“There is one quality more important than ‘know-how’ … This is ‘know-what’ by which we determine not only how to accomplish our purposes, but what our purposes are to be.” – Norbert Wiener (The Human Use of Human Beings, 1954)

Yesterday (in Message #487), we talked about your career. I suggested that if you want to go faster and farther, you should not only be doing good work at your present job but also be actively pursuing a better one.

This is a process that should be ongoing. It should begin the day you start working on one job and continue until the day you get accepted at the next. If you put that kind of upward pressure on your career trajectory, it’s bound to skyrocket.

Your “better job” may well be with another company — even in another industry — but more often than not, it will be the next best job with your current employer.

If you prepare yourself for a better job by working harder and smarter, chances are (ironically) you won’t have to go out and get one. Your current employer will be happy to keep you and promote you — and he’ll meet your growing capabilities with increasing compensation.

But if you do find yourself unemployed, you will have to go after your next job with the target-marketing approach I described earlier this week — treating yourself both as a salesperson and as a sales product.

And you must work — just as hard as you work doing anything that’s worthwhile. That means putting in at least 50 hours a week. If you currently work fewer hours than that — well, you are probably in trouble. Here’s are some suggestions (some from Jeffrey Fox’s book “Don’t Send a Resume”) on how to maximize the hours you work getting a job.

1. Work every day getting contacts, appointments, interviews, and commitments. You might even have fun with this system by assigning each event a point value. For example, a lead would be worth one point, an appointment would be two points, an interview would merit three points, and a commitment would give you four points. A good daily goal to aim for would be five points, made up of any combination of these point/event values.

2. Maintain your goal and task lists. Most of the tasks on your daily “to-do” list should be aimed at getting a good job. Achieving a daily point goal (see above) would certainly be one of the tasks that would get highlighted.

3. Develop criteria for the job you want. These should include location, company size, the type of work involved, flexibility, etc.

4. Review newspapers, magazines, online sites, and trade journals — but research only “prospects” that meet your criteria.

5. Narrow down each day’s possibilities to a handful of genuine opportunities.

6. Research each of these opportunities by reading, visiting the business, examining its products, speaking to current employees, going for “informational” interviews, etc.

7. Write targeted letters to potential bosses (bypassing their personnel departments).

8. Send thank-you notes to all those who respond to you, even if negatively.

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