The tendency to excessively prepare is a toxic habit.
If you want to get a great job now it’s far better to build practical skills rather than signing up for a theory-heavy credential.
Especially for those who choose alternative and self-directed options to build these skills, it’s worth exploring the various tactics to communicate what you’ve accomplished and why it’s valuable on the job market.
At Praxis, we’re constantly creating, testing and looking for new tactics to share with our participants and alumni.
Today, I’m sharing 10 of my favorites:
“I like to have very clear parameters around my arrangement. I pick 1-3 projects to deliver on for free and I ask to start getting paid once I’ve finished. Setting clear expectations is important. How long will this take? I’ve seen people transition into full-time work in 1 week and I’ve seen it take up to 6 months.”
The first tactic is from Derek Magill. I started with this one because it’s probably the most practical and I see an extremely high success rate from proposals that follow his suggestions.
In his article, Derek reviews in detail examples of both successful examples of free work proposals and some common pitfalls to avoid.
“Dan and Ian from The Tropical MBA put up another job posting. This time for a marketing manager for an ecommerce brand they ran. I applied again. In the year since we had originally spoken I’d built a profitable side business and was project manager at a digital marketing agency.
“You told me I didn’t have any skills. You were right. Now I have skills.” I got the job. I discovered that if someone gives you advice and you follow it, they are likely to give you more advice and, sometimes, opportunities.”
Next, we have a characteristically thorough essay from Taylor Pearson. It reminds me of the saying “The best time to plant a tree was 10 years ago, the next best time is now.” In this example, the metaphor for the tree is documenting your work.
Taylor goes through his process of dropping his plans for law school and embarking on an ambitious course of apprenticeship: reading and self-study all while “putting those ideas to work for a small, entrepreneurial company during the days.”
After 5 years he has something much more interesting than a law degree.
“Which brings me to what you should be really focusing on when you are unemployed: Learning and growing. Because this is what you are going to talk about in job interviews.
Most people require about six months to get another job. This is a big chunk of time that you can piss away sending resumes to Monster and wondering why no one responds.”
If I’m not reading the Praxis blog, I’m browsing Penelope Trunk’s awesome site.
It’s one of the best blogs on the internet, period.
In this article, she gives her unique take on how to approach the job search process.
“Let me teach you the fastest way to get a job you love. You won’t need to spend another minute filling out job applications, or tweaking your resume, or any of that boring stuff that never leads to a job offer or a promising future. Forget all that.”
Charlie Hoen really got our attention with how he approached landing a job for Tim Ferriss.
He’s consolidated some of those ideas into a unique method that skips the wasted time on job applications.
“Most people are terrible at negotiating their salary. They leave over $1 million on the table because they’re afraid of saying the wrong thing.”
In the below video, the always engaging Ramit Sethi gives a very practical demonstration of how leading with value makes job interviews and salary negotiations much easier.
“In December of 2016, I decided that I’d like to join the team of a high growth startup 3 years after dropping out of college to work on unconventional projects and boats in the Carribean.
In January 2017, I started as an intern at Praxis and by April was working full-time in the marketing department.
Along the way, I documented the thought processes, email scripts, and videos I made to present myself and communicate the value I could bring to Praxis.”
This is a tactic that I developed myself.
After taking a non-traditional path, I wanted to own the uniqueness instead of accepting labels like college dropout or person with large gaps in his resume.
Instead, I created a unique personal narrative that wrapped those experiences into a package that communicated why my particular skills would be valuable here at Praxis.
The upside of this particular post is that it takes pieces of many of the tactics explored in this blog and shows how they apply to a real-world case study that actually worked.
“The Career Craftsman believes this process of career crafting always begins with the mastery of something rare and valuable. The traits that define great work (autonomy, creativity, impact, recognition) are rare and valuable themselves, and you need something to offer in return. Put another way: no one owes you a fulfilling job; you have to earn it.”
Cal Newport author of the sensational Deep Work and So Good They Can’t Ignore You tackles the subject of building what he calls career capital by developing “rare and valuable skills.”
“Given statistics that say that as much as 80% of people don’t like their job, and some 25% of us are un- or under-employed, I scratched out a quick flow chart for questions to ask yourself about your current job — or a job you are considering.”
I love this one-page journaling exercise developed by Sarah Peck. It helps tackle the epidemic of FOMO by helping you compare opportunities and choices against each other in a tangible way.
“Instead of writing about how you have SEO skills, send in an analysis of and plan to improve the companies SEO.
Instead of listing your excel skills, send in a spreadsheet you made that could be valuable for there work.
Instead of saying that you can create value, actually create value and watch how many opportunities it will open for you.”
Episode 41 of our podcast Forward Tilt covers our favorite tactic for communicating value to a potential opportunity or job. If you enjoyed tactic 6 it shows the perspective of a business owner who’s evaluating and making hiring decisions based on the value proposition explored in that post.
Together, they help you get a birds-eye view of the whole hiring process from the perspective of both job seeker and employer.
“It’s not enough to attend a few more conferences or take a few people out for coffee and hope the impression you made was well-timed. And that’s good news if you hate the traditional networking anyhow.
Instead, you have to build value-heavy connections.”
Lastly, I loved this fascinating article about the hidden job market. It outlines a framework for creating value on an interaction to interaction basis. This is a longer-term strategy that can help you plant seeds for opportunities that aren’t widely advertised.
The tactics we explored in this article work and are extremely useful if you’re looking for a new challenge.
Whether you’re thinking about going back to school, leaving school, or just doing some research about future opportunities, I encourage you to step out of the preparation comfort zone and take some action on whatever comes next!