I was listening earlier this month to a prominent national sports radio talk show. One statement from the discussion caught my attention: “Stubborn gets you fired.” The comment made was about John Harbaugh, the head coach for the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League (NFL). Coach Harbaugh has been a very successful coach in the NFL for over two decades. Over the years, he developed a coaching style and way of running his teams. But in 2019, he knew he had to embrace change and adapt if he was to survive and keep his job. In other words, lose the stubborn or lose the job.
The Ravens had drafted Lamar Jackson, a once in a lifetime generational talent, in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft. He was slated to become the Ravens full time starting quarterback for the 2019 season. Coach Harbaugh understood that to take full advantage of his franchise player’s skills and abilities, he had to move away from 20
years of coaching rules and experience. He had to be willing to “rip up” his playbook and build a new team and offense around this amazing player. Sticking to the old way of doing things was not going to work. Smart decision. The Ravens are on their way to the playoffs, and Lamar Jackson is the leading candidate for the league MVP award this season.
When it comes to today’s job search process, “stubborn gets you fired” might be better translated as “the old ways won’t get you hired” or something along those lines. I speak regularly with prospects and clients jettisoned from their employer after two decades or more within the same organization. The last time they had to look for a job outside the walls and the safety of their current employer was years ago. Back then, the job search process meant drafting a standard resume, applying for a job, describing your previous experience in the interview and then accepting the job offer.
The times they are a-changing. These same individuals enter this new world of job search armed with a resume from the outplacement agency. They take that resume, apply the old rules to their job search, and start applying for jobs. Months go by without interviews, let alone job offers. Holding on to the old ways of searching for a job is not going to get you hired. It’s time to adapt to survive and win that next job. If we rip up the old job search playbook, what are the new rules?
Be an MVP
You may not have been drafted in the first round of the NFL draft, but you can be the MVP of your career. Start with some deep soul searching and complete a self-assessment of your skills, talents, and accomplishments. I call this the heavy lifting of the job search process. Introspection and soul searching are not easy tasks to complete. Grab a cup of coffee, a glass of wine (or scotch in my case), and a writing instrument (pen or digital). Think about this topic:
At its core, employment is a financial transaction. The employer makes an investment in you with the expectation of receiving a positive return on that investment. Your work and contributions should generate more value for the organization than the sum of the salary and benefits you receive in your paycheck. So, list out up to ten examples from your career where your work produced measurable (quantifiable) results that had a significant positive financial impact on the organization.
Identify the common theme that runs through these stories. For example, customer acquisition, vendor negotiation, employee retention, to name a few examples. That theme(s) is the foundation of your MVP status.
Put Your Talents on Display
You literally can’t turn on ESPN these days without seeing highlight videos of Lamar Jackson on the football field. Plus, he has an agent managing his public relations. Think about what you are using to showcase your talents in the job search process. A resume that highlights your skills and experience as if one was reading a list of duties and responsibilities? Much has already been written about how to leverage your resume as a powerful marketing document bringing your value proposition to life. If your talents don’t show up daily on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays, here a few additional ways to put your brand on display.
Upload examples of your work (major presentations, projects, and papers) as linked media in the About section of your LinkedIn profile. Yes, you do need to be careful about exposing sensitive or confidential data. But a few minutes spent adding company anonymity to the document is all it takes. Or use a PDF software tool (I recommend Kofax Power PDF Advanced) to quickly redact any material.
Create a website to put all your work and talents on full display. Free from the restrictions of a two-page resume or the structured LinkedIn platform, you have an opportunity to put a face to your abilities and a visual representation of your value proposition. Several platforms allow you to create a personal website for little to no cost. I am a fan of Wix. I am the farthest thing from a professional web designer. But using the Wix platform, I was able to create my site (on my own) in less than one day.
I first learned about Lamar Jackson when I read a blog article he published on The Players Tribune site. It gave me insight into who he was as a person and not just a player. His words converted me into an instant fan. You can do the same thing but on LinkedIn. It’s easy to start writing your articles on the LinkedIn blog platform. Employers want to hire thought leaders, continuous learners, and those who are pushing the boundaries of their chosen discipline. These same employers want employees with exceptional communication skills. Developing a portfolio of your articles accessible directly from your LinkedIn profile is an excellent way to stand out from the crowd. You have the thoughts in your head. Just start putting them down on (digital) paper. I try to publish my articles at least once per week. Start with once per month and build up your activity from that point.
The definition of stubborn is “having or showing dogged determination not to change one's attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.” That does not sound like the formula for a winning job search. Today’s job market requires you to break the old rules of your job search process. You don’t have to reinvent yourself. But you do have to embrace change and evolve your search process.
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Dan Troup is the Managing Director of the AdvantEdge Careers coaching service. If you are interested in learning more about how a job search expert and certified career coach can assist you, please contact AdvantEdge Careers for a free initial consultation.