It's bigger on the inside …

This week co-Job Stalker Gordon Dymowski takes us to one of his favorite places, the world of Doctor Who. I must admit to having been a relatively enthusiastic fan of the show (as witnessed by my rack of dozens of VHS tapes, containing episodes recorded from the air back in the early 80’s) for quite a while, but I’m nowhere near Gordon’s level of involvement. If you’re not familiar with Doctor Who, it’s the longest-running science-fiction TV program of all time, with nearly 800 episodes at this point, 11 actors playing The Doctor (regeneration – it’s a mighty handy plot element!), that ran from 1963-1989, had a brief “TV movie” return in 1996, and then came back in a much-better funded version that’s been running since 2005. One of the aggravations of being in my 27th month “between jobs” is that we long ago quit paying for TV, so I’ve not been able to keep up with Doctor Who on the BBC channel!

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This week’s “guest post” is actually kind of a last-minute, spontaneous effort, although you wouldn’t know it by reading it.

I had been feeling a little creatively dry – job seeking & interviewing tend to focus my mind away from more creative pursuits. So in an effort to think of a clever, witty topic to write about, I came up blank. (Gearing up for some potential freelance work – no matter how promising – and planning an upcoming non-profit/small business social media training also had a slight drain on my creativity). However,  I decided to hunker down … and just surf the internet for anything to distract me.

Then, I came across an article entitled Everything I Know About Job Hunting I Learned From Star Wars. Granted, I was tempted to cut and paste the article and submit for this week’s blog post…but that would be plagiarism, which I learned in high school is an academic crime. However, given that I am a life long fan of the British science-fiction television series Doctor Who, I’m only going to semi-plagiarize that article. So this week, my column is entitled Everything I Know About Job Hunting I Learned From Doctor Who.

(New episodes of the series will begin on August 27th on BBC America; Chicago Nerds is putting on Doctor Who 101 on September 13th, led by me. Thank you for the brief commercial pause).

You’re Consistently The Same Person No Matter How Many Times You Regenerate – One of the key concepts in the show is that the Doctor, an alien who travels through time, is able to regenerate his physical form, moving from crotchety old man to cosmic hobo, from war-scarred veteran to Davy Jones on a triple espresso. However, he still maintains the same basic personality: a person who wants to do right, who fights against tyranny and cruelty, and who has a great love of adventure and a curiosity about how things work.

As a job seeker, I try to remember that no matter what fields I may be exploring for professional opportunities (whether they’re in non-profits, social media marketing, or other related interests), I still retain a basic set of skills. Part of my search involves preparing myself to help a potential employer understand how I “fit” a given position. It’s not easy, but I try to remember that despite any frustrations, I have skills and knowledge, and those can be put to good use.

Daleks Make Poor Conversationalists – One of the Doctor’s key adversaries is a race of mobile killing machines known as Daleks. Their sole battle cry is “exterminate!” and they are devious, cunning, manipulative, and have only one goal – destroying other races and becoming the dominant life form of the galaxy.

Obviously, they’re never invited to cocktail parties or networking events.

It’s easy for me in the job search to focus on either bemoaning my lack of “success” in job seeking (and in all honesty, I’ve been fruitful when it comes to interviews), or to see other job seekers as “the competition”. (For example, a former job-seeking colleague who calls herself a “maven” and “connector” turned down networking opportunities with some fresh-out-of-college job seekers because she was “tired of having (her) brain picked”). Being open to potential leads – in fact, being open to building relationships – is a key factor that often leads to stronger working relationships. (Last week, I met with a friend over drinks, and we began our relationship as professional colleagues. Thankfully, she pointed me in the direction of some other potential contacts. It really pays not to see people as means to an end).

Trying To Find a Job Can Be Rather “Wibbley Wobbley Timey Wimey” – In the new series episode “Blink”, the Doctor explains that time isn’t necessarily cause-and-effect, but tends to fold over and be…well, wibbley wobbley timey wimey. Without spoiling the episode, “Blink” tells a story that folds upon itself, and that has a great internal logic which may not necessarily follow a strict line of progression.

As a job seeker, I can see my job strengths and progression in retrospect – looking at my LinkedIn Profile, there does not seem to be a straightforward moving-up-the-ranks, but what I do see is a reaffirmation of key interests and skills. My hobbies and interests have also, on some level, factored into my work – for example, my online activities led to work in social media marketing. So when I’m looking for work, being willing to “go with the flow” – to explore different interests and options – can often be useful.

Always Keep Interesting Things In Your Pockets– Another consistency of the Doctor is that he always has a variety of interesting things in his pockets, from a sonic screwdriver (which is kind of an alien Swiss Army knife) to a cricket ball. He never knows when any of these can – and will – be useful.

In my job seeking, I’m always willing to adopt various tools, to try various things, and to learn various skills and information, because my goal is to find a position that fits my skill set. By being adaptable, I am developing one of those key skill sets.

And finally….

Sometimes, You Have to Do What You Need to In Order To Do What You Want To – In the 1970s adventure “Spearhead from Space”, the Doctor – now exiled to Earth – is offered the chance to serve as scientific advisor for UNIT, a paramilitary organization that fights aliens. Of course, when offered a salary, the Doctor turns it down, stating that he doesn’t “need the stuff” – what he does need is a lab and equipment to repair his time/space travel machine (called a TARDIS).

Job seeking is never easy, and dealing with the unease of having little (if any) results can be rather disheartening. Sometimes, job searches also involve temporary/freelance work, considering further training, and other things that may not seem practical. However, trying to find an ideal professional “fit” sometimes means doing something that may not be preferable in order to gain something much more desirable.

But enough of my mixed metaphors – did you enjoy this diversion from regular Job Stalker content? Please let me know either via e-mail or connect with me via any one of my social networks. In addition, you are more than welcome to add me as a connection via Linked In.

As always, thanks for reading!

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