The bottom line of our job can always be summed up simply by two words: create value.
This is our charge when we accept a job offer. This is our charge every single minute we are working. It’s what our work comes down to once we break through the complexity of job titles, job descriptions, salary and more.
If you’re in a job transition, as I am, this has to remain the focus. When you speak to prospective employers or co-workers, your job is to sell them on your ability to create value. You are trying to do so in different words, of course, but that is what it comes down to. And at a time like this, it’s easy to lose sight of that, which is why keeping an active schedule is so important.
When you lose your job, a lot goes on in your mind. You think about how you will pay the bills in the interim, how your life will change in terms of hours in the day, what you might do that you normally cannot, and more. When you think about finding your next job, the natural tendency is to focus on your skills and experience. It makes sense, because this is the path to your next job – you get opportunities from those. Once you get such an opportunity, the endgame has to be in mind: you want to create value for this employer.
There is a lot of value in attending job search workshops, training and similar events related to your field, professional organization meetings and events focused on networking. They give you a chance to meet people who may lead you to your next job, might help you learn a new skill to be more marketable, help you keep up with your industry and much more. It is a great use of your time, and better than the alternative. But the value doesn’t end there. By meeting people and talking about what you do, you give yourself opportunities to hone your message about – what else? – how you create value. You can refine your message and become more at home talking about it.
Besides this, you have chances to create value right away – for others. Networking should still be first approached with the idea of helping other people out; as noted before, it helps manage your expectations. But it also keeps you thinking about creating value, which is ultimately what you aim to do on the job. You might create it differently in a job than while networking, but the basic idea is still the same.
Ultimately, then, having an active job search helps you remain focused on what you will do once gainfully employed again: creating value. This is one more reason that as a job seeker, you owe it to yourself to limit how much time you are on the computer applying for jobs online. We’re always told that is a far less effective way to find our next job, but that is hardly the only reason.
Often when being interviewed at a time like this, you may be asked what you have done during your transition. You certainly want to have an answer ready, and it should demonstrate that you have not been sulking or barking up the wrong proverbial tree. I have one ready in a list form that can be translated into a sentence or two (noteworthy: numerous networking meetings, launched a personal web site, attended Boston TechJam and other technical meetings/events, and ran a 5K road race), but perhaps one more thing can be added as a way of summing up some of those activities: creating value.
And that translates over directly into when one is on the job. The bottom line is still the same.