No one likes a job search. We have so little control during the process that the larger part of success becomes managing the anxiety. Unfortunately, too many women manage the anxiety by fetishizing the perfect resume or insisting on the perfect job ad. The truth is: a resume doesn’t hire you, and a job ad doesn’t hire you. A person hires you. So why aren’t you out there contacting people?
I was reminded of this fundamental truth when one of my coaching clients–let’s call her Miranda–told me a story about her niece. In the fall 18-year-old Mary (not her real name) is starting at an exclusive private college back east. Nevertheless, her dream is to study at a prestigious university arts department in Los Angeles. It just so happens that Mary is visiting her auntie in LA this summer. Mary seized this opportunity to court her dream arts faculty, even though she had been denied admission there.
Mary emailed the dean of the school, requesting to sit in on several summer courses. “We don’t do that,” came the reply. Undeterred, our young heroine emailed the course instructors directly. Each one agreed to have Mary visit her class. And each one fell in love with Mary. One invited her to continue attending for the duration of the summer, and one offered to put in a good word for her with the admissions department.
Mary’s campaign didn’t stop there. Wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with the name of her dream school, she ran into one of its staffers on a visit to her building’s laundry room. It turns out, that staffer’s colleague has a son in the arts department. They connected, and he agreed to introduce Mary around. What’s more, when he saw Mary’s work, he invited her to help out on one of his projects with the department’s board.
When Mary reapplies, she’ll be a familiar face to the board, the faculty, and the admissions department–not just another anonymous transfer application.
Thanks, Mary, for showing us how it’s done.
The moral of the story? Stop rewriting the resume. Stop waiting for just the right job ad. Start meeting the people who can hire you. And don’t take no for an answer.
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photo by deanmeyersnet