What is it that makes you an excellent candidate for that dream job? Deep inside you are certain that this is the fit for you. But does the interviewer sitting across the table know it too?
This situation feels very familiar to me, having been on the job market several times. During my undergraduate studies, I hoped for internships each summer (4 times). While completing my BS, MS, PhD, and Post Doc I investigated full-time positions at each break. During every interview the same question arises:
Interviewer: “What interests you about this industry?”
Me: “Things, so many things. I can’t list just one!”
These experiences taught me that while we are in school, we should spend time thinking about our place in the world. We should be building our place in the world.
People succeed when they possess industry-specific technical talent and form genuine human connections. Every student should create a genuine online presence.
Seth Godin points out (correctly) that the Industrial Economy has given way to the Connection Economy. You don’t have to look far to see it. The automotive industry’s big new feature this year isn’t gas mileage, power, or capacity. Its built-in LTE wifi.
In a Connected Economy, people who follow directions are easily replaced by someone just as effective, but cheaper. On the other hand, irreplaceable people create human connections that cause someone to change their mind.
“Depth of knowledge is rarely sufficient, all by itself, to turn someone into an [indispensable artist]… Art is a human connection that causes someone to change his mind… The more people you change, the more you change them, the more effective your art is.” – Seth Godin, Linchpin, assembled quotations
This imperative crosses all industries: authors, engineers, and cashiers all must demonstrate an ability to move beyond technical work and perform emotional work as well. The only way to demonstrate that you are capable of creating these human connections is to do it.
”You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” – Henry Ford
The days of isolated interviews in which you rattle off answers to HR-approved questions are gone. With the enormous number of students graduating college each year, companies have their pick of talented individuals. Now they seek (in addition to technical talent):
- “Notes of recommendation from three people I know and respect
- A past project I can review
- Media buzz about what that person has already done
- Leadership of a group on a social networking site
- A regular blog that is compelling and engaging
- A high EQ (Emotional Quotient) vs a high IQ
Don’t have these things? Then why would someone see you as an outstanding candidate?” – Dan Miller, 48 Days to the Work You Love
I’ll give you a hint: you won’t find these items in a lecture, homework assignment, or test. You must connect. Your dream job is being offered to someone who did.
Its Time, Right Now to Build Your Place On the Web
This three step plan will get you connected to the community in your industry of choice.
- Create a blog. This is your digital home on the web, if someone wants to know more about you, this is where they land.
- Create social media profiles. Several popular/effective platforms are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. On each platform, join/create groups that center on topics that matter to you.
- Contribute regularly, with substance. Create new content (blog posts, digital portfolio of projects). Share your new content (via social profiles, let your people know you’re contributing). Share other’s content (via social profiles, recognize great ideas and help your followers access resources you found useful). React to others’ content (comment on blogs, respond to social posts).
Its never too soon to start, but it can be too late.
Your goal is to demonstrate a track record of engagement with important topics and people who are actually working on them. Think: Digital Portfolio. The conversation is happening, participate! You will interact with the movers and shakers of your industry. And as a bonus, you’ll have a chance to frame genuine answers to the question, “How are you interested in [insert field here]?” Remember,
“Thoughts disentangle themselves when they pass through the lips and fingertips.” – Dawson Trotman
What can you do today to start building your community? How are these uses for social media different from the ways you use social media now? Leave a comment below.