What Job Should I Do?
Professional growth and finding a job can mean so many things. When you’re looking for a job (that’s more than a “job”), the first and perhaps most important question you can ask yourself is “In what ways might I be of service?” This might seem like a nebulous question so let’s look at its structure and components. “In what ways” specifically avoids limiting words like ‘best’ or ‘highest paid’, and instead allows for creativity, innovation and possibilities. The second half of the question gets to the substance. Any opportunity is fair game; in this case we’re looking for opportunities to “be of service”. Why service? Because positions where we are of service are both more satisfying and more lucrative. If you’re not good at it and/or no one wants it, you haven’t yet found a job…
So how are you going to figure out “In what ways might I be of service?”
Inventory your strengths and find out which of them brings you happiness when you employ it. For example, you might be a great cook but you really don’t enjoy being social – maybe food service isn’t for you. But maybe you also enjoy menu planning so being of service in a programmatic role rather than a front-of-the-house socializer feels better. The key is to find the intersection of skills, strengths and happiness. Still wondering how to figure this out? Reflect on what you do during the day that makes you happy and then figure out how that was of service to you. You did *x* and you cared because *y*. This is a classic marketing and entrepreneurship tool – features and benefits. In business we usually get stuck on features and think they’re why people buy a product. But no, we really buy products for their benefits. Perhaps you did the laundry today. Did you do the laundry because you want to make sure your washing machine wasn’t getting out of practice (features)? Probably not. More likely, you did a wash because you appreciate having clean clothes (benefit). So, the question is: what are your strengths/assets/features and how can they benefit you (or a business)?
After mapping this out (and it will continually evolve), it’s time to meet people and find a company or position where you might put these features and benefits to work. Traditionally at networking events we ask the same boring old question, “So, what do you do?” – wherein we learn only a “feature”. I encourage you instead to ask questions like “What excites you about being a (banking, sustainability, counseling…) professional?” to move beyond features and into benefits, in this case, their values. Next, pick up the phone and make a proposal to meet again. “Hey, it was great to meet you last week. I’ll be downtown tomorrow and it looks like I’ll be within a block or so of your office. I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee and learn more about what you do.” Who doesn’t want to be taken out to coffee to talk about themselves? And, by initiating a concrete invitation you’ll create momentum toward an actual meeting rather than a boring game of phone tag. By the way, that invitation works wonders for cold-calls, too. Good luck and tell us how it goes!
Kate Chase, MBA is a writer, consultant, clinical massage therapist and educator based in Seattle, Washington. With an undergraduate degree in voice performance from Oberlin College Conservatory, an MBA in sustainable business, and ten years in private practice. She’s looking for opportunities to blend human performance and corporate development in a way that changes business for good. She is also a foodie, strengths-based performance nut and an ardent baseball fan. Follow her @zbkate.
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