Go back to Job Search Prep Syllabus.
In case we haven’t gotten through to you yet, you’re looking for a story, not a job. Getting a job makes you a commodity. Becoming part of a company’s story makes you indispensable, unfireable, and essential. People who are part of a company’s story don’t get laid off. People who have jobs do.
If you were raised like most kids, you grew up on stories. They were your main form of learning for your first few years, and even now they still make learning easier. Remember the story about hiring a babysitter? Exactly.
If we take your job search and change it to a story search (we’re still going to call it a job search, though), we’ll be building the foundation for success.
I’ve already started discussing why understanding a company’s story is important, but let’s look at this topic a little bit more closely.
Our goal here is for you to set yourself up to be the solution to a company’s problem. They have a need, and you are going to fill that need. To understand the company’s problem or need fully, you are going to have to understand their story. For some companies the story may only be mildly important because what they do has been commoditized, but for others the story is everything.
Now is a good time to pause so that you can ask yourself a question. Do you want to work for a company that doesn’t have much of a story? Or do you want to work for a company that is all about its story? (Guess which one is still going to be around after this recession has run its course.)
Remember when Jason asked you, “Assuming that you have 100% personal responsibility for your own success, what do you need to start taking control of today?” His point was that you are ultimately responsible for everything that happens in your career. You can blame getting laid off on the economy, greedy management, or some other circumstance that was out of your hands, but if you take responsibility now to find a company with a great story that you can become a part of, that layoff is far less likely to happen. And if, in the future, it does, you’ll have to ask yourself if there was anything that you could have done at this point, where you are right now, to prevent it.
Looking for stories is different from looking for jobs, because job boards don’t typically tell companies’ stories very well. In fact, companies often don’t tell their stories very well either. Finding and understanding a company’s story isn’t necessarily going to be easy, but it is going to be valuable.
Because it’s going to dictate how you position yourself as the solution. If you are not only a solution to a company’s problem, but also a perfect addition to their story, you are going to be that single person who wins the job offer.
To illustrate how much a company’s story can change the meaning of a job posting, we’re going to look at two job board postings for jobs with very similar skill requirements.
You may have no idea what a Java Engineer does, but I’m pretty sure that you were much more intrigued by the Adchemy’s job posting because it included a piece of the story.
Ok, so stories are great, but you have to ask yourself, “Who is telling them?” In other words, who is controlling the image? That’s easy. The company is.
Have you ever read The Wolf’s Story: What Really Happened to Little Red Riding Hood? It’s a very different take on the childhood classic. Well when you’re checking out a company’s story, there’s a good chance that you’re only hearing their side. That’s why this Foundation on Researching is going be so useful. It’s going to enable you to get all sides of the story and make an informed decision.
Do you think that every single employee at every single company on Fortune Magazine’s list of 100 Top Employer to Work For list loves their employer? No chance. And not all of the people who are unhappy are typical malcontents either.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to rip on the companies on this list. They are excellent examples of the kinds of stories that you’re looking for, but you need to be aware that the reason that these companies are so successful is because they understand the value of a story and they know how to control their image.
Always keep that in mind.
So what are you looking for in a company’s story? Here’s a non-exhaustive list of key components.
You’re going to have to go to a variety of resources to get a fair and balanced picture of any company’s story, which is why the next few lessons will get you familiar with information sources like Corporate Websites, Wikipedia, Google, Social Networks, and a few others.
Remember yesterday’s homework of fitting your elevator pitch into 140 characters or less? Today’s homework is the same, but instead of doing it for yourself, you’re going to do it for 5 companies that you’re interested in. Go find their stories and edit them down to the bare minimum. Post the names of the companies and their 140 character elevator pitches in the comments below.
Here’s my example for One Day, One Job: “One Day, One Job is the insider’s guide to unique and exciting entry level job and career opportunities for recent college graduates.”
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