Looking for work? Get fired!

March 17, 2010 § 4 Comments

These days I’m often asked to speak to career groups. There are a lot of folks in transition these days and many have never experienced a job climate quite like the one they find themselves in today. It’s a tough spot. One piece of advice that I often hear given to job seekers is to treat the job search like a job: set goals, have a plan, give yourself a quota of activity to accomplish daily, and don’t fall into a rut of inactivity. All good sound advice, but there is one vital piece missing: this is not a job you want, in fact this is a job from which you want to be fired!

Getting fired?! It’s appalling, embarrassing, humiliating… unless it is getting fired from the job of being an “A” Number One Unemployed Job Seeker. There’s nothing humiliating about losing that job title. So what do you do when you’re TRYING to get fired? Well naturally, you break some rules. But you don’t just break them quiet-like – you make some noise, you call attention to yourself. If you want to get fired you have to get noticed. Get noticed breaking the rules.

There is a dangerous rhythm that the job seeker can fall into: a cycle of online searching, sending resumes, filling out application forms, and visiting career groups. It can feel like a job, it can feel like progress, but if you’re not getting results it’s not progress. Break the rules, change the pattern. Get noisy. Start a blog, become a twitter networker, pick an issue in your industry that you care about and take a stand, do it vocally, don’t be benign. Instead of standing in line at the career fair, break the rules – organize your own event. Instead of waiting to get the sales job, break the rules – bring your target company a customer – you’ll get some attention, bring them 3 and you’ll get hired.

These days being good at what you do, being qualified and experienced are only enough to get you the opportunity to stand in line. It’s not differentiation, it’s another resume in the pile. Get out of line, break the rules, find another door, or a whole new line. These are risky times to play it safe. Get passionate, get creative, and by all means when it comes to the job of job seeking, get fired.


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§ 4 Responses to Looking for work? Get fired!

  • sherryheyl says:

    I like this post! I beg people to not put the words “in transition” or “job seeker” or the like on their name tags. Nor to introduce themselves in such a manner. Your career is not job seeker. You have specialties, expertise – highlight those!

    • davidscohen says:

      Thanks Sherry! I was just speaking to a career group today – there are a lot of talented people in transition out there, but you’re right “in transition” is only specific about one thing: needing a job. What if instead they got more focused and a little more audacious? Jane Doe – available to trim your operational costs, or Bob Smith – ready to work on growing your sales by 20%, or Mary Jones – prepared to start on Monday to re-engineer your support desk…

  • Andy says:

    What are your thoughts on job hoppers vs career lifers in the current climate? I’ve seen pro and con about aggressive job switching in blog posts over the last 2 weeks. Speaking with recruiters I trust it sounds like a 4-6 year run in a position is what is desired. I have run into several non-trusted recruiters who just look for 2 years.

    • davidscohen says:

      My first caveat: I’m not a recruiter. That being said, I think I will take a blogger’s prerogative and deviate slightly from your question. If we are talking from the job seeker’s point of view there is not a lot you can do to change your past. If you’ve been job hopping then you’ve been job hopping, if you’ve been staying the course in one company forever, then that’s your history. There really isn’t much to be done either way. Sure you could opt for a “summary” style resume, but as soon as someone asks for a work history the truth will out. I say instead of worrying about changing your history focus on communicating where your story is going. Use the past to paint the trajectory of where your career is headed. If you effectively get across “what’s in it for them” and can make that story credible via your experience, passion and momentum, then whether you’re a hopper or have been staying the course will be far less important. However, don’t depend on the gatekeepers to see the vision, just like in any sales situation, you’ve got to find the people who are empowered to say yes. What’s the old saying? “Don’t take a no from someone who can’t say yes.”

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