By Jimit Popat
People often ask me why I chose to work in the education sector and my answer is “my love for education comes from dislike. I dislike the education system that I and a million others were a part of! A system that has been unable to adapt itself to the rapidly changing environment thereby rendering itself not just inadequate, but often also a harmful misrepresentation of what makes us work ready or life ready. How often have we had to unlearn what we were taught in school and college to become successful to either find a job or do well at our workplace? As Sir Ken Robinson once famously said (and I’m paraphrasing) – people who do well is often not because of their education, but despite it.
During my exploratory journey, I discovered my passion of developing individuals towards becoming better prepared and ready to find their right calling. I do this through sharing my personal learnings, failures and daily observations as a hiring manager.
With that in mind, I have put together some obvious and some not so obvious things we can think about while we are looking for our ideal workplace, either at the start of our professional journey or even when we are looking for a change.
Hope you find some of them useful and please share your ideas as well! Feedback and learning from others is the best way to improve after all (Another thing I wish was taught in school)
1) Start with your why and find places that give you the how
One of the most common and useful tips while starting a new search is to first do an internal research and then let it guide you to an external one. Spend some time to find your Ikigai . Based on that, make a list of the organizations that would fit that definition and have opportunities to capitalize on your skills and experience.
2) At a minimum, know the basics
As a Hiring manager, there is nothing more off-putting than spending time on a call with someone who has not put in the basic effort to read about what the organization does, what role they are keen on and why. Only when you are convinced that the vision of the organization and the requirements of the role are aligned to you will you be able to convince them of the same.
3) Bring a solution
People often forget that the reason why an organization has a certain role open is that they need someone to bring a solution to a problem that they currently cannot fix. Let’s say there is an open position for a Social media specialist – that means the organization needs someone to come in and help us with the social media strategy and execution as they don’t internally have the capacity/ resource to do it. This is your golden opportunity. Spend time doing research and talking to people to understand exactly the gap that the organization is trying to fill and then pitch to them why you would be the right person to bridge that gap.
4) LinkedIn is not Tinder
Although technology is moving us in a direction where applying to jobs is as easy as swiping right, that still should not be a reason for us to use it with a similar mindset. What it basically means is – Don’t apply to 50 companies at once. Think of your top 3 (preferably just one) choices and then immerse yourself into those organizations. If you try to put your feet in too many boats, you might end up on none of them. As a recruiter it takes just a few seconds to identify who has done their homework and who is just trying their luck. Although it might be a useful strategy for some kind of roles or work, but in the long term it may not be the best strategy. Apply to an organization because you fell in love with what they do and want to be a part of that. Put in the effort to find a work place where you would love to show up every day and build yourself up so they can’t say no.
5) Your resume is not a silver bullet
People often get surprised when I tell them this – If you are applying to 10 organizations, you must have 10 resumes. Don’t get me wrong – it doesn’t mean you have to invent stories about yourself. What it means is – customize your resume so that it reflects better the skill sets required for that particular role. It shows the hiring manager that you have done your research and know what they are looking for. If a role is looking for someone with strong team management skills, customize your resume in a way it highlights that particular skill at the forefront.
6) Update your LinkedIn profile (NOW not later)
Often people reach out to me during their application process asking me if I can help them with their LinkedIn profile. Yes, I can try, but in reality, if the organizations to which you are applying were going to check your profile, chances are that they already have. The right time to start updating your profile is not when you are applying for jobs but now. Building even a basic LinkedIn profile takes work and time. Hence, for your potential employers to see your profile in all its glory today would mean you should have already started updating it many weeks ago!
7) Build your brand consciously
I had a phase where I was very curious about content marketing (I am still fascinated by it). During that time, the kind of posts I was reading, videos I was watching or posting were around those topics. Just a few days later, I started seeing options and roles available in that domain and was even approached by organizations working in that specialization for possible roles. With the advancement of AI, platforms are able to strongly understand our interests and customize opportunities for us that it feels are aligned to our interest. It made me realize that I must become more conscious about even the kind of online footprint I am leaving out there because that is what the world sees of me.
8) Think long term
Let us say your dream place to work for is Google. Go to their careers page and go through the kind of jobs they have that you would love to do 5 years down the line. Find out what they look for in people for those roles and use it as your blueprint. Make a plan to consciously start honing or building your skill sets in that direction.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you found it useful, share it with others. Tell me what you thought of it as well!
(The article was originally published here and has been republished with permission)