Giving: 4 ways it will help you get a better job

As I referenced in a previous post, it is never to early to start building your network and (re)discovering your career strategy. One way to do this, as Peter Bregman suggests also, is by giving away your time and effort through volunteering. Recently, and somewhat unexpectedly, I followed this advice by meeting with some folks who are leading a start-up food business called Beer Bites.

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Coming soon: The Ultimate Bar Snack ™

As the beautiful and virtually content free-website suggests, we are in the very early stages of product and business development and there is lots to do. At the end of my first meeting, I joined the ops team and will be helping secure the ~50 Boston area bars and lounges who will pilot the launch of Beer Bites. Shameless plug: email me at ryan@beerbites.com to learn more or get involved!

This experience helped clarify four specific ways that giving can help anyone get a better job, no matter how soon:

  1. You will learn quickly by being out of your comfort zone. Regardless of the size of the organization you help, or the specific work that you do, you will be learning quickly. Everyone you volunteer with will have more knowledge or experience (or both) than you in some regard, which will help you grow and become a more attractive candidate for your next role.
  2. You will build more weak ties quickly — the most important links in your network. This is a core principle of Gladwell’s as well as anyone else who understands networking, because you will gain access to more unique contacts.
  3. You will demonstrate the depth of your character, which goes well beyond any online interaction. Beyond getting a few hours of sunshine and fresh air, getting away from the computer screen will show the people you meet about your values, your work ethic, and your capabilities in a much more genuine way.
  4. You will get a bunch of new ideas about what you do (and do not) want in your next role. Simply talking to the other folks you’re volunteering with about their experiences will provide a lot of food for thought. The extent to which you enjoy your volunteer work will also become a source of feedback. My experience with Beer Bites so far has affirmed that I want business development and marketing to be a part of what I do next: I don’t care what you say, cold calling is just plain fun!

What have you gained from a recent volunteer experience? Or maybe it went horribly wrong? Leave a comment and let me know.

Fired? Ready, Aim… Preparing for your next career transition, no matter how urgent

One day, you will walk into your home without the job you had when you walked out. That day might be very far off in the future, or might have been just a few days ago. Regardless of how much time you have to prepare, here are a few broad steps you can take to be in the best position to transition to the next phase of your career as smoothly as possible.

DSK will need a different type of weak ties in the future
DSK will need a different type of weak ties in the future

This topic should be on a few people’s minds, considering that for the past few months in 2012 more than 4 million people in the US, or >3% of total employment, have lost their jobs each month…and whoever called economics the grim science hasn’t seen the “JOLTS” report that provided these statistics!

  1. How long can you hold out for a great job? Understand your risk tolerance, burn rate, cash position, and “reinforcements” (tapping into credit, retirement savings, family loans, organ sales*, etc.) as you deplete cash.
  2. What is your value proposition? Clarify how you are going to market your capabilities to prospective employers. Remember to start with why, and understand how the next role helps close the gaps towards your medium term ambitions. The written form of the value proposition is your resume, plus your online profile. Keep in mind that usually these will be scanned quickly by someone other than the hiring manager, so take advantage of available resume writing advice to update yours.
  3. How strong is your career pipeline? Just like in sales, you need a network of contacts, a set of prospects to “close” and a steady stream of new leads coming in each week. Remember that weak ties are the most valuable (dork version of same concept) connections in your network. Until you get to the point of submitting an application: don’t ask for jobs, ask for connections (people will offer a job if they know of a fit).
  4. Are you talking to people more than looking at a screen? In the world of tablets, smartphones, and apps, we forget that there are humans out there that want to shake your hand and look you in the eye before they hire you. Look for ways to follow your passions and build weak ties to enhance your job search.

Look for expanded posts on each of these topics in the future. What have I left out? Where am I wrong? Leave a comment, thanks!

* don’t sell your organs. Not even the musical kind.
Image Credit: Richard Drew