Allison was nearing the end of her college career as an economics and philosophy major at her university when a friend shot her an email with a job posting he found while browsing LinkedIn.
Three (or six or nine) months ago you showed up for your new job excited about the possibilities in front of you. A new start, new organization, new colleagues, and a new chance to build career capital. What could be better? You went through the honeymoon period of onboarding, initial training, and getting accustomed to the new digs. You met your colleagues, got into a good workflow, and started to feel like you could be good at what you do. And then…
It hits you one day as you roll over to hit the alarm. What the hell am I doing in this role at this organization? All of a sudden you know exactly what people mean when they say that they never use their college major at work. You made all the right moves to leverage your education and experience to land what you felt like was the perfect role, and come to find out, it’s not that perfect.
This was the exact position a member of the Living for Monday community found herself in as she emailed me recently. She had been in her job about three months, made it through the honeymoon period, and realized that her work was not aligned with her vision for her ideal career and lifestyle.
In fact, not only did she want out of the job, she wanted to completely re-position herself to get into another industry altogether. “What can I do to transition out of this job within the next three months?,” she asked. This is a surprisingly common situation amongst young professionals (or perhaps not so surprising, given the approach many employers are taking to talent), so I thought it would be wise to share what I had to say in response.
This is definitely not a fluffy answer, and perhaps not what you want to hear, but it’s what it takes to leverage what little early career rapport you’ve built and completely transform your brand in as short a period of time as possible.
Here’s what I had to say in return, plus a few additions and notes to make it applicable to you situation:
My first question is this: what results have you produced at (current organization) to this point?” I ask this question because you need to stick it out in your current role until you have completed a project, proven the results you can produce, or built a reputation of high performance (either inside or outside of work). Without any of these things, you will largely lack legitimacy and value in the marketplace and will represent the epitome of managers’ fears about job-hopping Millennials. So before you even start searching for a new job, I would do these things:
- Create goals for the next six months in your current job. Frame them in terms of results you can directly prove because this will fuel your ability to find the next opportunity that will excite you.
- Build a personal brand outside of work. Begin reading everything you can on marketing and startups [Or whatever area of interest you want to focus your career on]. Share the articles you are reading on social media. Create a personal website with a nice homepage that highlights who you are and a blog where you can write about what you are reading. Write at least 50 posts between now and whenever you want to transition on the topics of marketing, agencies, and startups [Or whatever area of interest you want to focus your career on.]
- Clean up your past tweets. Unprotect your tweets on Twitter. Don’t tweet anything you wouldn’t want your next employer to see.
- Read Growth Hacker Marketing, Unleashing the Ideavirus, The Thank You Economy, Give and Take, Tribes, Influence, How to Win Friends & Influence People, Ogilvy on Advertising, and Linchpin [If you’re reading this and want a customized reading list for whatever you’re trying to do, email me.]
- Read 500 articles on marketing, advertising, agencies, and Startups. [Or whatever area of interest you want to focus your career on.]
- Read everything there is to read on the websites of the top 10-25 marketing agencies in Atlanta. [Insert your location or desired location here.]
- Read everything there is to read on the websites of every startup in Atlanta Tech Village. [Take this and apply it to the hot spots in your desired location for your desired area of interest.]
- Read this from Ryan Holiday before you write anything. Don’t use it as an excuse for not having something to say.
- Blog about everything you read — write 5 posts per book (this is not a book report, it’s using ideas in books as inspiration to work out ideas of your own on paper). Aggregate articles on similar topics and write about your observations on those topics. Read so that you have something to say and then write what you have to say. If you don’t have anything to say yet, keep reading. This is your brand and value.
- If you’re confused about creating a system for organizing and aggregating articles on a topic, read Evernote Essentials from Brett Kelly (yes, it’s worth the $15) and How to Research from Ryan Holiday.
- Make your personal website be the first result when I search [Your Name] on Google. Make your Linkedin be #2. Twitter #3.
- Once you have done all of the above, start reaching out to people and letting them know what your goals are. Show them the work you have done to prepare for the transition. This will show your hustle, grit, skill-building, and thought leadership.
Right now, you are at the whim of the market when it comes to your search. You’ve been at work right at 6 months and likely have little to show for your employment. I would not tell anyone you are looking for a new job until you’ve done everything I said above. It will take a lot of work and a ton of extra time, but it will be well worth it. If it sounds like too much or not worth the effort, then I would recommend staying put until you are ready to make these kinds of moves.
Sound hard? It is. But when you choose the wrong path (that’s ok), you have to work hard to course correct. If you don’t want to hear the answer, don’t ask the question. Readers at Living for Monday are high performers and linchpins, which is why I share this with you. It’s not for the feint of heart, but it works. If you want to do the work you imagine, you need to have the brand that shows you’re worth the investment. Plus, without that, you’re just playing into the stereotypes of Millennials, and I know we’re all tired of the stereotypes. Don’t be passive, take action: Hop on Twitter, share this article, and let me know what you think. PS: If you haven’t already, read about how to get paid and how to capitalize on opportunity (or not) from Sebastian Marshall. If you’re ready, these two articles can change your life. If not, keep reading them every week until they do (that’s what I’m doing). Photo Credit: Hangin’ out With My Chute Out by Marines on Flickr