After five years of being a career coach and over two running my own online business, I have a different perspective on careers, personal branding, and the nature of work. I have advised hundreds of people, maybe over a thousand, through job hunts, graduations, and career changes from homeless teens to VPs. There is one piece of advice that I have given that is universal.
Think like a freelancer.
If you act like you are a mercenary in the job market, then you have an edge on your competition. Most people are asleep at the wheel when it comes to their jobs.
I see it in the web developers who stop updating their githubs, the manager who stops networking, the professional who stops going to conferences, the designer who lets their portfolio domain expire, etc. They get a job and think the battle is over.
Oh, you sweet summer child.
As a Kardashian would say, I can’t EVEN.
Maybe it’s because I grew up working class with five siblings and had a job and a side hustle by sixteen.
Maybe it’s because I graduated in a town that never recovered after the Great Recession.
Maybe it’s because I have had a few jobs lost from budget cuts and company failures.
But I believe that your resume should always be updated, your portfolio fresh, and your network alive.
This is how you maintain a recession-proof career. I have had people complain about this philosophy and say that I am drinking the kool-aid with the hustle culture. Cue a giant eye roll.
It’s not that hard to take an hour every few weeks to do an industry happy hour or five minutes to add a bullet point to your resume when you get a promotion. Its easier than a giant to-do list when you need to job hunt again.
You should be primed for opportunities. This is why some people seem lucky. It’s not luck, they were just ready when someone opened a door for them. Not every door opens again.
And yes, sometimes you will need to HUSTLE when the door opens!
Right now, I am knee-deep in a few projects because I am taking most of September off. Unexpectedly I received a scholarship to do a writing retreat with a best selling self-publishing author (who also has a Ph.D. in Literature). I have a few manuscripts under my belt. They need polishing. It’s a big task and yeah, it has cut into the socializing that I could be doing this summer. However, how many times would I get a chance to write in a French castle with my writing mentor and nearly a dozen published authors?
This is a golden opportunity so I came to the mountains of Bulgaria and settled into a writing-editing groove. Sure, I have gone to the hot springs, had a friend visit, etc, but I also have said no to outings and yes to working harder on some business projects to give me the space to take September off. I am making my self-imposed deadlines.
This opportunity also came to me because I was networking online, took a book marketing course for professional development, and I was fresh in the retreat host’s mind. There were four people who couldn’t accept the scholarship before the hosts thought of me. If I had decided that I was employed, had enough clients, and didn’t need any more of that book learnin’ then this wouldn’t have happened.
Why would it have? You have to put your hand out if you are going to catch something.
It was a golden opportunity but it wasn’t perfect.
September is a busy month for career coaches, I had only a month left on my Schengen Visa, and I was looking at rearranging lots of things. However, I know that writers who do this retreat end up with finished manuscripts, in Forbes, and with their book marketing plans plotted out. It’s a blend of learning the craft and learning the business which very few programs actually teach you. Golden opportunities will find their way to you in inconvenient times and in guises that you might not expect.
Be flexible. Opportunity knocks, but maybe it sounds like a Mariachi band.
Waiting doesn’t help anyone. I have seen friends in the business space sit on courses/services/ideas and find that the moment had passed. The market has moved on. I have seen that happen with job seekers all the time. They see their dream job and procrastinate until it closes. The door closed.
You don’t need to have regrets about missing opportunities when you are ready for them.