it as an opportunity to learn.

I told her of my desire to transition into health care.  I didn’t ask about employment, but asked if she could recommend someone at the hospital whom I could talk with about preparing for a transition into the field of hospital operations. She took my email and said she would let me know.  Two days later, I got a call from an executive at the hospital asking if I could come interview for an actual job.  Within a few weeks, I had the job.

While this may sound like I was luckily in the right place at the right time talking to the right HR person, I don’t believe that conversation would have turned into a job offer in a completely new industry had I not been following my “career change” guidelines.   This is not the first time I have completely changed industries and landed a good job.  I have always been more motivated by my interests than following a logical career trajectory, so I have had to “break in” more than once.

My education is completely unrelated to most of my jobs, I have taken time off from career to stay home with kids and faced “re-entry” challenges, and I have been laid off in a down market.  Through all of this job searching and reinvention I developed some guiding principles that have always served me well:

1. Listen

Listen to what people say about their work and their jobs – what motivates them?  Why do they like what they do?  In my current job I work in LEAN transformation for clinical practice (helping doctors and nurses find ways to do their work more efficiently). I was not aware how LEAN manufacturing principles could be applied to health care until I talked to someone at a friend’s house a couple of years ago who did this.  I have always had an interest in medicine (but no training), and I mined her for as much info as possible – this seemed like a viable way for me to pursue the field without years of training.

Next, I researched it on my own.  I read some books, I took a course.  When I ran into the human resources acquaintance at the holiday party and she said her hospital was going through a LEAN transformation, I was able to have an informed conversation about it.

 2.  Don’t make your conversations about needing a job

When you do happen to run into someone who works where you would like to be–what career coaches call a “target organization,” don’t hint about needing a job.  Ask for information – listen (see above).  Let people talk, sometimes they will go ahead and talk themselves into why they need you working with them.

3. Cultivate your interests and own them

Know yourself.  This is what all the career advisors and books say but it deserves re-saying.  I can’t tell you how much satisfaction I have from knowing I have always followed my interests.  I may not be as far up the job ladder as I could be, but my work is ALWAYS interesting to me.  Since my interests tend to change, so do my jobs.

My first career was working in economic transformation in Russia.  I studied Russian language and history.  I spent a few years in Russia doing something very interesting to me and then felt I was finished (mostly with the winters).  I cultivated a new interest – technology – and followed that to the next job.

I love reading speeches and articles by Sheryl Sanberg, the COO of Facebook.  She often makes the point that she could never have planned out her current job back in college, it didn’t exist!

Read part 2 of Kathy’s job search guidelines–including “Don’t go back to school,”  here.  To make sure you hear about all of our postings, sign up for our “Crucial Career Tips” at the upper right hand corner of this page.