For the past 10 years I’ve worked with numerous people and groups across the country with one single purpose… to console, encourage and teach them the hard lessons I’ve learned about careers, making transitions and finding success by treating their career, their world of work like a business, like A Company of 1. I’ve talked with, cried with and cheered with people from all walks of life, from technicians to CTO’s, HR Managers, retail clerks, engineers, sales professionals…. and I’ve found one thing to be true, they are all people, people who at one time felt confident, felt valued…..and now are overwhelmed….
Whether you are in a career transition by choice, or been handed the change by someone else… a career transition can be painful and overwhelming. All of a sudden you feel beaten, outcast, like you are adrift at sea with no paddle. And as you start to make your way back you are being told that you have to be “open to new opportunities”, try new things, have to have a new mission, have to gather all the things you’ve ever accomplished into neat little SAM, STAR, PAR etc statements, have to restructure your resume to fit the whim of every job you apply for, get out on the social networks, have profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook, you have to learn your elevator pitches, have to go to “networking events” and sell yourself….. Move and move fast…. Well that’s a sure way to experiencing alot of activity, but not a lot of progress….
Folks, take a step back and breathe…. yes, it can be overwhelming and this isn’t a “tap your heels together moment” where the skies will open up and you’ll be whisked away to OZ. Yes, the mountain you are climbing can seem so high, so don’t think about the top of the mountain, think about what comes first, and then next, because getting to the top of the mountain really is about taking just the next step.
Here is the simple and perhaps hard truth, companies hire people that have the experiences necessary to help that company provide value to it’s customers. That’s it…. that’s what it’s all about.
And although you may feel rejected by your former employer because they no longer needed the skills and experiences you have…. there are other “customers” who will value the things that you have done, the things that you can do. Maybe your skills don’t carry the same “market value” (salary) that they used to or maybe the markets changed and your “product/service” is in less demand with a smaller market. So it’s a reality check, it may be more difficult to find, but there is a market! So find it…
Sometimes there is a difference between the “short term” (what you have done and can do) and “long term” (what you want to do), but if you are looking for a new “customer” for your Company of 1, you have to think about the long term and ACT in the short term, what you can do for companies who need what you do.
Okay, so maybe it still seems overwhelming and feels like everyone is telling you to re-engineer your life. If it seems too much too handle to think about the big picture, then focus on the little things, the “one at a time” things that will move you forward, focused on where you want to go. Don’t flit around trying to change what is real to match what may or may not be real in some random job posting that you found online, or spend your valuable time putting your resume on every job board, (like a billboard, hoping just the right person at just the right time will pass by). FOCUS your efforts, one step at a time….
5 steps to finding the next Customer for your A Company of 1:
1) What do you do? Could be titles, could be activities, responsibilities. What are the things you’ve done in your past jobs that are repeatable, verifiable…. What “services” does your company provide?
2) Who needs that value? Go to www.indeed.com and enter the key words for what you do and put a 5 mile circle around your zipcode. Keep expanding the circle until you have at least 30-40 companies that use your type of service.
3) Look at those companies and identify the 10 ten companies you think you want to work for.
4) Start researching…. the company, the people (www.linkedin.com), the industry. Who do you know in those areas? Who do you know that knows someone.? Are they a market leader? Innovator? Process and efficiency driven? Is the industry stable? Growing?
5) Start Asking Questions and Identify where you can add value. Ask about the company, the environment, the opportunities. When you find an opportunity, ask more questions…. what’s the culture like? Who is considered to be the best candidate? What would an outstanding employee have done in the first year? How does the position help the company serve it’s customers? Is it a short term position, long term position, is the company growing? Then frame what you do, what you have done to demonstrate how you can do the things that the company is looking for….. and if it’s not a fit, if your services or experiences don’t match… say so, and move on. Be willing to say no, but also be willing to say Yes!
MIX and REPEAT
At first it may seem difficult, uncomfortable. Don’t worry…. Be yourself, be authentic…. and just keep doing it, change your approach, listen, ask more questions, learn and soon it will become a part of you, they will be your words, not just some canned and empty elevator pitch, but your real self coming through.
If you will do those things, and keep doing those things, I promise you, the miles will get easier, the mountain won’t seem so high…… and even after you have landed at your next great “customer”, keep doing those things, get involved in your industry, volunteer to help others, network online, connect people, learn a new skill, and keep looking for ways to do what you do better, to offer more value to your customer…. and as you continue to build your Company of 1, you will find, and be open to new opportunities, you will have new experiences that will keep you growing and you will develop new value to share….and you will find yourself in a place where you love what you do, where what you do is valued, you will turn around and find that you have climbed that mountain, made it to the top, and you will have…...