A week from now, the eerie calm August, will give way to a frenzy of activity in September. In New York, there's a heightened sense of the rush as the seasons begin to change: a chilly evening at the US Open, restaurants brimming with well dressed people (who may or may not be part of fashion week) - an adrenaline is in the air.
The sprint to Thanksgiving is on! Closing deals before year end, meeting someone new before winter. Thanksgiving hits, and the city transitions into holiday party mode, end of year recaps, and far away vacations. Thanksgiving is a time for reflection - a feeling of calm, targeted center, and/or anxieties about the upcoming review, promotion and bonus season.
It's February 1, 2019, 30 degrees with the windchill off the Hudson, the stark winter sun glares in your eyes as you hustle to get a coffee, your breath visible in the air, under a bundle of cashmere scarves and coats. The rush of the Fall is gone, the drama of year end has settled. In the calm of February, you have a whole year in front of you: what's your next step?
Your Default Pattern
It's human nature to wait for a setback to take action to change jobs. As an executive coach specializing in Investment Banking, Private Equity and Hedge Fund clients aged 35-45, I see a spike of activity in January and February. In the stark morning light -- in the wake of comp season's emotions, a disappointing or unexpected review -- it's time to do something! It's time to get a different result this year. Like joining a gym, many react in the moment, stick with it for a few weeks, and then the familiarity of the routine pulls them in and they excuse themselves from inward thought because there's "just no time." There's no shame in this - it's how we're wired. As I've worked with my highly-driven clients, here's a process I've created to help you get what you want in business and in life.
The Fall is the best time to intentionally plan and explore a new path forward -- I am going to show you what that looks like.
7 STEPS TO GET YOUR DREAM JOB
Getting a Job 1.0 looks like this:
- Update your resume from a few years ago, and think "I haven't interviewed in years"
- Send your resume to friends
- Apply to tons of different jobs, get interviews - back into what you think they want
- See what you get - evaluate the offers, potentially make some compromises, move or stay put
Getting a Job 2.0 looks like this:
You feel like you want a new job. While you're a stone cold executor at work, this is highly emotional: shelter, money and love are the most elemental of human needs. Your job is a #CIRC of all three! Changing jobs could threaten this ecosystem or take it to new highs. Unfortunately, our "survival" DNA wires us to overweight the downside cases which could bring harm to our core needs. So it's hard to fight the Sunday scary voices that begin to swirl as we consider a move. Some typical thoughts and feelings sound like:
- I deserved more. They don't appreciate me, or see my contribution. I'm undervalued and this feels bad
- This company isn't going anywhere. If I don't deal with it now, I'll end up in a really bad situation a couple months or years from now. Given my age and title, it's time to move, but I don't know where to start
- The writing is on the wall - I have to move to another company
You can feel fairly isolated in this moment: what you've known, what's comfortable and feeds the bank account is about to change. Your friends have their own troubles, and don't want to spend all of drinks as your therapist. Maybe even you're nervous to talk to your partner or spouse about this. For those who have a therapist (bravo to you), this is a great person to share these emotions with and feel heard. However, a therapist is not a specialist in the next six steps! They can't help you because this isn't what they do.
Step 1: Acknowledge 'You Are Here' and Process the Emotion so you can think rationally
Changing the script around our basic needs inflames our nervous system and raises all sorts of old emotions we thought had left us years ago. Whether you're conscious of it or not, this is how you are wired, and Step 1 involves getting it out! Discharging these fears, anxieties and hopes to a great coach will allow you to get back to steady state.
Going immediately to React Mode of preparing the resume and lining up interviews is the most tempting and common response, however, this rarely serves people well... sure you'll end up in another "seat," but operating from this energetically charged state blinds you to a lot of compromises you're making to satisfy the fear of your mind. Mixing the feelings of the leaving the old place, with all the foreign feelings of a job search is exhausting, confusing, and flat out inefficient.
Instead, acknowledge where you are: a potentially major fork in your career, which will be filled with as much emotion as opportunity. The challenge is being aware of your feelings bubbling beneath, so you can interview from a place of balance, with your eyes wide open. We often stay in "comfortable" situations -- work or dating -- because what we know is easy; as they say, the devil you know... However, once you rip the band aid off and admit that you need to change jobs, it can be a bit overwhelming and exciting all together. Perhaps you were telling yourself it wasn't so bad and coping to stay; now you've removed those defenses, and while you're excited about what's next, you also may feel a bit ashamed you stayed so long or haven't taken action sooner. It's completely normal to feel this way, and it's important to get it out!
I have found that when my clients don't spit out their feelings around the end of one job, and the unknown of the transition to what's new, these unconscious/conscious emotions "Leak" into their interviews. You can't suppress your emotions completely (unless you have a personality disorder), so they are going to come out - you are human. When people interview from a place of anger, embarrassment, regret, hurt feelings, neediness, it dramatically hurts their candidacy. Like energy attracts like energy: so why would you want to use your wounded energy to attract a new job? Unsaid emotions smell, and emanate from you like cheap cologne - the interviewer might not be able to put their finger on it, but something about you is a turn off.
In this initial step, it's important to have someone you can listen to you, make you feel heard, and help you explore the emotions that are inevitably released by change. Even better, if this person has worked in your industry, you'll be healed by feeling like they really understand what you're going through because they've been through something similar - like an ultimate friend/colleague/psychologist.
Step 1 takes 6-8 weekly coaching sessions with time for reflection in between. You owe it to yourself to do this initial work, to position yourself for the best outcome!
