Are You a Linchpin?
From Career Tips, 2011 Volume 8, August
I really enjoy Seth Godin's writings on branding and marketing. Some time ago I read Free Prize Inside, which gave me a great jumping off point for an article in Career Tips.
I'm now listening to Linchpin, a book he wrote on the job market and career search.
His basic premise is that you have a choice - you can be a factory worker or a linchpin. A factory worker focuses on doing repetitive tasks well. A linchpin applies unique skills, expertise or knowledge to add additional value and become indispensable.
If your focus is on those factory worker tasks, you will continually lose ground in your career. Your role becomes a commodity, and as soon as others are found who can do it cheaper or faster, your position is in danger. Your role can easily be outsourced or automated.
I was struck by how this concept applies to success in your career search. I see tons of job seekers who are doing the same things as everyone else, and when they get frustrated that they aren't landing quickly enough, assume the solution is to do more of those things, quicker.
The problem is that the vast majority of job seekers are not all that good at marketing. They signed up to be project managers, systems engineers, technical writers, controllers, etc., not to be marketing and sales people!
Marketing and sales are out of their comfort zones, and what they've learned about it they will often tend to approach by rote. They may understand what they are trying to accomplish at some level, but it's close to the surface. The mindset they need has generally not become deeply enough ingrained for it to become natural.
So if you model your search on 'what everyone else is doing', how successful will you be?
The most successful are the Career Search Linchpins who figure out ways to distinguish themselves from everyone else and truly master niche marketing. Instead of worrying about their competition, they focus on what makes them unique to stand out in the crowd.
The good news is that because such a small percentage of job seekers have really taken this lesson to heart, you can quickly become the purple cow (to go back to one of Seth Godin's famous phrases). This will not only make a dramatic difference in your success in the job search in general, it will tend to unearth and put you in the running for more interesting positions.
This doesn't mean you should throw out everything you've observed fellow job seekers doing. Many of those activities are vital, you just need to learn how to engage in them as a Linchpin.
For example, networking is by far the most successful way to approach any career search. Unfortunately, it gets a bad name from the large number who don't really get it.
Networking isn't about asking people for jobs, or even asking them where to find jobs. It's about building powerful relationships that unearth opportunities for you naturally. It's a give and take, not a one-way street, even when it doesn't always feel that way.
For networking to really move your search forward, you have to have done your homework. You need to have a strong message that shows you as master of your niche, and engages the listener. You need to have a conversation that creates strong engagement in you, what you can do and what you are trying to accomplish in your search. In other words, you have to become that purple cow!
If you do that, you won't be pushing to create connections, they will draw themselves out naturally. You will have built that spider web that catches interesting opportunities.
So, are you a Career Search Linchpin?
Or do you:
- Spend more time going to job search groups than professional events?
- Focus more energy on group events than creating one-on-one meetings?
- Model your elevator pitch on the (generally unsuccessful) ones you hear all the time?
- Spend lots of time and energy following the job boards?
- Submit your resume to lots of opportunities everyone else is seeing?
- Ask everyone you know about jobs?
If you struggle with becoming a Career Search Linchpin, and really want to take serious action to change your results, take my Career Search Accelerator assessment.
I'll schedule a 20-30 minute call to talk through your goals and challenges, and explore if there is a fit for us to work together on getting you past the roadblocks that are keeping you from landing that 6 figure job you deserve!
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