How to put your best foot forward in the job search (or early professional career):
- Establish and maintain both a LinkedIn and Google profile. Make sure they’re up-to-date, and you’re using all the tools they offer.
- Be well informed on local and national issues. Include major news outlets in your Twitter/Facebook stream, read WSJ/NYT/Oklahoman (or the local daily), read the lifestyle pubs to know who the movers/shakers are around town, The Lost Ogle is a great resource to bring context to local issues. Being informed is the easiest way to start a conversation with someone you don’t know or with whom you don’t share common interests.
- Network. Network. Network. Attend as many coffees, lunches (hardest to get with busy people) and cocktail hours as you can. Be smart. Know who your targets are and learn all about them. Then, approach them thoughtfully. Do not stalk. It’s creepy. Networking with people that you don’t need anything from is the most authentic and best for future results.
- Identify a mentor who “made it.” Don’t ask them to be your mentor, but develop a relationship and ask them if you can “pick their brain from time-to-time” after you have established that relationship. If you can get close to someone, share all your fears and insecurities, and ask if they ever felt that way.
- Do it for free. If you are passionate about something, figure out where you want a job, and do it for free if no job exists. Give yourself a set period of time (that you can afford), and use it as a springboard to your next job or opportunity.
- Show value from day one. If you are new, young and know nothing (or all three) try to be like a “T.” Be versed to communicate intelligently across the board in many subjects, but develop deep expertise in a few. Also, take assignments that no one else wants. There is something fun about saying “yes” to a project that you have no clue how to complete.
- Understand you are owed NOTHING. Second place is for losers. Trophies are for winners. Be a winner and work hard, have patience (my crutch…and every other entrepreneur) and remember that you have a LOT to learn, so spend some time learning your craft before you tell everyone how the world works. When you have learned all you can from an organization, move up or move on – including starting your own business.
- BONUS: Don’t be afraid to fail.