Recently, I found myself talking to a friend whom I hadn't seen awhile at a large scale networking event. She had remarked, after telling her of my various experiences, that I was a busy guy, and I realized that I had engaged in a slight shift in perception - seeing my career as less about "getting a traditional job" and more about "how do I apply my skills and find opportunities in a creative way."
All of this is leading me to a review of The Start-up Of You, a book written by Reid Hoffman (who founded Linked In) and Ben Casnoca), which is less a "Job Search Manual" and more a "Career Development Guide". Yes, it does have a focus on entrepreneurship, but its basic thesis is that instead of focusing solely on acquiring a job, people should focus more on their overall careers, taking a very active role in engaging people and nurturing a creative approach to their work life.
Despite using small-business and entrepreneurial-oriented language, The Start-Up of You has some very smart, practical advice not just for the unemployed and underemployed, but for the currently employed. One of the key concepts it discusses is the idea of ABZ Planning , which includes a plan for what you want ("Plan A"), a backup plan which reflects what you want, or if plan A doesn't work ("Plan B"), or a temporary "holding pattern" plan should things go awry (or "Plan Z"). The book also encourages an attitude of network building rather than networking, even stating that it's the quality of a network, rather than the quantity of contacts, that are important in career success.
Granted, the book does have its share of faults - since one of the authors co-founded Linked In, there is a heavy emphasis on that particular service, even to the point of suggesting tips for using it effectively. (And as long-time readers know, I love Linked In). In addition, since there is such a heavy entrepreneurial tone, the book can be a bit off-putting after awhile. (And yes, there are stories about tech businesses that succeeded, including Groupon). Thankfully, what makes the book successful is that it should serve as a rallying cry for those who insist on the spray-and-pray, I'll-just-wait-for-someone-to-discover-me-like-Lana-Turner school of job seeking. Granted, the more entrepreneurial approach means much more work and effort, but since it's an approach I've taken anyway - and which has led to some interesting results on my part - it feels the most instinctive, and the most authentic.
Plus, The Start-Up of You is a relatively easy read - I managed to finish it in two trips back and forth downtown, and since I live near the Midway Orange Line train, that should speak to the book's brevity and readability. It's definitely worth checking out of your local library (which is how I discovered it). It may not be the "ultimate" answer for your job search, but it may help you rethink and readjust your strategy. I know it has mine.
But what do you think? You're more than welcome to comment below, or send me a comment privately via http://www.gordondymowski.com. As always, I encourage you to connect with me via Linked In if I can be of value - just be sure to mention Job Stalker in your connection note. And as always, thanks for reading!