March 19th, 2019
We have all heard that saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
If you are in the market for a new job, whether you just needed a change or you’ve gone as far as you can at your current company or you are completely reinventing yourself – you must be in action, leveraging and building your network.
These days, simply applying for jobs online no longer cuts it. In order to land your dream job and make the money you are committed to making, you have to get creative and that includes putting yourself out there with real people.
In early 2018, I came to terms with wanting to start a family. However we live in the Bay Area, one of the most expensive cities in the world, I was working 70+ hours a week (not a lot of time for babies), and was not making as much as I knew I needed to make in order to create a foundation to even start that adventure.
And I loved that job and everyone I worked with. It was one of the most fulfilling experiences I have ever had professionally. But this was the right move inside what I was committed to.
So there I was, applying online day after day. I started applying for positions 6 months before I actually left my company. I got a handful of interviews, but there wasn’t any momentum building as I had expected.
Then I went to work on optimizing my resume for ATS checks and LinkedIn recruiter searches. The needle started to move and I got excited. It was kind of like being at a casino when you finally start to win at the tables. You are nervous but this sense of relief started to come over me. “Come on baby! Mama needs a new pair of shoes!”
The next hurdle, however, was interviewing. It wasn’t just effectively preparing for the interview, it was also being able to convey to this complete stranger how much of a catch I was without putting them off for being too arrogant or self-involved. This person didn’t know me and there wasn’t anyone I knew already at the companies I was applying to who could vouch for me either.
It became really frustrating. My confidence started to take a hit and resignation soon followed.
Fortunately, I have some really great friends who are experts in this career business. Each one of them told me that I needed to swallow my pride and reach out to the people I knew, as well as those whom I was an acquaintance with. “Leverage your network” they would say. “Ask for an introduction” they would say. The little voice in my head was arguing that I shouldn’t have to, I don’t want to look desperate. I absolutely didn’t want anyone to think I was taking advantage of our relationship.
What I didn’t know at the time is that 80% of the jobs that are in fact available are not posted anywhere to the general public. That means that there is that many more people applying to the same job as I am. Unless I have magical powers and a glittery rainbow hovering over my head, this was going to be an uphill battle. The last thing I wanted to do was settle for the few jobs that were on the metaphorical menu.
Here is the deal – I have friends at Facebook, SalesForce, Google, Sephora Corporate, Dropbox, DocuSign, Eventbrite, SFMOMA, Visa, Bain & Company…and the list goes on, and I had to confront, did I want to be right about something or did I want to get the results. So I put on my big girl pants and started to reach out to my community of peers.
Suddenly not only was I getting more interviews, but I was also moving along farther in the interview process. One company was so impressed with the recommendation they received, that even though they already started filling the job I originally applied for – they came back to me and asked me to apply for another position they thought I would be a perfect fit for.
This was literally like an, “Oh my god! I’ve been acting like an idiot” kind of moment. Why did I not start doing this sooner?!?! I could have saved myself so much time and agony!
Then I lucked out.
One night I was at my friend’s apartment in San Francisco. This friend runs a sustainable fashion startup (that is about to premiere on SharkTank) and consulting business. Both of us had just gotten back from the gym and were binging on some Chinese food.
She started talking to me about what she was dealing with around expanding one of her companies. I listened and asked questions. Then I asked her to show me what she was working on so I could offer my insights, which I did. During that evening, I had no intention of getting hired by her and was literally just focused on what I could contribute that would empower her.
The next day I get a phone call asking if I’d be interested in discussing a full-time position with the COO and CEO of her consulting firm.
Ummm…duh! Yes, yes and more yes!
I remember sitting in the parking lot of a Target on this call with the COO, whom I also know, and the CEO. I was asked about what I was looking for and how I saw myself growing with the company, standard interview questions.
What shocked me was what the COO said next, “If this was the Kentucky Derby and I had $1M to put down but could only choose one horse. Jessica is the horse I would pick – hands down.”
I had no idea that he related to me that way. I mean, I know I’m a performer and can produce results. But I had no idea that I showed up that way for people, especially him. After that statement, the CEO was an automatic yes and it has been the perfect marriage of everything I could have ever wanted in a job.
My biggest concern when I left my position back in 2018 is that I wouldn’t find the kind of partnership I had with my colleagues anywhere else. Will they respect what I have to say? What kind of politics will I have to fight? Is anyone going to discredit what I have to offer because I didn’t go to an Ivy League school? Will they trust me to really take the ball and run?
Listen, it can be a little scary to put yourself out there. You don’t know exactly what is going to happen and it is to some extent out of your control. But you have to ask yourself this question, “how badly do I want this?”
If you are committedly and intentionally out to have your fairy tale ending on the job front, you must, must, must make bold requests of the people you know and sometimes those you don’t. Trust me, it is the missing ingredient and will make all the difference.
Find out more from a career strategist at The Job Sauce by scheduling a free consultation call today.