"I helped make this" [Kickstarter]
Do you know who you are? I don't mean your title, that means little here. I mean your craft, your skill, your love and strength.
Career vs. job thinking
Many make the mistake of looking to others to find the answers. As long as you do that, as long as you depend on others to define you, as long as you wait for the job to tell you who you are, you're not going to be free to become that person.
Many wait until the job is no longer there to start thinking about taking charge of their own career. Don't.
I have plenty of experience here. Having helped with exit strategies for two companies and one start up that is no longer, I can tell you that even when you expect to transition out, it's not painless and easy -- without an action plan. None of the cliques works, either.
What works is a plan for yourself -- a road map for your own learning and career.
What are some of the things you should do today to realign with your own purpose and work?
Idea generation for uncovering career opportunities
Starting your own business
1. Tac Anderson is giving away business plans, see if there's a spark there
2. Check out the small business administration site for programs and services
4. Hook up with a company that helps market startups, like Team and a Dream
5. Escape from Cubicle Nation if you think you're next, or want to make the move
6. Find a coworking community, or create one.
7. Discover how to really kick ass
Working on your promotional kit
8. Read up on LinkedIn, ask your savvy friends to give you a tour
9. Find a better way to show contract work on your resume
10. Write a professional biography to use for informational interviews
12. Brand your point of differentiation from other candidates
13. Get free business cards
14. Create an online portfolio
15. Learn to be situational in presenting yourself. One single elevator speech won't do it anymore
16. Get business references. Identify those people who have worked with you and feel comfortable vouching for your results, and ask them to either be a referral or write a referral about you on LinkedIn, for example
Finding job openings
16. Look for online community and social media jobs at the Online Community Report, on Web Strategy's site, on the Jobs in Social Media and Social Media boards, with companies that get it, at the Community Guy's site, on Forum One Networks, at New Media Hire
17. Get advice from a social media headhunter
19. Meet recruiters on Twitter by following the list I created. If you're a recruiter, and would like to included on the list, leave your Twitter handle here and I'll add you
20. Ask yourself if you're the right public relations candidate. Check out job descriptions. Do you need a skill update?
21. Learn how to identify and avoid job scams
22. Work for free, if you can do it, in exchange for experience. Here's what Charlie Hoehn did
23. Go for project work that could become full time, or at last tie you over
24. Solicit and go to many informational interviews, but don't waste those people's time. Show up with a specific plan of action, or set of things you ask of them: 3 leads, one contact at company "xyz". Make it easy on them to say yes. Do all the work
25. Know that your best jobs are often through your network
26. Be helpful, I really mean it. Become a reliable source of information on your industry, or specialty. This is kind of like blogging, as it positions you in people's mind as the "go to" for a certain topic
28. Attend events in your city. Getting out and face to face with people is important
29. Maximize event attendance, here are 5 tips
30. Turn to professional associations to help. Yes, you read correctly, build a resource for others in the process
31. Prepare, prepare, prepare. This warrants highlighting
32. Research companies in your area, or make a list of companies you aspire to work at. Then match that list with people in your network. Drive the process, and be specific (and limited) with your requests
33. Follow up diligently and with the same passion you would use in a project/work situation. If you're not enthusiastic about meeting people and working with them, even at a network level, they'll think you won't be in the job and not recommend you
34. Stay professional at all times. Never, ever, ever descend into negativity about anyone
35. Don't sell. Networking is just like social media. People are quite resistant to a hard sale, especially if you're new to the scene
36. Do tell. Be concise, effective, memorable. This last one means you do more active listening than yapping
Freelancing while in search
37. Take 30 days to become a freelancer
38. Talk to your friends and neighbors about your availability
39. Look to agencies for projects. Can your expertise help them take an offering to the next level? Question to agency types - do you welcome this kind of collaboration? How would you suggest someone go about it?
40. Hook up with interesting assignments at companies. See networking for suggestions on how. Freelancing is a good way to test the waters on cultural fit
Taking your career to the next level
41. Learn a new skill. For example, you could tuck into Web analytics and try a lot of the stuff on your own blog. I see Web analytics as a strong component of marketing jobs of the future
42. Have a strategy and set SMART goals - specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely
43. Borrow a page off Chris Guillebeau's book and conduct an annual review
44. Experience social networks and media by building participation into your plan. Do you comment on other blogs?
45. Apply for an unpaid internship (if you can) in an innovative company
46. Stay hungry for new experiences. This is more attitude and approach, but we know that they are essential
47. Start a new creative project and share what your building with the world. Find out how to get your project funded, or how to fund someone's work on Kickstarter
48. Find a new vocation by volunteering for an organization that caters to that field
49. Innovate! Create a new way of doing something and build a process around it to market as you look for the next opportunity
50. Stay positive, exercise, eat well, find ways to be energized and keep asking bigger and better questions
Do you have more ideas and resources? Links I can pair with some of the points that have none? Share them in the comments.
[edited from the archives]