Step 2: Writing Your Termsheet
Now that the emotions are out of the way, it's time to have a bit of fun: what are your desires and dealbreakers?
What do you want out of your next job? I have my clients create a two column word table - like a termsheet for a bond offering. Left column:
- Your role every day
- Type of firm/mission
Some clients initially resist this exercise because they don't want to limit their options. This is the fearful mind speaking - arguing that we should keep our options open and not eliminate anything, because who knows, it could end up being ok, and we need a job, so let's not do that.
When my clients get an offer for a job which conflicts with their termsheet, they inevitably turn the job down - perhaps a job they spent hours interviewing for. You know who you are. You know what you like. Go ahead: write down your "wants" and "hard-no's."
With the termsheet in hand, I help my clients think through what's behind each line: is it aspirational, is it coming from a place of fear? We refine this iterative document together, and the Termsheet sets the foundation for the job search.
Step 3: The "One Pager"
Your one pager tells the reader - in a quick glance:
- What problems you can solve & how their life is better with you
- Examples of how you've done this in the past
- Credentials: experience and education
It's crisp, and to the point. No one cares about the club lax team you played on in college.
The Fundamental Conflict
- Your job search is about you; your survivor instinct wants you to eat
- But nobody cares about you; they care about what you can do for them
As you realize this, you will stop taking "rejection" personally; and you will become a wildly effective salesperson of your own capabilities. You are a problem solver. You are an expert in something. This is valuable to someone else who needs you. They will pay you to provide this service. It's that simple: in economics, when two people see value in an exchange, they transact. As economic majors will remember, efficiency exists in absence of friction costs. Your ego, and your need for survival are the #1 friction costs. As you take this out of the equation, efficiency increases and transactions occur.
The One-Pager is structured in four parts:
- Two bullets at the top summarizing what problem you can solve
- Examples of how you've done this in the past / mini case studies
- Professional credentials: high level highlights of all the cool stuff you've done
- Education and relevant personal details
It's crisp and to the point. You are making it very easy for the employer, your client, to buy the product you are selling: your services
The one pager transforms the "interview" from an inquisition about your past which to equally useless to both parties, to a collaboration about how you can work together. Most importantly, the interviewer can clearly see what value you provide, and if that is of value to them, it flips the script: they realize they need you, as opposed to you begging them for a job. Traditional interviews miss the mark because the interviewer often doesn't know what they need, and so a wandering hour of one-off questions and "gut feel" do little to moving the relationship to a job offer.
Step 4: Networking & Generating Job Leads
The old script:
- "Hey, so i'm kind of looking for something new...
- "Can you introduce me to that person; I want to see what they think I should do
- "Are you guys hiring; can you get me in with HR?
This approach is inefficient and confusing: sometimes you get "mentored" and all kinds of advice you didn't want; or it's often the case when humans hear someone is looking for a job, they don't want to get involved; or if your search is fairly vague, people don't really know how to help you, which is a loss for all.
The new script:
- "Hi friend, I am looking at new roles. I can solve the following problem [insert first bullet of one pager].
- "Who do you know who might be looking for someone like me?
You've told them exactly how you can provide value, and they can think of who would be interested. There's no awkwardness; you aren't asking them for the job; you're not asking for advice. As specifically as you tell the universe what it is you are looking for, the universe will bring it to you. Staying broad, fearing narrowing your options - you break the efficiency of the universe, and end up in a Sisyphean loop of searching for a needle in a haystack.
You are a salesperson for your service, and potential employers are your clients: it's your job to help them get clear on what they need, and if that need is your specialty, it is a no brainer to hire you, and pay you what you're worth!
Step 5: Directing The "Interview"
It's not an interview! It's a collaboration, and you are a key driver of the conversation.
With your One Pager as the introduction to a potential employer, you have brilliantly lined up this conversation to allow you to close the deal, assuming there is one that makes sense.
If an employer saw your one pager and chose to interview you, they think might be the one to help them solve the problem. This is the magic!
After a minute or two of formalities, stop the traditional interview dead in its tracks. A typical interviewer will start with "walk me through your background" and you will start from the bottom of your chronology and a lot of conversation and interruption may occur about what you did 5-10 years ago -- this is a complete waste of everyone's time.
Instead, from a place of helpfulness, say:
- "Before I jump into all the details, I'm curious, what led you to take the meeting with me today?"
- "How do you think someone like me could help your team?"
People don't interview you for fun. They saw something one your One Pager / Resume that made them think you can help them. So go ahead, Ask them - what is it about me that you think has value?
Whatever they tell you will become the Northstar for the conversation:
- "We are looking for someone to help us do XYZ, and based on your experience, you seem like a good fit"
The interview then becomes a collaboration about how you could work together. What do they see as the biggest challenge? How would this help them? By getting to these point, you now get to solve their problems right there in the moment! They will come away realizing that you are helpful, valuable, thought clarifying, and a must have. They have a problem and you are the answer.
NB: If an interviewer resists these questions, isn't clear on what they want, let this be a red flag. You could end up working for someone who has no idea what they want, changes their mind constantly, or is simply a bad manager, who will make your life unfulfilling and frustrating.
Step 6: Evaluating the Offer
You got the offer!!! Now what? #emotion sets in again
- Am I really going to leave?
- Should I take this or keep looking?
- What does this mean to my family: my spouse and kids, parents?
- What if I go and it doesn't work out?
- Should I negotiate?
- Will this lead to growth and runway to move up
Step 7: Setting the Foundation for Success in Your New Role
I'll address this in another blog