The Fortune Cookie

So as I was looking at my Facebook site, which has nothing to do with my job search, I came across one of those apps for fortune cookies.  Mind you, I don’t usually even bother with the apps or games on Facebook because I think they are just another way to waste time that I don’t need.  I just use it to keep in touch with friends and family.  Anyway, I saw the fortune cookie app and became intrigued; maybe just a little bit… okay a lot.  I allowed that silliness into my private haven of friends and family and haven’t looked back since.  The unknown has always intrigued me and I do get my horoscope daily in emails, though very rarely are they even close to what really happens in my day, but this fortune cookie had some wisdom attached that I just couldn’t let go of.  It simply said,

“The sure way to predict your future is to invent it.” 

Aside from my continuous search to find the “perfect” job for me, I had never thought about invention of a future as part of the protocol for finding a job.  During a job search I usually have a set of criteria that I follow and it is standardized to my skills, abilities, education, and what the employer is seeking, but not really outside that realm.  I have been creative at times in how I locate employers looking to hire-but inventing my future?

Well break out the drafting board and let me create a schematic designed to invent a new thingamajig for finding my next job!  All sarcasm aside, developing new process and procedures for doing things is one of my strongest skills, which I think I inherited from my mom’s side of the family…she has an uncle that invented a thingamajig for the Gyroscope and it’s still used by the Navy, US Space Exploration (Hubble Telescope), and other stuff; but I’m no physicist or scientist by any means.

So how do I apply this invention strategy to finding employment?

I believe the message or wisdom in this fortune cookie is to shake up the job search, rattle the cage, and be open to other possibilities.  The thing I have noticed in helping others to find employment is often times they get stuck on one field or job description type because that’s the only thing they think they know.  I guess what I’m saying is somewhat cliché but try thinking outside the box because what you think you know and what you really know can be the difference in finding work.

This doesn’t mean anyone should embellish or lie about their skills or abilities, but more to analyze the knowledge you have within those parameters.  For example; Customer service is a pretty standard thing and most people have done it, but what does it really mean?  What are the different facets of customer service and how does it apply to your knowledge?  Does it mean you answered calls and transferred messages to voicemails, or does it mean you assisted customers choose some specific product for their needs?  Even with the skills you possess, chances are you aren’t digging deep enough in defining what your skill set has in common with working a job you have never done before.  Therefore, you aren’t likely to apply for a job outside your scope of “perceived” knowledge.

So here’s my schematic for inventing your future…in this case, finding work that you may not think you are qualified for:

Analyze your skills: Think about what you did with each skill individually and don’t just regurgitate the information from your resume.   Truly evaluate or pick apart the things you did that gave you that skill, even the littlest characteristic of it and what you used it for.

Put it in writing: Write down details of each individual skill-Where, when, how, why, and what you used it for.  It sounds redundant but it does serve its purpose… When you do this, there is a very strong probability that you will uncover additional skills you didn’t know you had.

Mind map: Mind mapping is visualizing all the possibilities you can use your skills to achieve.  Picture yourself working the kind of job you want to do and how the skills you just wrote down fit into that picture.  If you don’t visualize well, try drawing a chart or using PowerPoint to help you see the “big picture.” Use the position you want as the center piece of the chart and arrange your skills around it; Think solar system-with earth in the center and the planets circling.

Labeling: On a separate sheet of paper or PowerPoint, use a hierarchy chart for each skill; Think family tree.  Put all the members of the skill set (or parents) at the top and use the branches to describe the attributes (or children) of each one.  The descriptions should include all of the things you already put in writing because the purpose of this exercise is to define the relationship of each skill to the job of interest.

Job Search: As I stated earlier, people get stuck on only looking for one type of job but now is your chance to look for something you thought you couldn’t do because you didn’t have the skills…but just look at all of those branches on your tree, you may have only been a call center representative before but look at that… Your skills also qualify you to be a production manager! (or whatever the case may be).

Craft the Cover Letter: I’m more on the side of not changing your resume for every job you apply for because it’s time consuming and redundant, plus your best skills should already be in your resume.  However, given these new skills you just found, you will surely want to include them in your cover letter to let the employer know you have done X, Y, and Z, even though it’s not spelled out in your resume.

Go ahead! Invent your future; you have nothing to lose and everything to gain, including a whole new set of jobs you can apply for.


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