We have a lot more choice in our lives than we think…in everything we do…and today I want to share two aspects of “choice” that apply to your career.
One is about choosing who (and what) you work for (whether it’s someone else or yourself).
The other is about how your mentors will choose you once you make a choice to contribute at the highest level…and I have a short video at the end of this post that gives examples of that, past and present.
Choosing who (and what) you work for
I received an email this past week from a friend of a friend-of-a-friend looking for a new job–and she wanted my help.
This woman has fantastic experience and a skill set that could be applicable to a wide range of companies…but simply sending me a cover letter and a resume seemed like an ineffective way for me to help her.
To really help her I would need to ask her a bunch of questions:
What does she really want to do next?
Are there particular things she would want (even “need”) in a new employer?
Are there specific things that would prevent her from even considering a prospective employer?
And these questions are only the beginning of this inquiry.
It occurred to me that this process could be a lot more powerful if she thought about choosing her next (ideal) employer rather than leaving it to chance based on who might find her resume interesting…or relying on people like me (who don’t have the time to dig deeper) to guess what would inspire her the most.
I know it sounds a little dreamy to think that she (and all of you) could actually choose who we work for next from a small, select list of companies or people…but let’s dream a little.
I told her she could send me her resume but I was honest when I told her that we’d have to get lucky that I would hear about something and then remember that she was looking…my brain can only hold so much at one time.
It’s not that I don’t want to help her…it’s just that there is no way I have the bandwidth to do a proper “job search” for her (even if she was a close friend). Although there is probably someone in my world who would love to meet her…maybe multiple people.
Here is what I told her to do:
1) Link In with me…and then “go shopping” in my contact list…and not randomly either.
That is, do searches by industries she is most interested in…and if she has explored the landscape of companies that might be in her sweet spot, go deeper researching those specific companies.
Then create a very short list of companies you would most like to work for and be part of long term (however you define “long term”).
2) Expand this kind of thinking to ALL companies that meet your criteria (not just my Linked In contacts)…and be ruthless regarding what you want most in a company and a job…and your career.
And be equally ruthless about what the “non-negotiables” are (i.e. things that you will not accept under any circumstances with a new employer/job).
Non negotiables could include, for example, not believing in the products they sell or the services they provide; or the fact they are located in a part of the world you would never want to live or visit.
This is where you get very choosy. Feel free to make a long list.
3) Take that wish list of ideal companies you would want to work for above all others and craft a personal letter to each one addressed to the person as high up in the company as possible…or one you might know…or that someone else knows (and here is where you can drop names if applicable).
Mission number one, just like all of your marketing messages, is to get this letter opened…and then you must pour your heart out.
Can you imagine a copy platform in a “cover letter” that started with something like, “I have been working in this industry for ________ years, honing my skills, and the next company I want to work for is yours over the hundreds I have researched. I have been following your company for a very long time and there is no other place that fits all of the criteria I desire for my next job. I love all you do and stand for—and I will be the most devoted and loyal employee you have ever hired.”
Those aren’t the exact words you would use…but hopefully you get the idea.
Then, of course, you have to back all of that up by showing you did a ton of research on them—almost like you have been stalking them and their company.
Be very clear that their company is the one place you want to work above all others…and why.
And I recommend this not be an email with an attachment.
I recommend a Federal Express or other overnight package…and add something meaningful that also makes the package bulky.
Examples could be something you create for this company they might be able to use (e.g. like an ad for one of their products if you are a copywriter); or if the person you are writing to is someone you have followed and they have written a book you have read and studied, enclose a copy of their book asking them to sign it (and include a return Federal Express envelope)…and of course talk about why their book is so meaningful to you.
Again, these are just examples…use your creativity but never lose your integrity.
This is far from brownnosing if it’s done with sincerity…and if it’s sincere, I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want to meet you once they learn that you know as much about their company, mission, values etc. as they do—and that you have chosen them as your next home above all others.
Now I know many of you work for yourselves or you see your next “cover letter” as one you will actually “send to yourself” as you become your own next employer (i.e. you don’t want to work for anyone else).
This is why I said you are always choosing who– and what–you are working for.
But I think the same philosophy applies: Find the companies and people you most admire in the category you want your start up to be in and start digging re: how they got there.
In this scenario, your “job search” might entail finding a mentor rather than an employer…
Your mentors choose you
Most people think that finding a mentor is as easy as scrolling through your Facebook friends or simply reaching out with a well-crafted email.
But that’s completely wrong.
Your mentors actually choose you.
And just like you choose who you want to work for or what you want to do to create magic on your own —never forget that you are in charge of how people will hire you, buy from you…or in the case of mentors, help you.
In this video I’ll tell you what you need to do if you want to find a mentor who will invest time and energy to help you advance in your career.
It’s less than 10 minutes…but don’t watch it if you are not prepared to think about playing full out when it comes to having the right people in your court helping you.
P.S. Speaking of helping you, I am hosting my first “Ask Me Anything Webinar” later today with many of you who filled out the survey about the biggest challenges in your business. I will be doing “mini hot seats” with as many people I can for up to two hours on the call.
I will give you a report on how it goes and whether I will be doing a webinar like this again…so please let me know if that is something that might interest you for the future.
But there’s one thing you can’t ask me: “Will you be my mentor?”
Please watch the video above to find out why that is the wrong question to ask anyone.
And let me know what you think.