What kid doesn’t love Halloween? You get to become your favorite character, plus you get a bag full of candy!
But as you get older, Halloween loses some of its magic. Trick-or-treating and consuming large amounts of sugar are no longer top priorities. Instead, you are required to face the responsibilities of adulthood: holding down a job and making money to pay your bills. However, some lessons from your past Halloween experiences will help you become better at managing your job search.
Some children plan their Halloween costumes well in advance. These are the inspired costumes. Hours go into researching and securing items to assemble the perfect, authentic outfit.
Children with inspired costume ideas enthusiastically tell all their friends and every adult they know what they will dress up as for Halloween. They also want to try the costume on — a lot. They are excited about the character they will become for those few hours on Halloween.
Some job seekers, on the other hand, approach their search without enthusiasm or forethought. Take a page out of the trick-or-treaters’ book and invest time envisioning what you want your next role to be. Research what the job requirements are, what skills and experience are needed and what companies are hiring for that role. You may want to shadow someone to get inspired and try the job or get into character by volunteering or doing pro bono work. Next, tell everyone you know what your new career goals are so they can help you find good opportunities.
Work through uncertainty.
You have probably met children who are non committal about Halloween. When you ask them what they are going to be, you are never quite sure what their answers will be because they change their minds many different times during October. One day they say they are going to be ninjas, the next day they say they are going to be pirates. Parents of these kids are confused and unsure how to help.
Pressure mounts as the big day draws near and the uncommitted trick-or-treaters begin to panic, which tends to lead to frustration. By the time they know what they want to be for Halloween, they either can’t find the right items they need or the costumes are sold out.
It’s OK to be uncertain about what you want to do next when you first start your job search. However, you do want to make the most of every conversation and the possibility that someone you know may be able to help you in your search. Do not confuse your network by frequently changing your mind and career plans. Wait until you know what it is you want to do before communicating it to your network.
And before you start talking to your friends and family, you should have at least narrowed your job search to a couple of ideas. You may ask your network for their feedback on these ideas to see which they think would be best.
[See: 16 Low-Stress Jobs.]
Make a plan.
Kids are smarter than we often give them credit for. In the days leading up to Halloween, they strategize about which neighborhood they will visit, hoping to find the houses that pass out the best candy and offer the scariest entertainment. They carefully map out the stops along their route for efficiency and the best results.
Job seekers can learn a lot from this strategy. Don’t waste time wandering through dead-end streets lined with darkened houses. Instead, plan your job search to get the greatest return on your investment by talking to people about the available jobs in their companies. Job boards seem like the fastest, easiest route to a new job, however, the greatest number of new hires comes from referrals instead.
If you do plan on talking to people, make the most of your time. Go where the action is. Attend professional association meetings where you know you will find people who work in your field or industry. Or attend an event where you can meet people from your target companies.
[See: 8 Careers for Creative People.]
What if you were to change how you perceive searching for a new job? Instead of stressful, what if it were as exciting as Halloween is to a kid?
Instead of dreading your search, think of it as an opportunity to meet new people and learn new things. And more importantly, finding a new job gives you the chance to start over. You can have a job where you make more money, work with people you like and do things you really want to do. Who wouldn’t get excited about all these things?
Whether handing out candy or escorting your Cinderella or Batman, have fun this Halloween! Note the creativity and strategic thinking on display, and use it to inspire your own job search.
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