Work Smarter Not Harder
The Importance of Planning Our Success
I’ve tried to become a recruiter at two separate points in my life. I failed the first time and I know exactly why. I wasn't smart about it.
I first attempted at 23, a year and some change into my first job out of college. I’d started as an office/community manager and “advanced” to sales and marketing.” (I say “advanced” because there was no pay raise and I was still doing office manager work). I was emotionally exhausted from being at the front desk every day, isolated from my colleagues (I managed a building alone at that point), and grossly underpaid. And while I probably could’ve asked to be switched fully to sales or marketing, I knew the office management would never be dropped from my duties. I also knew I didn’t want to sell real estate anymore and at the time I didn’t want to sell anything, so I applied to marketing jobs...
….without gathering my many blog posts, tweets and facebook statuses/campaigns into an organized and impressive portfolio.
I got no responses. I gave up. I started to consider the companies around me. I’d started as an office manager in a more corporate space, but had since moved on to manage the building housing startup companies. I became obsessed. The CEOs were so young and the companies were so cool. It was against my contract to work for any of my tenants so I looked for similar companies instead. Before I was moved to work alone, I had become friendly over time with the recruiters of two staffing companies, one for temp to perm office admins and another for home care. I watched candidates go in and come out. I got to hear about the best and worst interviews, about the joy of finding a match and the stress of a slow week. I’d always wanted to try it and there was no time like the present.
So again, I sent out my resume. I was sitting on a gold mine of entry level talent--experience with public speaking, cold calling, handling difficult clients, negotiating, training AND interviewing. I don’t know if I mentioned any of that in my cover letters. I’m pretty sure I was writing things like “I’m a hard worker” and “Very punctual.” I’m pretty sure I was still talking about my high school job at a toy store.
I did it wrong.
No one I was interested in reached out to me and all the jobs I didn’t want assaulted my phone. (Why did I EVEN APPLY to jobs I didn’t want?!!!???) On top of that, I’d had enough with faking a smile at a desk job every day for--barely-- 33k a year. I was done with it.
So I quit my job and took about six months off, surviving off savings with plans of launching my own business. Was I successful? (hint: No). Again, lack of planning and direction was my downfall. I went back to the tedious process of sending out resumes. I was depressed and completely unenthused about any of my job prospects. Again, I was ignored by the jobs I did want but hunted by the jobs I didn’t want. So I made my first effort to be smarter. I assessed everything.
What am I good at?: Sales, marketing and customer service.
What do I refuse to do?: More sales. More office management
What do I need?: More money, no dress code (yes, this was a NEED).
Primitive and a little sloppy but it got the job done. I eventually eliminated marketing also because I didn’t feel qualified to work in the field and would've had to take an entry level job. I wanted my next move to be upward and taking another entry level job to work my way up (to where??), wasn’t an option for me.
I focused on customer service something I had plenty of experience in.
Interviews and offers began to roll in. Suddenly I was speaking with people from Google, Handy and Quirky. I did two weeks at a call center and quickly learned culture and environment were VERY important to me.
My next job met my pay requirements, dress code requirements, exceeded my benefits requirements and turned out to be the most amazing work experience I’ve had to date. I stayed there over two years.
I'm saying it took about two months to get a job once I set some intention. I had tapped into what would become a powerful weapon on the job battlefield but I didn't know it quite yet. 53.7% of american women are unhappy with their jobs. Women are feeling lost, stuck and frustrated. Being able to assess a situation and reinvent the way we present ourselves as a professionals can help pull us from the pit of job despair.
Having a plan provides guidance, comfort that we have options and a goal, as well as supports a mindset that welcomes challenges and change. Because we have a plan, and because we know how to plan, unexpected bumps in the road aren't so scary, we'll just adjust our plan. Or maybe, if we're really good, our plan accounted for the bump!
While planning is in my nature (almost to a fault) and I know that I like it more than most, I still think planning our careers shouldn't ever be viewed as a chore but as an exciting first step in changing how we live our lives. It means not waiting for a promotion but presenting why we should have it. It means challenging the status quo. Planning our careers is a statement, we’re letting the world know we’re in control. We’re looking at the glass ceiling overhead and vowing to shatter it.